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Day 25
On December 8th, 1992
Kelly Gruber Was Traded to the California Angels for Luis Sojo

December 7th, 1992. 10:00 PM

Kelly stands at the punch bowl stirring his whiskey straight up with the index finger from his right hand; he's looking around: sometimes finding sometimes dodging the eyes of the people. Making the place.

You would not be wrong to call it a ballroom and though people are dancing they are still a spectacle at this point—'hey look some people are dancing!'—and as yet have not been joined by enough dancers to make dancing a legitimate option for the shy, the inhibited or even the vaguely discreet. Kelly only dances to slow songs and dancing isn't on his mind now anyway—nothing to prove out there.

He is thinking about the immediate future—has he played his last game as a Toronto Blue Jay? Will he be shipped out of town? Will it be a blockbuster? His agent a scrawny balding little fixer from LA says there is 'loads of interest', so much so we had to hire 'an extra broad to beat 'em off with a stick.' He's always-making jokes like that and like always Kelly is complicit because he chuckles.

'You don't need Toronto, way more endorsements in California or Texas! Angels, Mets, maybe Houston in a three way deal?!You don't need the Toronto Blue Jays!'

But, shit, does he?—as he looks around this room at the World Series Champions. His teammates. His people. This city he owned three years ago—shit. Does he?

Kelly is back into the party now. Not really listening to a guy from Toronto—'well, Etobikoe actually, but we sure love the city'—-who is chewing Kelly a new ear about how much this year meant to him, to the entire family…to the country:

"Yeah—the wife and I drove down for all the playoff games this year. We just knew. Didn't you? It's just done so much for us! For Canada!"

Fucking Canadians.

Kelly remembers a joke someone told him when he signed with Toronto, ' How do you get 1,000 Canadians out of a pool?' 'Ask them to get out of the pool.' Good joke. (Kelly thinks what he would do if some Canadian tried to get him out of a pool before he was ready. He'd probably get out of the pool alright, with a big mouth full of water to spit all over the sap before doing a perfect half-gainer back into the pool—Show him)

He'd like to play some place warmer than here though, that's for sure. But it will be like starting over: new trainers, new dry cleaners, new hair salons, new checkout girls in new grocery stores. 'Angels, Mets, maybe Houston in a three way deal.' Maybe get a swimming pool shaped like a baseball glove, if it's Houston, for the folks.

"Yeah-the wife and I drove down for all the playoff games this year."

He is still talking to Kelly, this old man his body and hair failing under the weight of his too long life absent any real thrill. He'd trade his wife, his kids, their house, the car, the weekend place in cottage country and his retirement savings for thirty seconds of how it feels to play in the major leagues: for the bumps all over you you get from knowing there are fifty thousand people present watching your every move, and thousands on television, millions. Kelly's looking straight into the guy's eyes now—Can you see it?

"I really thought you had 'em"

Kelly snaps back to attention or at least pays some attention to what the man is now saying, or at least enough attention to ask, sleepy-eyed, "What?"

The man is clearly taken aback that Kelly has spoken to him and composes himself visibly and before speaking, wipes the dampness off his chin, "I thought you had 'em. You know, on the triple play. I was sure you had 'em." Kelly bites his lip because inside he is screaming. Screaming the same three words he screamed at the umpire, the same three words he half-whispers walking away subtly now for warmer climbs,

"I got 'em."

"The umpire sure didn't think so," he says laughing to Kelly's turned back. Kelly does not turn around.

Kelly thinks about telling the guy how the ump admitted he blew the call, how the ump himself said, "You got 'em." He thinks about bumrushing the old man into the punch bowl and dunking his head in the red juice three long times—one for each out—or until he admitted that it was him and the ump, not Kelly, missing something. Instead he walks out to the center of the room and spins 360 degrees in place.


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Day 24 | Kelly Home | Day 26

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