| "Designated Hitter" |
Set in OTL
|Type of Appearance:||Direct first-person narrator|
|Date of Birth:||20th century|
Dr Strangeglove was the nickname of a man who played beer league softball and received the nickname from his inability to field. As a result, he usually was the designated hitter on the Gators but sometimes was the catcher.
At the start of one spring season, the Gators had only ten players show up, the minimum to prevent a forfeit. Some had transferred out of state, others were working nights and so not able to play. During the game, Strangeglove sprained his shoulder diving for third base after trying for an extra base.
So the next week, Dr Strangeglove could only stand in the sidelines with his arm in a sling. The Gators were short one player and Wes Humphreys, the pitcher / manager, was desperate especially since a player named Roy had called him to tell him he had the flu and couldn't play. In desperation, he asked a spectator by the name of Michael to play. Michael proved a good player, despite the fact that he got on base with blooper hits every time he was at bat. He was invited to join the team.
Two weeks after his injury, Dr Strangeglove's arm still hurt but was healed enough for him to play. He joined the warm-up exercises and found himself throwing a softball back and forth, first with Pete Sadowski, then with Michael. To save his arm, he threw only knuckleballs. Michael was dumbfounded by the way the ball wobbled this way and that and asked him to do it over and over again. He finally asked Strangeglove how he did it and Strangeglove grandly answered "mind over matter". Michael was obviously surprised and continued to catch knuckleballs thoughtfully.
As the game started, Michael told him "congratulations, I doubted your people could do such a thing". Strangeglove said "huh?" and was about to ask what he meant when Michael had to go out on deck. During the course of the inning, Strangeglove forgot his question but remembered after the game when the team went out for the usual beer and pizza. However, Michael had left early and did not show up for the next game or the one after.
The Gators continued to play in the spring league without Michael and ended tied for third place. Then they played in two summer leagues and then in a fall league. The team took a break for the winter and gathered for their first workout in the following spring. That was cancelled because the aliens showed up.
Around the world, each country received a television broadcast in their dominant language. For the U.S. it was a grey humanoid with blue hair in cornrows and a pin-striped, three piece suit undoubtedly to reassure the natives. He greeted humankind and congratulated them for qualifying for admittance to the "Confederacy of Sentient Beings". These qualifications were: 1) to develop controlled nuclear energy; 2) to begin to explore outer space, and 3) to begin to master their minds and control objects directly.
The alien then demonstrated the last by levitating an object on the desk in front of him six inches. He indicated this last requirement was the key and without it no race could be considered mature. He said that the aliens feared that humans did not possess this ability but finally one of their investigators discovered a human with rudimentary powers. He then nodded at a redheaded black man with a Gators ball cap in the background: Michael. He closed with further congratulations and said the aliens would soon be landing.
Humans all over the Earth celebrated because of all the potential benefits: end of war, new trade and knowledge, expanded horizons. However, Dr Strangeglove was a little worried. What if the aliens found out how a knuckleball was really thrown?