Annie stirred restlessly on the hot seats. She wanted to travel about the new stadium, but the game was too exciting. Not a game filled with inning after inning of ho-hum plate appearances, there had been strikeouts, homers, wild pitches, and stealing of bases by the fourth inning to satisfy all the fans.
Paying for a Coke and a dog, she settled back to watch the fifth inning. The game was tied, and both teams seemed equal in quality this day. The next few innings swept by, with no change in the score. Suddenly, Annie realized it was the ninth inning. Sitting up straighter, she readjusted her lucky hat and her sunglasses, and started sending mental signals to the pitcher, as if she could help him keep the game safe until their team got up to bat.
The opposing team’s at-bat was a home run race leader in the current season. Sorry to keep him from adding another to his list, Annie silently chanted, “miss, miss, miss” on the good pitches, and “swing!” on the walk balls. Someone must have been listening, because he struck out. The next player was eliminated quickly, as a short fly ball sped right into the shortstop’s glove.
The home team fans were on their feet, leaving approximately 40% of the stands filled with seated, anxious ticket holders who wanted to see a run. The ball sailed across the plate and with a noisy crack, the bat split and the ball soared over the heads of the infield players. The seated crowed jumped to their feet, hollering and stamping their feet; the home team fans dejectedly resumed their seats as the ball continued toward home run territory; that is, all except Annie. She recognized the spirit that had gone into that swing; although the man was a professional ball player, he had put an extra bit of pride and hope into his move. “Run!” she screamed as loudly as she could. “Hurry!”
One by one, those seated stood up, joining in Annie’s call. The entire stadium was rocking with the sounds of “move it,” “run,” and “Go, go, go!” Embarrassed, Annie wondered how she was going to live it down: being so caught up in the action, she was rooting for the wrong team.
The batter got home safely, and the ball sailed out of the park. Two outfielders attempted a noble leap to stop the ball, but it was too high to reach. The ninth inning ended with Annie’s team losing. Fans from both sides approached her as she made her way out of the stadium. “We’re sorry your team lost,” said a couple of kids. “That was nice of you to cheer our guy on, though, when he hit that homer.” A couple of her friends from college intercepted her next. “Hey, Annie,” one said, “that was great you got our side cheering for the players as they tried to stop that homer. Nice thinking!”