Episode 14 — Chapter 16

| Jun 15, 2020 | Baseball Immortal | 0 comments

Episode 14 — Chapter 16

by Roland Colton | Baseball Immortal

Chapter   16

 

Savannah Cain sat at her desk on the thirty-eighth floor of the highrise. She turned away from her computer for a moment, and looked out the window at the Gateway Arch rising in the sky majestically next to the Mississippi River. From her vantage, she could also see Busch Stadium and most of the infield playing surface. She let out a sigh and then returned her attention to the monitor. For the next several minutes, she pounded on the keyboard until the letter was finished.

Dear Ramsey,

It has been a pleasure working with you at Sport Report for the past few years. You’ve been a great friend and mentor, and I appreciate all your support and praise. I know you’ve sensed my frustration at getting passed over for feature stories, especially when I proposed the piece and often ended up ghost-writing much of it. When I first arrived here, you warned me that it was a male-dominated business and that a woman faced stiff obstacles breaking through. I guess I always believed that I would be the exception, but apparently that’s not the case.  Although sports journalism has always been my passion, I feel compelled to move onto mainstream journalism in order to reach my full potential.

Reluctantly, I am providing you two weeks notice of my resignation. I will insure all of my pending assignments are completed before my departure.

I wish you all the best.

Savannah

Savannah shook her head. Though she had great facility for writing about sports, composing a resignation letter had been tedious. “Mainstream,” really? What area of journalism does that even refer to? It wasn’t the first time she had drafted a resignation. Still, she wasn’t happy with the latest version; it sounded too egocentric, too ungrateful, too impersonal. She had always been a team player, happy to support others any way she could, but it was irritating and tiresome to see editor Shields heaping praise on other writers for work she had largely authored. Four years was long enough!

Baseball had been Savannah’s first love. The youngest of six children and the only girl, Savannah had been indoctrinated in the sport ever since learning to walk. She still remembered her eldest brother, Calvin, teaching her about the game before she had turned five. She had been thrilled at the symmetry and simplicity of baseball and still remembered that epiphany some twenty years later.

Savannah’s earliest memories were of watching her older brothers play ball and longing to be a part of their fun. Baseball had been the only sport played in their lower-middle class Charleston neighborhood. It had actually been more than a sport, almost a religion. She had exhibited natural ability and she had learned the proper techniques in throwing a ball, fielding and batting. As she grew, she became by far, the most talented player in a neighborhood full of boys her age. She played in organized leagues through Little League and beyond. To the dismay of some and delight of others, Savannah made the high school baseball team and even became the starting second baseman her senior year. As the lead-off batter, she exhibited excellent plate discipline, leading the team in base-on-balls. She also led the team in stolen bases, with speed which was also displayed in running track. It was jarring for opposing high school pitchers to have a female batter line a single to left and steal second base at the beginning of a game. Though she had offers to play for local junior colleges, she elected to focus on a career in sports journalism, recognizing the virtual impossibility of a major league career.

As a female sports reporter of understated beauty, Savannah wore little make-up and took pleasure in the response men gave her when she removed her oversized dark glasses and shook her long thick hair from beneath a baseball cap; hers was a seductive, darker shade of blond, similar to the color of sand in a seashore. She claimed to be 5 feet 7 inches tall, but never could get the measuring tape to quite reach past 5 ft. 6½.  With a slender build, Savannah de-emphasized her natural attractiveness by catering to a tomboyish look in clothes. Her delicate features and large-than-life green eyes belied one’s initial impression of the prototypical female journalist. However, trying to get past the entrenched male bias at Sport Report, particularly in baseball, seemed insurmountable. Her pleasing appearance seemed to only make matters worse—as if a pretty female writer couldn’t possibly be knowledgeable about something as cerebral as baseball.

The curves of Savannah’s body had been pleasantly firmed and contoured in just the right proportions as a result of her penchant for fitness and love of sports, providing her with a figure most women would die for. While baseball remained her first and only true love, Savannah no longer played the game except at random magazine picnics or family reunions. Baseball, as a personal physical pursuit, had been replaced by tennis, golf and swimming.

Savannah had never really known if she had been hired at Sport Report because of her looks, her scholastic excellence, the celebrity aura of her older sibling, or all of the above. Calvin Cain was already a star pitcher in the major leagues of many seasons, when she had begun working at Sport Report. Unfortunately, as he entered his late 30’s, Calvin’s fastball began to fade and he received his unconditional release the previous fall, after a third-straight sub-par season. Nevertheless, he had enjoyed a spectacular career, winning 20 games four different times, including the coveted Cy Young Award ten years before. His best years had been with the Atlanta Braves, although he had seen service with four different clubs since. The forced retirement had been a bitter pill for Calvin to swallow because he had failed to achieve two of his career goals: winning 300 games and pitching in the World Series. His victory total of 289 was head and shoulders above any other active pitcher, making him a virtual lock for enshrinement in baseball’s Hall of Fame, yet it gnawed at him that he had failed to enter that very select fraternity of pitchers who had amassed 300 career victories; it was a particularly disappointing since he had seemed a cinch to reach that goal just a couple of years before. Even more disappointing was the fact that he had never played in the World Series. Now forty-one years of age, Calvin was relegated to the not unpleasant task of managing the thousand-acre cattle farm in western South Carolina which his success in baseball had enabled him to acquire.

Savannah glanced at the clock. It was just thirty minutes from closing time. She printed the letter and read it a second time. With a shrug of her shoulders, she signed her name and placed it in an envelope.  She would leave it with Ramsey’s secretary on her way out.

I can’t believe that I’m actually going through with it!

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door and the errand boy handed Savannah a one page memorandum. She scanned it quickly. Editor Shields was requesting that all writers attend a special meeting in the boardroom the following day to present ideas for the upcoming 100th anniversary edition of Sport Report.

Savannah gave a knowing smirk. She’d been invited to similar meetings before, always for this or that special edition, although there had been much more fanfare for the centennial publication. On several occasions, Shields had selected her recommendation for a feature story, but then assigned the task to a more seasoned male writer. This time, they would just have to get along without her input.

The minutes slowly ticked away and at five minutes to 5 p.m., Savannah stood up from her desk and grabbed the envelope. She walked down the hall to Ramsey’s office. Joanna, Ramsey’s red-haired secretary, was babbling away on the phone. Savannah stood silently by, waiting for her to finish. Still gabbing, the secretary noticed Savannah standing with envelope in hand and she extended her palm out.

Savannah walked toward Joanna and then smiled and shook her head, and pulled the envelope back, mouthing, “I’ll give it to him tomorrow.” The letter just seemed too impersonal. She’d take another look at the letter in the morning and do one more re-write. Then, she would deliver it to Ramsey, in person.

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