No Runs, No Hits, No
By Jane Greensmith
Slanting golden light shimmered as the summer evening lengthened and deepened the soft green shadows of the ball field. Kathleen sat for a moment in her car and savored the beauty of the scene. Then a shout went up, rousing Kathleen from her reverie. She hurriedly grabbed her scorebook and walked over to the stands.
She sat down next to Lettie Bridges.
"Did I miss much?" she asked.
"Just the first inning," Lettie answered, giving Kathleen a quick hug and then turning back to the game.
The pitcher lofted the ball, and a little dark-haired batter swung and missed. Kathleen shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted to see which runners were on base. The girl on second base waved to her. Kathleen blew her a kiss in reply.
Kathleen and the other parents watched the little girls valiantly trying to hit, throw, catch, and run. Between innings, her daughter Kellie, the little girl who had waved from second base, ran up and out of the dugout and hugged Kathleen, burying her head in Kathleen’s soft blouse.
Connie Martinez joined Kathleen and Lettie in the stands of the ball field at the Riverdale Boys and Girls Club. After Harry’s funeral, Kathleen had given Connie the money she had raised for a grassy playground and a gym floor. Connie had named the playground the Harry Kinsley Memorial Field. Ten years later, the field was pristine. Thick lush grass now grew where Harry had once coached the Riverdale boys surrounded by weeds and broken bottles and grime.
Kathleen’s husband, Kellie’s father, Gabe Garcia, the man she had ditched because she thought he talked sports too much, coached their daughter’s team. Carly, one of the little girls to whom Kathleen taught origami in an effort to inspire her and the others to make their own luck instead of merely watching it dissipate, was on the Riverdale High softball team. Luis was an intern in the law office where Kathleen had just made partner, and Manuel was working three jobs trying to save money for college.
After getting her masters in art history, Kathleen had gone to Matthew Dixon and demanded his help in getting into law school so that she could become a children’s advocate in the courtroom. He had been more than happy to continue to have her in his debt, he had told her with a smile. She asked him if she could join him and Jack for a little night golf. He told her she didn’t need to play night golf to howl at the moon.
In the third inning, Jack and Colleen showed up to watch Kellie’s game.
"How are they doing so far?" Jack asked, as they settled into the stands.
"No runs, no hits, no errors," Lettie replied.
"What does that mean, anyway," Kathleen asked, turning to her brother-in-law.
"It means nothing’s happened," Jack explained. "Nobody’s scored, nobody’s gotten on base, and nobody’s made any mistakes. In other words, nothing worth noting has happened."
"So the game, thus far, has been a waste of time?" Kathleen commented dryly.
"Oh no, Kathleen, it’s playing that matters. Giving it your all. Being out there on the field. Sweating, cheering, getting your knees dirty, coming up fighting. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Runs, hits, errors—they’re just bookkeeping. The game really happens between the white spaces on the score card."