Number 34 Fernando Venezuela Throws a Screwball on my TV
by Thomas Coaker

Offscreen play-by-play man Dick Enberg says something like: “It’s a
2-2 count. Dickie Thon at the plate. Man on first and second. 
Fernando takes the mound.”

Thirty-four’s foot dusts the rubber.

A quick shirtsleeve swipe to the brow, 
Dodgers script stretches on his jersey, a
 breath of linseed from his ball glove
turned oxygen mask—
like a nerve tonic.
Stadium lights bead sweat but drown
wild cheering stirred by
Fernandomania!

Dick’s lips brush against the yellow
NBC mike cover. He clears

his throat to play it off and says: “His previous pitch, a
fastball—humming in at 96 miles per hour.”

The crowd chants “Fernando,” and the producers in the van
cut to crowd reactions.

A family of Latinos
 stretch a bed sheet, 
“Viva Fernando”

in DayGlo technicolor.

Enberg says, “ Screwball’s got to be next.”

The hind catcher smiles at Fernando and gives him an upside down middle finger.

Fernando makes an OK sign,

grips the ball, spaces the fingers in between
the seams.

His leg lifts, hips twist,

his body rocks, and his head cocks to the heavens. 
Arm goes into an L.

Leg whips and lands. Fernando
bends and watches.

The ball propels in a high arc at Dickie’s head,

who takes a step back with gaped mouth and eyes big as
donut weights.

Fernando pulls a magic string, 
the ball drops,

Dickie swings.


Tom Coaker lives somewhere on the Alabama/Mississippi state line. When he's not working on his novel, "Days Work," he's listening to David Bowie with Camden; reading "The Road" (or something like it) with Cassidy on Kindle app, with a million cords running from the iPad to the TV, just like his mom Roxanne used to fuss at his father Eddie's technological wasp nests; or watching Breaking Bad (same as "The Road) with Dora and Chloe. Sometimes he just watches old college football games from his 80s-90s childhood on YouTube. He especially likes it when the commercials aren't edited out of the old broadcasts.