Uncle Ralph’s had seats eight rows behind the Pirates dugout. “Herre we go!”
“Are you still doing that?”
“Arr to you.” The sun had set behind the outfield, the light cold and yellow. The Pirates were ahead.
“You want a beerrr, picaroon?”
“She got an ID?” The vendor demanded.
“She’s my niece, Willie. Back from college.”
“I need an ID.”
“She’s going to Desert Storm in a week. Is that enough for you?”
He trudged back up the stairs.
“Desert Storm?” I said. “Summer school is more like it.”
“You’re tough. Nobody messes with you.” He raised his beer. “Ray would have killed you.”
“What about mother?”
“I don’t know. She would have been upset, but I think she would have taken your side. She was always family first.” He jumped out of his seat, yelling. “Come on, run it out! Arriba! Arriba! You’re a hell of a hitter, Van Slyke! But you’re lazy as a dog! Flojo! You’ll be in the nine spot if you don’t wake up! Come on, Andy!” We watched Van Slyke jog back toward us, take his batting helmet off and lob it into the dugout. Uncle Ralph nodded at the next batter. “You know this guy? Parrish. He’s a Marooner from the Tigers. Probably his last season. He’s supposed to be helping out Van Slyke and Merced. Good luck on that.”
“What do you mean family first?”
“And he swings at the first pitch. Take the money and run, Lance. Take the money and run.”