The season over, I lugged my ever-packed bags to the airport, my belongings jumbled together like toys in a toy box, as disorganized as my life. I departed the morning after our last defeat in Akron and made the short trip to St. Louis.
Upon arrival, I waited for my cursed bags with teammate Brock Bond. Informed via text of my wife’s arrival, I anxiously attempted small talk with Brock as a small man with a swine-flu mask (never a good sign in an airport) rocked beside us. The ten-minute interval seemed interminable.
Finally, it appeared: a bulky 56 pounder. The baseball bag proceeded next around the corner, and I removed it as a cowpoke might manhandle a sack of feed, nearly knocking over a college-aged girl and her fake eyelashes. I muttered a quick apology, but with Brock’s bags also in tow, we raced for the door.
I passed the last turnstile as Brock opened the exit door. I spotted my wife standing beside her car. Our eyes met as my hand pushed the door forward. Mere seconds separated us.
And then I fell.
The baseball bag, perhaps in a last act of rebellion to dominate my life, caught the edge of the door. A victim of gravity, I fell backwards, bags flying everywhere, feet up in the air. Somewhere behind me the man with swine flu chuckled beneath his mask, and even fake eyebrows shook her head in disapproval. Meanwhile my wife left the car and ran towards me, disregarding airport etiquette. In a snap decision, I leapt forward and left my bags cluttering the entrance.
“Hey!! You can’t leave your car!!” A security guard yelled. “And hey!!! You can’t leave your bags!!” We met in the middle of the street and she jumped towards me. Luckily I caught her. The security guard became a muffled groan in the distance.
Once home, I deposited my bags in the spare bedroom. They remained neglected for a few days as I mustered the courage to unpack them. The green behemoth, a gift from my in-laws the previous Christmas, seemed most inviting, and so I unpacked some T-shirts one morning. I began to recollect as I listened to a little music.
Good thoughts arrived first. I finished with a 12-6 record and an overall ERA of 3.20. With the exception of one month in Connecticut, I had thrown pretty well despite gypsy-esque movements. I had attained 25 wins over the past two years, surpassed by only one other Giants’ minor leaguer: Madison Bumgarner.
I thought of the fun moments: watching a guy start a small fire in the bullpen for warmth and spraying champagne in two different playoff-clinching celebrations. This led to zany thoughts: an oversized and naked Angel Villalona, joker-sized grin upon his chubby face, adorning himself in the clubhouse with only catching gear and giving signs to a nonexistent pitcher. His future, once so bright, seemed to lead no longer towards MLB stardom but instead towards bars and a cell.
Perhaps this image tainted my thoughts, and I catapulted towards negativity. I picked up a pair of nice slacks, wrinkled and buried at the bottom of my bag. I had intended to use them in AAA Fresno. I had never used them. Cynicism, the thorn of the analytical brain, consumed me.
I thought of the long bus trips. I had accumulated around 185 hours on the bus this year: seven and a half days of my life contorted in a bus seat. Sleepless nights. Bad games. Alone. Without my wife. 27 and in AA. A useless pursuit of a trivial dream.
I then approached the TPX baseball bag. It sat at an angle in the bedroom. One strap dangled from its side and displayed a nametag: “Garrett Broshuis, Pitcher.” It hypnotized me.
“Garrett Broshuis, Pitcher.”
I’d played this game since I was a boy. Pitching had become as much a part of me as my blue eyes and ugly eyebrows. I’d carried this title and all its baggage everywhere I went.
“What do you do?” innumerable people have asked me.
“I play baseball.”
“Really? What position?”
Friends my age sell used cars, mow people’s lawns, or work at the local QuikTrip to earn a paycheck. My paycheck, despite being as thin as a field mouse in the dead of winter, comes from pitching.
“Garrett Broshuis, Pitcher.”
Suddenly my cynicism seemed ridiculous. I should’ve slapped myself in the face.
I didn’t open the baseball bag. It represented so much of my identity, and I couldn’t unpack it. I wondered if I would ever use it again.