By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
part 1 of 2
Lisa didn't stir when her husband slipped out of bed and walked to the bathroom. It was six in the morning, and he had to get to the ballpark. The desert dawn had already crept past the hotel curtains; outside, the Tucson air smelled of sun-warmed dirt, fresh-mown grass and springtime. Baseball weather.
The kids were back home in Loveland with Lisa's in-laws, and she had nothing to do but relax until Brad returned from practice. So she lay dreaming, oblivious to the sounds of the shower.
She thought about all those lonely nights waiting for her boy of summer to return from the arms of his other lover, the game of baseball. About all the hurried partings, packings and cross-country drives while Brad chased his own dreams. She saw him walking to the mound in a Rockies uniform, pausing to tip his hat to her. She dreamed of a house with a white picket fence surrounding a large yard where her children played in the Colorado sunshine--baseball's payment for all the groupies, the overdue bills, the lack of permanency.
For once, she had good reason to believe such things were possible in the waking world. For once, everything was going well. Brad had pitched himself into the Rockies' starting rotation in that Wednesday's spring-training game against the San Diego Padres. Four hits. Three strikeouts. One walk. And no runs in five innings.
The next morning, Rockies manager Don Baylor had finally said something nice about Brad to the newspapers. And then some reporters had told Brad that, according to the way they were figuring his spot in the lineup, he'd likely start the first regular-season game ever played at brand-spanking-new Coors Field.
Imagine that: her Brad going down in the history books for something that could never be taken from him, even in a sport that dotes on ever-changing statistics. Brad Moore, graduate of Loveland High School, living the fantasy of every little boy who ever laced his cleats, grabbed a glove and ran out of the house without kissing his mother when the gang called.
Of course, the strike had something to do with her thirty-year-old minor-leaguer, now only a former major-league prospect, getting another shot at the bigs. A chance to show his stuff. To prove he belonged in the magic land.
Personally, Brad hoped it would end and the regulars would come back to start the season; he'd give up his historic footnote for the opportunity to make the Rockies' Triple A team in Colorado Springs. And from there, with a little luck and perseverance, who knew? But Lisa thought Brad deserved this chance. Brad and a lot of guys like him who were trying to make the replacement teams, guys who'd been lost in the minor-league shuffle. Many had major-league talent--and major-league bad luck.
Bad luck. Sometimes Lisa thought she had a monopoly on it. The last three times she'd visited Brad where he was playing, one thing or another had gone wrong, and he'd wound up going home early with her. They'd even joked about it before she joined him in Tucson. But what could happen now? Brad pitched a great game the day before she arrived and earned a spot on the roster. He didn't have to pitch again until after Lisa left, so there was no way she could jinx things.
Then came a crash in the bathroom. Jumping up from bed and her dreams, Lisa ran to open the door. Brad lay on the floor, his face screwed in pain. He was holding up his right hand. His pitching hand.
Unlike lightning, bad luck had a way of striking the Moore family again and again.
If she were a superstitious sort, Lisa could say that it first struck the day she was born. Her family was as poor as an empty pocket, subsisting on welfare and food stamps. Her father rarely worked, and he disappeared into a bottle every Friday.
She grew up in Clearwater, Florida, a beach community north of St. Petersburg. The family had moved there from New Jersey when she was two. That was in 1969, and she, her parents and seven brothers and sisters spent the next few years sharing a tiny two-bedroom house with cockroaches.
It got a little better when the church gave her father a steady job and they moved into a four-bedroom home. But working around religious people didn't put an end to her father's weekly binges or the screaming fights with his wife. Friday nights, when he'd lurch home drunk and belligerent, Lisa's mom would pack up the kids in the ancient station wagon and they'd spend the night in some parking lot.
The kids had been born one after another over just eight years. There was never much in the way of affection from either parent--no hugs and kisses goodnight, no "I love you" as Lisa ran out the door for school. She'd see other families laughing and holding each other and dream of someday having that for herself. Someday she'd live in a big house, with a white picket fence. Her husband would never yell or come home drunk, and he'd always treat her like she was the most important person in the world. In other words, he'd be the exact opposite of her father.