Major League Baseball has been crippled by yet another players’ strike, and the fans have had enough, tired of paying to see ballplayers with seven-figure egos but ten-cent work ethics.
When baseball’s commissioner floats the idea of enlisting the minor leaguers to keep revenues flowing, Lew Pearson, the aging player-manager of the Triple-A Indianapolis Outlaws, sees his chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Having never had more than a “cup of coffee” in the big league, Lew leaves his wife and two young kids behind to play in the bigs, even though he knows he and his teammates will just be the pawns of the owners. Baseball runs deep in his blood – his father’s own professional dreams were trampled on many years before – and despite the big asterisk that will accompany every game, it’s an opportunity that beckons him.
But no one, including Lew, the owners and the striking Major Leaguers, could predict how fans would embrace these farmhands, who take the field every day not for their big paychecks but purely for the love of the game. At first the crowds are small, but as the fan frenzy takes root in ballparks across the country, both sides of the strike confront a new normal, and an audacious plan takes shape in board rooms to determine once and for all whether the Major Leaguers or the minor leaguers will get the privilege of remaining in “the show.”
Gary Frisch is a long-time sports fan with a special place in his heart for hockey and baseball. A lifelong writer and former journalist, he has contributed many articles and columns to a variety of newspapers and magazines. He was inspired to write Strike Four as a result of multiple player strikes and lockouts that marred baseball in the 1980s and ‘90s, during which the media frequently speculated that owners might bring up minor league players to fill the rosters.
Frisch works in the public relations field, and has owned his own PR agency since 2007. In 2015, he was named to Linkedin’s inaugural list of “Top Voices of the Year” for his contributions to the business networking site’s blog. He lives in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, with his wife and two children, and frequently writes under the watchful eye of his cat and two dogs.
Being self-employed and working from home as a PR professional (my day job) and writer (my side gig), my life has not been drastically altered by pandemic stay-at-home orders. I’m a proud homebody, taking great pleasure in my man cave and my backyard pool. However, I do miss dining out, and I long for returning to stores without having to possibly wait in line for admittance and wearing a mask to enter. Beyond that, I was deeply disappointed that my daughter’s college graduation ceremony was postponed. She’s worked so hard for the past four years and we were so proud, and really looking forward to commencement and a big party sometime afterward. The university is promising an in-person ceremony later in the year, which might be nice, but it likely won’t be the same as many students will be scattered to the wind by that time, unable to return to campus. On the bright side, with almost no place to go, and no distraction from professional sports, I’m getting more work done!
Strike Four A Baseball Novel
All the while the minor leagues, predictably, flourished. For want of baseball, fans from Major League cities began making excursions to the backwaters of baseball, places like Hamilton, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Pawtucket, Rhode Island; Des Moines, Iowa; and Oneonta, New York. Places like these were the sport’s proving grounds, rich in hopes and dreams but poor in creature comforts. As a result of the strike, frequently empty parking lots became densely populated forests of steel, single-lane access roads became pockmarked beneath unexpected traffic jams, and once-deserted bleachers creaked beneath shoulder-to-shoulder people. The farmhands from Triple-A all the way down to A-Ball finally received the attention they always felt they richly deserved. And for the first time in its history, the Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League sold out of hot dogs by the fourth inning.