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Arby's Pain (standard:drama, 3605 words)
Author: TJCAdded: Jul 18 2004Views/Reads: 2128/1471Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is a story about a young man facing the changes in his life, as well as the coming of adulthood. He funnels his frustrations into a stellar perfomrance on the baseball field.


Arby Oswell  was a good high school pitcher, a lefty, aggressive and
highly competitive. However, he didn't throw big heat, did not have a 
big bending curve, and was not quite six feet tall.  Despite having won 
23 games against just 7 losses in his career, not one scout had even 
given him a second look.  He loved pitching and being on the mound in 
control of a game.  Part of him thought if given a chance he might be 
able to win some games at the next level, be that junior college, a 
university, maybe even the low minors.  The hard truth, though, was 
that this day was going to be his last as a pitcher.  The end of his 
childhood.  He knew he was never going to be the left-handed Nolan Ryan 
as he had boasted when he was a little leaguer. 

Baseball just wasn't the same that spring when the Angels started the
1980 season without  Nolan Ryan, who had gone off to Houston.  Arby had 
been an Angel fan since he was little.  Most of his friends in the 
valley were Dodger fans, but he loved the Angels because of his 
favorite player, the great Nolan Ryan.   He was the reason he decided 
to take up pitching as a child.   At age 11, in 1973, he marveled as 
his hero threw two no-hitters in the same season and struck out a 
record 383 batters.   Two years later, with his father, he was the Big 
A when Ryan threw his fourth career no-hitter beating the Orioles 1-0.  
The gem tied Ryan with Dodger great Sandy Koufax and it was only a 
matter of time before he passed the LA legend.  All through his 
formative years he watched the Angels on channel five and listened to 
Dick Enberg so eloquently explain the game and extol the exploits of 
his hero. 

Even though he wasn't an Angel anymore, Arby still loved Nolan Ryan.  He
followed his season in the box scores and read every article he could 
find in the sports magazines.  There was no way he could be a true fan 
though, because he never got to see the man pitch.  He still loved the 
Angels and such players as Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, and Frank Tanana, 
but everything felt different. 

The rest of Arby Oswell's life had been different lately too, and it
wasn't just because he was 18, facing high school graduation and 
staring into the abyss of what he felt was an uncertain future.  That 
same year his father died of a sudden heart attack and his best friend 
and he had drifted apart about the same time. There were American 
hostages in Iran and the world seemed full of hatred.   Nothing was the 
same and now his baseball life was ending too. 

Things had changed a great deal with the guy who was Arby's best friend
growing up, Jim “The Spider” Albrecht.  He and the spider had been 
friends since their first year of major little league at age 10.  His 
friend was called the spider due to his abnormally long legs and arms 
on a relatively normal body.  While Arby pitched and played 
centerfield, Spider played shortstop.  He was a better ball player than 
Arby.  He was also more popular, funnier, better looking, and a better 
overall athlete.  Arby became the tag-along friend to Spider, but he 
didn't mind all that much.  His more popular friend made him laugh and 
in a way raised his own popularity to a higher level than it would have 
otherwise risen. 

Arby was a good friend to Spider.  Two years earlier, when his parents
split and eventually divorced, Arby stood by him and for a while was 
the only person he talked to.  They went everywhere together, did 
everything together, were for all practical purposes, inseparable. 

But this year, their senior year of high school, things began to change.
 Part of it was the self-imposed shell Arby had constructed after the 
death of his father, but it was also the fact that he had begun to show 
an interest and aptitude in creative writing and literature.  These 
were areas in which Spider had no interest.   He took to writing short 
stories about every thing he could imagine and read voraciously, even 
the classics such as Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, and Huckleberry 
Finn.   Modern novels were also devoured.  Jaws, Childhood's End, and 
Rich Man, Poor Man to name just a few.  His teacher, Mr. Piatt 
convinced him he might have a future with the written word and he 
started writing every night before he went to bed and reading every 
chance he got.  He'd read at lunch, during breaks, even while waiting 
for baseball practice to begin.  For him, it was an escape from the 
world, and, along with baseball itself, it was a wonderful distraction. 

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