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In Catcher's Box or Batter's Box?

Gay Baseball Romance

Author: Brittney Valentine


© Copyright 2016 by Brittney Valentine

All rights reserved.

In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person,

living or dead, is purely coincidental.


From the Author:

2 Special Bonus Stories INSIDE!

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Table of Contents


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In Catcher's Box or Batter's Box?

Description

George Danson is a lonely barman who takes on a second job as a batboy to make ends meet. He sees his old friend and first love, Eric Stratford, who has hit the big-time as Major League Baseball player. Eric is a perfectionist, uptight, and in the closet.

George tries to talk to Eric, only to be met by a wall of celebrity ego. The other players bully obviously gay George and Eric ignores him completely.

Has George’s first love really forgotten him completely?


Chapter 1

George Danson parked his beat-up Chevy outside Wrigley field on the North side of Chicago. The lock didn’t work that well, but he figured no one was going to steal anything from the heap of metal he’d been driving for five years.

He looked up at the ivy-covered brick outfield wall. This was it. He walked under the red marquee over the main entrance. This was the oldest National League ballpark and the last Federal League Park, but he only knew that because he was a Chicago native. It was too big, nothing like the comfort of his bar across town on the east side. But the difference was that this place made money, and that’s why he was here. It was either this or go back to his landlord, and he wasn’t about to go make that guy’s day just for some lousy rent.

Chicago was unusually warm for the fall and George was in his usual threadbare jeans and a flannel shirt. He stepped out to the end of the bleachers and looked out at the pitch. There were a few guys playing catch. The sun glinted on their white uniforms and George shielded his eyes. He felt his bad mood lift a little as he watched the ball fly from glove to glove. Truth is, the only thing he knew about baseball was that athletes looked great in white pants.

“Hey, new guy,” a voice said. George looked to see a squat man walking towards him, hunched shoulders and the distinct smell of cigars. The man stopped in front of him, boots kicking at the chalk ground. The man took the cigar out of his mouth. Didn’t matter that this guy was a head shorter than George—that he had to look up to meet his eyes—this man had presence.

“Christ, did Jimmy send you?” he asked.

“Yeah, I guess,” George said. What did you say back to that? Jimmy Turner was a regular at his bar—Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Truth is, George liked him. The guy drank him out of brandy, smoked, and cursed, but he had a good heart. Turns out he was a veteran, he’d been discharged with a bullet to his left shoulder, and had gone on to coach an unprivileged kid’s baseball team in Detroit.

Jimmy was always there when some kid had gotten himself into trouble—he was always befriending some young man who’d lost his job, got on the wrong side of the law, or just had that lost look that young men get. That’s when Jimmy, in maroon slacks, dark blue club jacket and impeccably neat beard, would sit next to them, like some year-round Santa and get the kid to spill their guts out to him. It was his beady clear blue eyes, like they could see right into you. Jimmy just knew.

So maybe it was that he couldn’t afford to restock the brandy that Jimmy liked, that he’d sighed too much one Tuesday night, or just that after a few glasses he reminded the old man of one of his ball playing kids back in Detroit. He’d guessed at George’s money troubles, he could smell it like a watered down brandy.

“‘Breaks a man’s spirit. Listen, I know a guy looking for some help. Good money,” Jimmy said.

“I’m not gonna start turning tricks Jimmy,” he’d told him, wiping down the bar while he watched him navigate himself off his favorite bar stool.

“It’s honest work. You like baseball?” The old man asked.

George shrugged. “I sure like watching the pitcher for the White Sox.”

A misty look came over the old man’s eyes. “You know, they call it America’s past-time,” he said, looking like he’d given up trying to get down from his stool. Jimmy was one of only the customers that George would trust locked in his bar overnight.

Jimmy fixed his clear blue eyes on him. “Boy, I don’t know what’s eating you up the most, the state of your bank account or that bum that ditched your ass two weeks ago. What the hell were you thinking, dating a British swimmer?”

Jimmy knew that George was queer. For an old conservative guy, he didn’t give a damn. “You just don’t appreciate a man’s ass in speedos.”

Yeah, George trusted the old guy, which is why he’d taken a job on his word alone. This bar was his life, it had been his Grandfather's place, and there was no way he’d let it go under without a fight. Jimmy had said it was honest work. Looking at this man now, who was the opposite of Jimmy in so many ways, George wondered what the hell the old man had been thinking.

“I’m Coach Charles,” the man said, shaking George’s hand and looking him up and down. “You ever played ball before?”

With balls, but... “Some Junior league in High school.” He hadn’t exactly been into sports.

“Listen, we just bought a new guy, a hotshot from the Minor League. Hits 380. He’s coming in today. I’ll introduce you to the guys afterward. For now, I need you in this,” he said. He stepped up two of the bleachers and brought a box back down. He passed it to George.

“What the hell?” was George’s first instinct. He recognized the feathery costume in the box. He’d seen it in advertisements around the city. “I’m a batboy, not a pigeon,”

The man chomped down his cigar. “That, son is a goddamn Sparrow-hawk. Now get those feathers over your scrawny ass and meet me back here in fifteen minutes.”

George mentally poured the guy his drink—aged whiskey probably—and mentally spat in it. Only he wouldn’t do that to good whiskey, no sonuvabitch was worth ruining good liquor for. He was used to dealing with drunk people, that was part of running a bar, but people who were just as obnoxious sober?

He was doing this for the bar. The extra daytime salary would keep him afloat until business picked up. So he was the team pigeon—Jimmy was right, it was good money.


Chapter 2

He took the box and went about finding the changing room. He pushed open the door, relieved to find it empty. The place looked like a spa—white tiles and light wooden benches and a row of neat red lockers with tiny names and a pile of branded towels. It still stank of testosterone and sweat, but it wasn’t bad. But then this was the Major Leagues. The Sparrow-hawks were doing well.

He stripped down. He found a towel, a branded towel for chrissake, and looked down the row of showers. It had been ten years since high school, eight since junior league baseball, but the sight of communal showers still made him shudder. He’d take his small, temperamental shower any day.

Still, he turned on the faucet and washed the grime of the day off. OK… so maybe there was something to this continuous flow of hot water. He had his head under the water when he heard a clamor.

“Did someone order the new guy a male hooker?” a voice demanded.

George pulled back from the water, hands over his crotch and turned to face the majority of the Sparrow-hawks team.

A man was standing at the edge of the showers, grinning. He was big, with a chest so broad that it was four times as wide as his head. And this man’s neck—this guy was all muscle. He had red hair, a neat beard, and a lilting southern accent.

His brown eyes ran down George’s body and George wished his towel wasn’t hanging right behind this man’s substantial shoulder. The team stood behind the man, watching the scene with amusement. George felt like he was back in High school. He was 28 for God sake.

“Give me a towel,” George demanded.

The redhead just smiled. “How much are you, or did we buy a package deal?”

“You want to see my package that badly?”

The man stopped smiling. “Got a dirty mouth on ya.”

George’s heart thumped so fast it was coming out of his chest. He dropped his hands away from his crotch. Hello Sparrow-hawks, he thought.

He stepped right up to the redhead, who straightened his back.

“I’m George Danson, I’m helping out here for a while,” he said. Nothing like nudity to unnerve someone. He looked at the rest of the team, who were sizing him up with a little more respect.

“Buddy Rogers,” the redhead said.

He reached his hand across the man’s shoulder like he was reaching into a lion’s cage, and snatched his towel back. He tied the towel around his waist, slowly, like he wasn’t intimidated to be cornered by eight guys in a shower. He walked by them back into the changing room.

Dripping water onto the floor, he faced the lesser evil—the box with the Sparrow-hawk mascot costume. The team watched him as he slid his boxer shorts back on, then the costume. He zipped the itchy polyester over his damp skin and wondered what kind of sadist Jimmy was to think this was a decent gig.

He caught sight of himself in the mirror between the lockers. Sparrow-hawk? More like a chicken-hawk.

Buddy’s thick fingers came into his vision and plucked at his eyelashes. George batted his hand away.

“You got goddamn eyelashes stuck on there?” the man asked. “It’s only training, save your fancying for the game pretty boy.” The guy laughed and slapped him on the ass. What was up with so many straight guys slapping each other on the ass?

He dried his hair off as the team changed. He relaxed a little—they were just normal guys talking crap with each other. The coach hollered down the corridor and George picked up his head. So this was it. This wasn’t the White Sox. Hell, this wasn’t even the Cubs. He put the head on and faced the mirror. There—the transformation was complete. George Danson, twenty-eight, barman and singleton, now turned Sparrow-hawk.

He followed the team through the corridors and back out onto the field. He couldn’t see much through the lousy holes on the mask. But something had happened since he’d put this head on. The team had embraced him as the Sparrow-hawk, like kids at Disneyland who should know better that Mickey Mouse is just an actor in a costume. There was just some magic about a guy putting on a big Styrofoam head.

The coach clapped his hands and took the cigar out of his mouth. “Fall in, meet the new guy,” he bellowed. George followed the guys and made a semi-circle around the coach. George thought, OK, so maybe this gig was going to be OK. Weird, but OK.

“Eric,” the coach said, “Come up here and meet the team.”

And there he was. Eric Stratford, in the flesh. Green eyes with just a fleck of hazel, though George doubted anyone got close enough to see them. The first time he’d noticed them, in Eric’s childhood bedroom while Eric—a boy, then—lifted his thighs against him. God, he could still remember his heart hammering right out of his chest.

Eric—the first guy he’d kissed, the first guy he’d slept with—the guy that George hadn’t seen in six years since he’d hit the Minor Leagues and moved to New York. And George was standing there wearing a god damn mascot suit. A god damn pigeon costume with furry hands. The whole costume seemed ten degrees hotter and the fabric was itching his skin. Sweat pooled in the curve of his back.


Chapter 3

Eric had filled out, George noticed. His head felt light as he ran his eyes up the man’s shapely quads and thighs. He took up more space now, and although he leaned in, shaking the hands of all his new team members, he stood back a little. You see, Eric liked his personal space, and not in an unfriendly way—it wasn’t as if he wanted the world to take a step back, it’s just that a guy like him needed room to work. He needed those two extra steps from him like a carpenter needs a good two feet of clear bench space to focus on his work. That is, except when you were the project that this guy was working on.

George remembered with a shot of arousal when Eric swiped everything off the bed, or his desk, with those big arms, even sending his final project for science class flying to the floor. Like nothing else but George mattered, and that focus, hot and intense, would just swallow the rest of the world up.

“And this our new batboy,” the coach said, shaking George out of his thoughts. The players moved aside and George saw Eric assess the ridiculous suit.

“Take that head off and greet the new guy,” the coach demanded when George hesitated.

“Come on, strip, make it good,” Buddy said and laughed. “We got you a pretty batboy for your first season.”

Eric didn’t react to the comment, still unruffled by the world around him.

George lifted shaking hands to the large head. He wasn’t ready for this. Six years with not so much as a phone call. Six years watching this guy on TV, hearing sports commentators sing his praises, seeing pictures of him in the press with up and coming actresses.

George felt his hair flop over his forehead and his eyes as he pulled the head off. He balanced the head in his left arm and anxiously brushed his bangs aside. He hadn’t had the money to spare for a haircut in three months. Taking the head off was no relief from the heat—his skin was still burning up. What the hell was wrong with him?

Six years and four counties stretched between them like a gulf. Not that a hotshot like Eric Stratford would ever remember him.

He met Eric’s focused green eyes again. “Hey,” George stammered.

George stood helplessly in Eric’s stare. Eric didn’t so much as blink as he took a long look up and down the mascot costume then stepped forward and held his hand out. George looked down at the hand, hot with embarrassment.

Buddy elbowed him in the back. “Shake his hand you dumbass.”

He didn’t remember him, George thought with a sudden depression that surprised him. “George,” he said, putting his hand in Eric’s. The coach began hollering again for the guys to line up and George stepped backwards and winced.

The coach sent them away in a practice match, probably to get the new guy to bond with his new teammates. The Sparrow-hawks had a practice ground of their own over near the east side of the city, only a few blocks from George’s bar. It would be really convenient getting between the two places.

George guessed that they’d wanted to show off the big pitch to Eric. He watched his ex as he stood at the bases between pitches. He watched the man assessing the grand stage he’d found himself on. This place was legendary, and being able to look around here without a guided tour would be pretty intense for any baseball fan. They must have mowed the grass that morning; it had that great fresh smell about it. The bleachers were gleaming in the cold light.

George had been barked at by the coach, and even the players themselves, to fetch and carry bats, gloves, and anything else that was needed. The air was still cold but he was sweating in this pigeon suit. He’d need another shower. Could he gonna risk another team shower?

He took his time bringing back several water bottles from the ice-box, enjoying how the cold bled through the cheap polyester costume to his skin. He went to each player in turn as they took a break from practice. He went to Eric last, who was standing out near third base on his own. As he got closer, the man looked at him with such intensity that George dropped the two remaining bottles he’d been carrying. He crouched down in the grass and picked them up. He wished he was wearing that god damn big Styrofoam head now.

When he got back up, the man was studying him with such intensity that George nearly dropped them again.

Eric reached out and took a bottle before George could offer it, the top of his fingertips brushing George’s stomach. “Jerry, right?”

“George,” George said, reeling from the extra heat of his fingertips. So Eric really didn’t remember him. “I’m just helping out here for a while.”

“So what are you meant to be?”

“What? You so focused on that ball that you don’t know what team you joined?” George said. That made the man look his way, and George kicked the base with his foot. “I’m a Sparrow-hawk, so they tell me. I think I look more like a pigeon.”

Eric didn’t so much as smile, just pinned him down with those green eyes. He drank the remainder of the water and chucked the empty bottle across the grass. “Yeah? Pigeons are damn annoying.”

Truth is, George didn’t recognize Eric either.


Chapter 4

The players filed into the changing rooms, talking crap and slapping each other. George watched the players strip off their uniforms and clamor into the communal shower. Hot steam filled the room.

George wanted a shower too. Sweat covered his elbows, spine, neck, behind his knees, and his body itched like hell all over. He imagined getting back into his Chevy, pressing itchy skin against the worn leather seats.

This wasn’t high school—he was a damn adult. He started to peel off the costume. It wasn’t like he had a bad body, but these guys had large, developed biceps and triceps… and pretty much every other muscle they had.

The coach had called George scrawny, but he couldn’t say anything to that. The only thing he ever exercised was his mouth. He let the costume drop at his feet, stepped out of his boxers and just closed his eyes as he felt the air hit his body. Bliss.

A noise at the door startled him. Sandy blonde hair, damp against his head. Long straight nose and full jawline. No wonder he made the girls so crazy. Eric didn’t move. George’s heart beat blood so hard and fast around his body that he thought it might explode. He could hear the other guys talking loudly in the shower, but in here, the silence was deafening. He’d heard bits on TV about Eric’s career so far, his move up from the Minor Leagues.

“Are you gonna stand there all day, John? Hoping someone’s gonna paint your white ass?” Eric eventually said.

George felt the shot of anger cursing through him. “Did you take too many balls to the head today? It’s George.”

Eric pulled his shirt from his pants and pulled it over his head. He stripped off his trousers next, as George watched with a dry mouth as an expanse of tanned skin appeared. What the hell? His vision was blurred as something hit his face. He pulled the sweaty uniform off his head.

“Keep your eyes in your head,” Eric snapped.

“Maybe he ain’t seen prime ass worth 280 before,” he heard. George turned to see Buddy, freshly showered with a towel around his waist. He hadn’t heard him get out of the shower. “Isn’t that right pretty boy?” Buddy said and slapped his bare ass.

Was that… Buddy defending him?

“Yeah? And what’s your ass worth?” Eric asked. This team could buy and sell you twice for what they paid for me.”

George lifted his arms and put his hands behind his head as he watched Buddy square off and crick his enormous neck muscles to the side. OK… he guessed having a new hotshot on the team was always gonna cause some friction with the other players. But why was he always naked when conflict happened?

Eric was squaring off too, even though he was far smaller than Buddy. Hell, everyone was smaller than Buddy. Eric was also naked, and George fought to keep his eyes above the men’s necks. Gay porn directors would pay this kind of thing, ‘locker room shenanigans 3’.

Eric was showing no signs of backing down. He’d always been like that. George figured he’d stare down a freight train if it came to it. He remembered the time Eric had stared down a couple of homophobes in downtown Chicago when they were kids. But it was clear here that Buddy had the upper hand. Was Eric really gonna throw away his first shot at the Major Leagues just because of some jealous asshole on his team?

“So you don’t hit 280?” George asked Buddy. The man’s impressive neck turned in his direction with his green eyes blazing.

“I can hit 280,” Buddy barked back.

“Then why are you wailing on some overpriced douche if you can hit 280? Personally, the guy stinks and the longer you keep him here, the longer we have to smell him.”

Buddy blinked, then laughed so hard that George’s ears hurt before he got another slap on his naked ass. Seriously, what was it with straight athletes touching each other’s asses?

“Just do my laundry bat boy,” Eric drawled as he went into the showers.

By the time Eric was finished and George got into the showers, his skin was itching like crazy. Not only his skin—there was a hot feeling in his blood. He felt the warm water exploding against his head and shoulders, taking all the hours of old sweat with it.

Eric, god damn Eric Stratford was actually here. He felt himself harden at the thought. He tried to ignore it. He remembered the determined teenager he’d come to love. God, they’d fumbled, their hot mouths landing anywhere they could reach, not knowing what could feel good. Bodies, skin pressing-

He groaned, resting his forehead on the tiles in front of him. He couldn’t hear any of the guys outside anymore. They’d showered ages ago. George was thankful that this wasn’t like the shower at his apartment with about a pan full of hot water before it ran cold. It felt so good that George thought that this circus has been worth it after all. He hoped the showers at the training ground were this good.

He tried to think of anything else but Eric, but seeing the man again had brought him to the front of his thoughts. He’d thought about Eric a lot over the past few years, but he never thought he’d actually see him in the flesh again, not after his career really started taking off. George felt the water trickle down his back and shoulder blades as he realized he was achingly hard. He could even smell the shampoo Eric used to use—apple and mint.

He couldn’t go back put there with an erection, not if there was any chance of bumping into any into the players again. He stood there for an agonizingly long minute and didn’t touch it. He tried to think of anything but Eric Stratford. Tried not to think of his developed quads, his long elegant nose, his focused eyes burning into his back as he used to whisper into his ear.

“So you’re queer,” a voice said.

George’s blood, that had burned like lava under his skin, turned ice cold.

Eric.


Chapter 5

George stood there for what might have been a full minute and just stared at the man. His short blonde hair was completely dry but he still had a towel around his waist. Hadn’t he dressed by now?

Except that the man was pale. George brushed the water from his face to get a better look. Eric was completely white like he'd gotten lost in a snowstorm. The man's hazel-flecked eyes met his own challengingly as he stripped off his towel. White powder floated to the floor.

Not snow—Eric was covered in talcum body powder. His lower body, where his towel had been, was two shades darker than the rest of him. George dragged his eyes back up and turned his whole body away from Eric, hiding his erection. He saw the man get into the shower two faucets down. George watched the white powder wash down the large drain in the middle of the floor.

"You have an argument with a snow globe? How do you manage to throw talcum powder all over yourself anyway?" Eric didn't reply. He was using his razor focus to angrily scrub the power from his hair.

Actually, when had Eric ever used talcum powder? Buddy, George realized. It must have been a prank. When had it happened? How long had Eric been standing out there? George flushed with shame. Had he been waiting to come back in? Had he heard...?

"He's just trying to take you down a peg," George said. Who could blame the guy, he thought, but kept that to himself. “He thinks you’re going to outshine him.” If Buddy worked half as hard as Eric did, maybe he’d stand a chance. But Eric also had an affinity for baseball; he was a natural talent.

Eric stared at him. “You ever shut up bat boy?”

George stared back, showing he wasn’t intimidated. “Yeah, ‘cos you look like you got this under control, big man,” he drawled.

“So you’re being paid to dress up as a giant pigeon and be at our beck and call? Your parents must be proud," Eric said, and grief filled George's chest. Memories of his mother's funeral, and his father, sat on that bar stool, drowning himself.

George didn't care that this was the biggest hotshot at his new job, or that he'd once loved him. The boy he'd loved was gone. Too many screaming fans had chased the humanity out of him. And George knew, with absolute certainty, that Eric Stratford didn't remember him at all.

George turned to him, forgetting his nudity. “What makes Eric Stratford so god damn special? That you can hit a pig ball out of a ballpark?" he stopped and took a deep breath. “Listen—all I was just trying to say is that, I’m the new guy too, I get it. It can’t be easy coming into a Major League team with a reputation like yours, some guys are gonna feel threatened—”

"The day I need advice from a grown man who dresses up as a pigeon—"

"Has the god damn altitude up there popped your ear drums? I was trying to help.

“Don’t you ever shut up?” Eric said. He put his hands on George’s collarbone and looked at him so intensely that George nearly said, it's me. I’m not some stranger, it’s me, George. But the man just held him tighter and nestled his face against George's neck. What the...?

Then Eric's lips were on his own. George tried to put a rational thought together, but everything was just melting.

He was hard again. Eric’s body pressed up against his own, and it was equally familiar and different. He knew Eric had filled out, but the way they fit together now proved it. George was as scrawny as ever, and he now fit inside Eric’s arms.

Eric pushed him back against the tiles, his hand wrapping around his cock. All George could do was try to remember to breathe as Eric stroked him slowly. He didn’t speak, believing that if he did he would lose the man’s focus.

Eric watched him, that sharp focus entirely on him. He didn’t smile, just stared with such intensity that George’s entire skin prickled with heat as he bucked into the other man’s hand. He reached a shaking hand to Eric’s groin, and heard the man hitch his breath, almost inaudibly, as he took hold of his cock. Eric steadied himself on one arm, his muscles taut next to George’s face. George turned around and licked at the clean skin there. Eric hissed and his grip tightened and the movement increased in urgency. He brushed his thumb over the tip of his penis and George put his face against Eric’s collarbone with an undignified moan.

The next thing he knew he’d been turned around and he his face was against the tiles. Eric’s hand reached around and stroked George with renewed urgency as Eric’s own penis pressed against the cleft of George’s ass. All of George’s nerves were on fire as the man continued to almost fuck the cleft of his ass all the while Eric continued to stroke him.

George moved his head to the side, anxious to look at the man’s face, wondering if he’d see the boy he once knew. Eric, sensing his movements, pressed George’s shoulders back against the tile and started kissing George’s neck. Whatever thoughts George was thinking turned into white noise as he came against the shower tile. He struggled to breathe, watching his come wash down the wall towards the drain.

Eric traced his fingers down his cheek as George felt the man panting against the back of his neck. He became aware of the wetness in the curve of his back.


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