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A story about inventing an obsession

The Baseball Story: Welcome


It was really the simplest thing. A couple of dice, some paper, a pencil, and hours of entertainment. He was eight years old and loved baseball. No, love is probably not the right word. Lived baseball is more appropriate.

The boy looked at the Topps’ 1977 Roy Smalley baseball card in his hand. The switch-hitting shortstop had a bushy black moustache and bat was cocked over his right shoulder like he’d just taken a big, luxurious practice swing. The light blue Twins jersey with black and red highlights jumped out to the eyes, but it was just one card in a huge collection.

He wasn’t a fan of the Twins, really, but there was something about Smalley he liked. The visiting team needed a shortstop, and the card was handy, so Smalley would be in the lineup that day. This lineup was going to be pretty decent, he thought.

Dan Driessen at first base, Smalley at short, Frank White at second base, Ken Reitz at third, Gene Tenace behind the plate, and an outfield of Fred Lynn, Dave Parker, and George Foster in center, right, and left respectively. Pitching today would be Tom Seaver, so the Los Angeles Dodgers would have their work cut out for them. He still had to pick a bench, too.

The boy didn’t have the completes set of Topps baseball cards for any team other than the Dodgers. They were his favorite team and his friend, Craig, also collected cards and would put aside any Dodgers he found to trade for Padres, who were his favorite. It was a part of their friendship they both enjoyed and proved to beneficial, even if Craig had no idea how his friend used the cards.

Craig was just a collector and, on occasion, a trader of cards. His friend, our boy in question, used them to make something almost magical. He didn’t quite realize it yet, but he had created game that cured many things: boredom, loneliness, a thirst for repetition, and an aura of order and control.

At this stage of “the game,” the Dodgers would play teams he built randomly from his baseball card collection. It was kind of fun to build the new teams and the Dodgers rarely lost. This was primarily because they were his favorite team and he made up the rules of the game a few months before.

With a few months of practice behind him, he was getting pretty good at drawing the outline of an almost perfect box score on wide-ruled paper. He started by eyeing the center, halfway between the red line that went down the left side of the paper and the right edge. He counted out nine lines down, then three more, for a total of twelve lines. This would be for the batter’s statistics.

After drawing a careful horizontal line across making an upside down “T’ on the paper, he slowly drew another six line long vertical line before stopping and adding a second horizontal line at the 18-line mark. This would give him the space for the pitching numbers, just like on the box scores in the Arizona Republic each day.

Below the pitching boxes, on the left margin he wrote a capital “D” for double, then he skipped a line and wrote a capital “T” for triple, before skipping one more line and writing “HR” for home runs. He drew one more horizontal line (after skipping the line after “HR” and wrote out:

1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9                R  H   E

He was always careful to add in as much extra space as possible between the 9th inning and his runs, hits, and errors spaces. This would take up pretty much an entire side of a piece of wide-ruled paper. At the time, though, he did not think of it was wasteful at all. He thought of it as a day at the stadium.

While it wasn’t perfect, because sometimes he had to double up players on some of the extra batting lines, it worked. He could keep track of all the statistics that would happen in the game, and he would soon figure out how he could compile these statistics to keep track of his “dice” Dodgers for many games at a time.

There were a few times, during 1977, that he thought about showing the game to Craig but after one aborted attempt, he gave it up.

The boy was spending the night over at Craig’s one weekend. Slumber parties were a thing for them in those days and they had them often. Craig wasn’t sure what they should do, so the boy asked him if he had any dice.

“We could make up a game to play,” he said.

The look on Craig’s face was enough for the boy to drop it instantly and he was relieved when Craig said he had another idea. Instead, they went outside to watch Craig’s dad skim leaves out of the pool so they could go swimming. Craig liked to go swimming and the pool in his family’s backyard had a great view of nearby mountains.

Later they would eat dinner. Craig’s mom was a great cook, and the boy was always happy to eat anything she made, but the look on his friend’s face stuck with him throughout swimming and dinner. It stuck with him for years, to be perfectly honest.

The boy thought Craig wouldn’t understand his game because of one puzzled look and it haunted him for a long time.


There was an evolution to the game and dice played an integral role.

A few months earlier, sometime around Valentine’s Day, the boy sat in the living room of his grandparent’s house on Winterhaven Lane in Phoenix, just off 37th avenue. It was the type of street you only traveled on if you knew it was there and most Phoenicians, even in 1977, probably did not know it was there. That was sad, too, as it provided a nice palm tree and citrus lined detour if you wanted to skip turning right at the light on 35th Avenue and Northern which was one block up.

The living room, though, was a fair amount longer than it was wide, and the large picture window on the north wall had a long couch in front of it. He did some of his best thinking on this couch, with two mature grapefruit trees on the other side of the glass that he would climb on warmer days. They were blocking a clear view of the street and the neighbors across the road, but he still liked to look at the trees while he waited for his parents to pick him up after work if he was inside the typically quiet house.

On this particularly cool and crisp February day in the Valley of the Sun, he found himself very much looking forward to the upcoming baseball season and inspiration struck. He had been fooling around with rolling two dice and quickly adding up the numbers recently and created a game where the dice represented the final score of a baseball game.

This was fun for a while but there were a couple of flaws with which the boy could not abide. When you could only roll numbers between two and twelve, there could never be a shutout, and everybody knew what an important part of baseball a shutout was. He was always excited when Don Sutton, who was his favorite pitcher, threw one and Sutton had thrown three in 1976. One against the Mets, one against the Braves, and one against the Cardinals.

How could you have a baseball game where you couldn’t have a shut out?

He also didn’t like how often you had ties. Sure, extra innings were nice, but he wasn’t a fan. Extra innings often meant that he couldn’t hear the end of the game when he and his dad would listen to the Dodger games on the radio. KTAR620AM had almost all the Dodger games on during the year.

So, while he sat and waited for to be picked up, the boy thought about how those numbers on the dice could represent different things. There were lots of possible combinations of numbers and he started thinking about what each one would mean if you played baseball.

He looked to his left at the bookcase, which was packed full, that lined the west wall of the room. There were four rows of shelves going from left to right with a break in the middle large enough for a good-sized picture of trees by a lake. One of the shelves had twelve books on it and it occurred to him that twelve was a special number when it came to dice.

Double sixes were a good thing to roll in Monopoly, which he loved to play with his grandparents, because it got you around the board pretty far and you got to roll again. It should be a special number in the game he was contemplating.

Even at seven years old, he could get lost in numbers. He didn’t realize it, but he had a sort of facial tic that happened when he was counting in his head. His eyebrows would wiggle, ever so slightly, like two undulating caterpillars. When his parents would catch him doing this, they would almost always ask him what he was thinking about and he would almost always say, “nothing.”

It wasn’t so much counting, though, as looking for patterns to help the numbers fit together. He couldn’t have explained it if he tried because…

How do you explain something highly unexplainable, especially when you are seven?

Double sixes had to be a home run.

Over the course of the next few minutes, he started thinking about what each number could be and he assigned a baseball value to each number that could be rolled with two, standard six-sided dice. Here is a list of the rolls:

Snake eyes (double ones) was a triple.

Two + one (a three) was an out (later a ground out to first base).

Three + one (a four) was an out (later a ground out to second base).

Double twos, though, was an error (batter goes to first).

One + four or two + three was as strike out.

One + Five or two + four was a ground out or pop out to shortstop.

Double threes were a walk.

One + six, two + five, or three + four was a flyout.

Two + six, three + five, or double fours was a single. (Double fours could also be a single with a runner on base taking two bases later)

Three + six or four + five was a flyout.

Four + six was a strike out.

Double fives was a double if no home runs had been hit off that pitcher or a home run if double sixes had been rolled already.

Five + six was a double.

The patterns would start to emerge for him.


Numbers came easy to him. Patterns, too, seemed to jump out at him all the time. This made baseball almost intoxicating to him, both in real life and when he played it with his dice. There were so many patterns in the threes and nines and fours and twos and ones.

Sometimes he wasn’t even conscious of the patterns he was tracking in his head as he rolled the dice, but eventually, he would have an almost uncanny sense of what number he would roll next. Even in those early days of figuring out how to make simple dice games, it was as if he knew when the big hit would come or when an inning would be a quick one.

During his first year in little league, playing in what the local organization called the “Farm League,” he loved all the counting involved with the game. Sometimes he would be thinking more about the potential number patterns that might occur rather than trying to win the game.

He played centerfield a lot. If anyone would have been close enough to him, they might have seen his eyebrows dancing a lot during the game. Luckily the red and white baseball cap of his team, the Lions, covered this up.

Eventually he figured out a balance where the game was both physical and cerebral for him but there was a crossover, too. There were times when he would play the dice version of his little league games before the actual games to see if he could predict the eventual outcomes.  

Later in life he would realize that the cerebral part of the game was what made it beautiful for him. The thinking part was what he liked best. You could use your will to make a game to go one way or the other by understanding the patterns and flowing with them. This was true when you were a field or holding a notebook, pencil, and pair of dice.

In a different life, he would have become an amazing craps player, just like Matt Dillon’s character, JC Cullen, in The Big Town, which would later become one his favorite movies during his senior year in high school.


After weeks of playing with his dice, the boy realized these made for something of a realistic baseball game. Sure, there were high scores sometimes, and the double fives rule became something that the Dodgers seemed to get more than other teams, but most games played like a real baseball game. Not too shabby for an eight-year-old.

The best part of the game was that it was hours of entertainment that cost very little. It could be played anywhere, too, and when there was no one to play with, it was always there and ready. This was a lot of the time, too, as the boy was an only child. It wasn’t as if he was neglected or anything, but he was left to his own devices a lot and he was good at entertaining himself.

Set up was easy. Eventually it took him a matter of seconds to draw up a box score template. Sometimes he would even set up games in advance so he could just play for a long time without having to do any of the prep work. He dreamed of getting his box scores printed on a tablet like some of the order forms at his dad’s work that he saw one day. This would save so much time.

He created basketball and football games, too, using dice, but the baseball game was his true love. He even tried to figure out ways to make a realistic soccer and hockey version over the years, but it always came back to the baseball game. There was something about rolling the dice, keeping the box score, and keeping track of the statistics that he loved. Eventually, he had notebooks upon notebooks of dice baseball score pads. Thousands upon thousands of games played.

Eventually, it occurred to him that he could buy a baseball almanac and have access to actual season schedules, rosters, and play an entire season based on the real schedules and players. This would allow him to replay just about any season from the past and have the complete rosters, too. They had one at B. Dalton’s at Park Central mall and if he saved enough of his weekly allowance, he could ask his mom to take him to get it.

Little did he know that video games were right around the corner that could do the same thing and much easier.

When he was eleven, he spent the better part of half a year creating his own baseball season.  It was an interesting experiment, and he was the only one that knew he was doing this. There were 26 teams in major league baseball then, so that meant he played 2,106 regular season games of dice baseball and rolled the dice well over 100, 000 times. He lost track of how many notebooks and pencils he went through.

While reading the Sunday paper before the start of the season, he noticed the Republic printed the whole MLB (Major League Baseball) schedule for the full year. This was very helpful, but by the end of the season, the newspaper clipping was tattered and torn. For several months in 1981, it was his prized possession.

He went all the way through to the world series, and yes, the Dodgers won, but they won the real-world series that year, too, so there was some vindication. Of course, in real life, his favorite player didn’t hit over .380 for the season with 53 home runs, but who is quibbling here? He kept stats for every team and became an early advocate for the designated hitter rule in the National League because of how much it messed things up in those games. There was no substitution in the American League games. In dice baseball, the only one who got tired was the boy.

As he got older and ended up working and finding a social life and such, he played dice baseball less and less. He also never told anyone about it. It was his thing and he liked that it belonged to him in all its variations. Occasionally, he would dust the game off and play a bit or do his variation of recording a single player’s batting statistics for a season or a career.

But then, one day, he got a new idea.


At twenty-seven, the boy was no longer a boy. He was a man. His friends called him “Max” and that wasn’t short for anything. It was his name. Max Herman Jones. Just Max. Not “Big Max”, like the kids at school once called him, or “Mighty Max,” like the kid in that Jim Carrey movie, Liar Liar.  Just plain old Max.

Max Jones had grown up on the westside of Phoenix, Arizona and continued to live there for his entire twenty-seven years. In fact, he lived less than a mile from the home he grew up in, where his parents still lived, and he worked just a little bit farther away than he had moved. By day, Max worked at Friendly Chevrolet, which was owned by a family whose name really was Friend. Can you imagine? Their TV ads were repulsive, but the pay was good, and people left Max alone. His job was in the alarm department, and he was good at it.

He hadn’t planned on this as a career, but it would do for now. This was what he always told people and it was what he told himself. His buddy from junior high, Andy, had gotten him the job there when he was deciding what to do after attending Glendale Community College for a couple of years. He hadn’t wanted to go right into Arizona State University or one of the other state schools, so he figured he would work for a while and figure out what to do next.

That was seven years ago in 1990.

A guy named Lee Wilson was Max’s boss. Lee had liked what he saw in Max from the time they started working together. Initially, Max had been a lot attendant, so his job could literally be doing just about anything on the car lot. When a new car sold, sometimes Max would get paged to go and grab it and take it get gas, get the alarm pulled or programmed, washed, or just bring it to the front. It was on these trips that he got to know Wilson.

Max was taller than Wilson, but Wilson was way more athletic. Both guys loved baseball, though, so it was a constant topic of conversation. Each possessed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the sport from about 1975 on, so they had lots to talk and argue about. Wilson was a Pirates fan, but Max didn’t hold it against him any more than Wilson didn’t hold Max’s Dodger devotion against him.

Over the first couple of years that Max worked at Friendly’s, Wilson started showing him some basic alarm installation and removal techniques. When Johnny “Five Fingers” as Wilson called him finally got caught stealing parts, there was an opening in the alarm department and Max applied for the job with his boss’s blessing. It was really just a formality, but Max got the job.

The only real drawback, in Max’s eyes, was that he wouldn’t have nearly as much freedom in the alarm department as he did when he was working the lot. During downtime, for example, there was all kinds of ways to keep oneself entertained and out of sight. Max liked to read and his favorite thing to read about was sports. Sports autobiographies, biographies, stories about teams and championships. All of it.

He had two favorites. He loved the Joe Gilmartin book about the Phoenix Suns’ Cinderella season in 1975-76, for example, and he loved Ball Four, too, by Jim Bouton. Even though he only had fleeting memories of the Suns/Celtics series, it almost made him feel like he was there when he poured over the book. He spent a lot of time reading it while waiting for a car to be washed or just hiding out in the back lot in a car where no one could see him. Such was the life of a lot attendant.

Truth be told, it was Max’s greatest fantasy to one day see his name on the cover of a great sports book. He had done a little journalism in high school  and even taken a few classes at Glendale Community. People told him he had skills, but he didn’t know what to do with them. It was easier to dream about doing it rather than doing it. He didn’t tell that to anyone, though, only himself.

Occasionally, Max would bust out the dice and play a little dice baseball in the shack on the back lot at Friendly’s. He stashed a notebook out there one day, some pencils, and a set of dice. It killed the time and by this point, he could play a game quite quickly and if anyone was coming, he could see them well before they could see him. To his knowledge, no one ever knew that several world series took place in that shack from 1990 to 1992.

So, when Max moved over to the alarm bay, he wondered if he would be able to do any reading or dicing. A couple of times, during their conversations, Max had wanted to tell Lee Wilson about his game. Mainly, he wanted to share the game because he thought Wilson would not only appreciate it, but he would really like it. To Max, it seemed that another thing he and Wilson had in common was lots of time on their hands. Wilson had a young son by a woman he was no longer involved with, so he had lots of weekend time to kill after his son went to sleep. Max didn’t have any children yet, but he and his girlfriend, Kate, both worked a lot on the weekends, and they didn’t have a busy social life when it came to hanging with friends at a club or seeing a band play.

One time Kate had found one of his notebooks and looked at him with a quizzical expression on her face, but then she just shrugged and said, “You and your sports. I should be so lucky.”


One night in the fall of 1997 when Max was in the alarm bay alone, he thought back to 1981.

Recreating an entire baseball season had been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. So much work, in fact, that it had been the only time he had ever done it. He remembered how his hands would be sore from all the dice rolling, writing, and erasing he did. He wondered what his parents had thought about all of the notebooks he went through.

At first, he had tried to do whatever games were scheduled on a given day, but sometimes that was a lot of games. It was easier to just do as much as he could do so that he could occasionally walk away from it. There were days, Max remembered, where he would have to talk himself into stopping.

Even at 10 and a half, because that’s how old he would have said he was at the time, Max knew he had to listen to that little voice in his head from time to time. It was hard to do, especially when he was on a roll (no pun intended). Sometimes too much of a good thing was not okay, but there were nights in the summer of 1981 when he would stay up very late playing games of dice baseball.

It was a Monday night, so there was not a whole lot to do. People, for whatever reason, did not like to buy a car on Monday. Looking out at the quiet car lot, Max thought about working on a few of the new trucks that had come to the lot earlier that day. He could put the base model alarm in these new S-10’s in less than five minutes. In fact, sometimes he dreamed about doing alarms, so he knew he could do them in his sleep if he ever needed to do so.

Max brushed that thought aside, though, since the trucks wouldn’t even get detailed for at least a day and Larry Rogers, the manager who was over himself, Lee Wilson, and the rest of the crew in the back lot didn’t want alarms to go in before the initial inspection and detailing was done. Seemed like a dumb idea to Max, but it bought him time that night to think back.

He remembered how he would go back and forth on the best way to compile the mounting statistics that needed to be kept for an entire 162 game season of baseball for 26 teams. Some days he would enter the game stats into his log for each team after every game and some days he would wait until the end. That might have been the toughest part of doing a whole season.

Some of the parameters he set for himself made it a bit easier. For example, he learned early on that substitution of the players during the games was a huge time commitment and hard to do realistically, so he made his league follow the designated hitter (DH) rule. This meant that the nine position players, including the DH, would stay the same for the whole game.

The only substitutions he would make were on the pitching side. He decided to leave space in his notebook for five total pitchers each game. This made it easier, too, even in the occasional blow outs that would occur. (The current trend of using a positional player as a pitcher in a blowout would have very much complicated Dice Baseball, but it could have been fun to do on a small scale.)

Max took a somewhat crumpled pack of Marlboro Reds out of the front pocket of his uniform shirt. The Friendly’s shirt looked anything but friendly, in Max’s opinion. It was a combination of black, red, and gray with two patches on the front. One was the Friendly’s logo, which was a patriotic smiley face over the familiar Chevy symbol. The other was his name. Max, it read, in loopy font like this:


He knew he needed to quit the damn cigarettes, but it was hard to do when it seemed like everyone at the dealership smoked. In fact, he hadn’t been a smoker when he started, but over time, he broke down and joined the rest in their slow dissent into lung cancer. Kate played a small role, too, as she was a smoker if she had enough to drink. Max was always intrigued by how she could smoke when she drank, but then not pick one up for days or weeks. He wasn’t so fortunate.

As he shook out the pack to get one of the few smokes left, his thoughts drifted back to his old notebooks. It was amazing how looking at the games brought him back to the moments in time he was rolling the dice and filling them out. He could get a glimpse as to what he was thinking; It was like time travel, in a way.

The other thing, and this thought almost startled him a bit, was that when he was playing a game, in his mind, he could see the game, too. The players were real to him for those minutes and the action of the game was right there. He would have a running commentary in his head going the whole time, like when he would play his epic nerf basketball games in his bedroom when he was in junior high school.

Max had always had a talent for making something out of nothing. Here he was doing it again on a quiet night with nothing to do except let the minutes on the timecard stack up. His game was good. He knew it, but what could he do with it? How could he show it to someone without feeling like he was some weirdo?

Imagination, he thought almost ruefully as he took a long drag on his cigarette, is a powerful thing. It’s probably my favorite drug. He liked that idea a lot.


The Baseball Story: Text


Technically, Max and Kate got to sleep in on Tuesdays. They both had the day off, but the traffic noise made it nearly impossible to sleep much past 7:30 a.m. for Max. Their apartment complex was on a busy street and their bedroom window looked out over the street, so when things got going, Max got up.

It could have been worse, of course, but having Tuesday off was kind of nice. To Max, it seemed like the rest of the world was really getting into the groove of the new week and he got to slow down. Except that he never really slowed down. There was always something to do. Kate was much better at taking it easy on Tuesdays.

With Kate still fast asleep, Max walked down to the 7-11 at the corner to buy a paper. The Arizona Republic was like an old friend, and he read it every day. He would have subscribed, but Kate talked him out of it. She argued that he could read it at work five days a week for free as Friendly’s got a huge stack each day so there would always be enough to go around in the showroom.

After grabbing the paper, Max crossed the street to Einstein’s to grab coffee and a bagel. Kate wouldn’t be up for another couple of hours at the earliest. He had time to have a bagel, read the paper, and drank a few cups of coffee while watching the cars zip by.

Max liked looking at a particular car and imagining where the driver was going and what they would be doing that day. If the light was red and he could see the face of the driver, it was even better. Max never thought of it this way, but it was just another game he played to pass the time. Sometimes he played this game when he was working on an alarm.

Very rarely did he get to meet the person who bought the car, but while he was working on it, he would think about where this car would ‘live’ and where it would go. Max would sometimes share his thoughts on this with Lee and the two of them would have a good laugh. Lee didn’t realize this was something Max did a lot and Max was okay with that.

The big news of the day was about the expansion draft that was going to happen that afternoon. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays would be joining the league in the upcoming season and Max was excited to see how the new rosters were going to shape up.

When it was announced that Phoenix would be home to a new expansion team, Max was excited. He and Lee had many discussions about whether they would become Diamondbacks fans. As lifelong fans of their respective favorite teams, it was hard to imagine rooting for someone else, but as the new team’s inaugural season got closer, it was hard not to be excited about major league baseball games being played in town.

The two co-workers had decided they would get tickets to see their favorite teams when they came to town when tickets went on sale.

As Max ate his bagel and read the paper, his mind drifted back to Kate. He could see her sleeping on her side, one arm tucked up under the pillow and her other arm laying across the top. He loved her but he wasn’t sure about the future. At moments like this, sitting alone in Einstein’s reading the paper, he didn’t know if he really needed anything else.

They had lived together for almost two years. He found himself wondering a lot lately about the future. He knew he needed to make a move but what would it be? He liked his job, but mostly because of Lee and a few other people he worked with that made it easy.

Kate made life easy, too, and he did love her. He liked that she was a hard worker and took care of business. They met in 1992 when Max went to Amy’s birthday party. Amy and Max had been on the Hawks Talk staff at Apollo High School together and had been friends ever since.

Amy Gold and Kate Clemmer had gotten to know each other during their senior year at Arizona State University in a fluff music appreciation course they both took to fulfill a last elective credit. Amy had continued the journalism path and was writing for the State Press at ASU and Kate was finishing up her marketing degree. They joked about how Amy was learning to spread the truth and Kate was learning to spread bullshit and would sometimes introduce themselves in Tempe bars as “Yin” and “Yang.” This got some strange looks, but they loved it.

After graduating, they both had gotten entry level jobs with the Phoenix New Times and their friendship continued to grow. With Amy working as a copy editor and Kate working in sales, the two would often have lunch together. One day, Amy told Kate about an old friend of hers, Max, and said she thought Kate might like him. If Kate was interested, Amy said she would invite him to her birthday party the next weekend.

Kate said, “Why not?” and asked Amy about Max.

That night, Amy called Max to invite him to her birthday party.

“She wanted to know what you were like.”

“What did you tell her?”

Max was very curious what Amy would say next.

“I said you were super cute and funny. A little bit quirky and mysterious, too. Basically that you were a mix of Brandon and Dylan from 90210 and good with your hands.”

“Geez, Ames. I don’t look like either of those guys.”

“Yes, you do. In high school, when your hair was longer, you would have fit right in on that show. You should grow your hair out again.”

Max liked to keep his hair super short. When you were crawling around in a car looking for wires, longer hair was not your friend.

“I can’t believe you told her all that.”

“I should have told her that you were wasting your true talent working at that stupid dealership, but she’ll figure that out on her own. I’m sure it will be the downfall of your relationship.”

Max had laughed when Amy originally said this and heartily. She always could make him laugh. In high school, he’d be stressing about a getting the words just write on one of his stories for the paper and she would know just how to help him relax and get out his own way. Amy was a good friend.

“So, you’re sure she will be there?”

“She’ll be there. You better be, too. See you next Saturday, Maxy.”

Amy never said “Bye” or “Goodbye.” She didn’t believe in it. She just hung up after she said the last thing she wanted to say. It took Max a while to get used to that. Anytime someone did something that didn’t follow a social norm or rule, it shocked him a bit.  

He thought about what Amy had told him about Kate that day, too. She had said that Kate was smart and funny and that they had loads of fun together when they hung out. When Max asked about what she looked like, Amy just said he would have to wait and see, but he would not be disappointed.

“She’s your type,” Amy said, and left it at that.

When they met at Amy’s 24th birthday party, Max knew instantly Amy had been right. Kate was clearly confident, and Max loved that in a woman more than anything else. Her smile hooked him immediately and her dark hair and eyes drew Max like a moth to flame.

It was “like” at first sight for Max and Kate. Love would come later and the two decided to hang out again after talking for an hour or so at the party. Max asked Kate for her number and called her a few days later to see if she wanted to go to a Firebirds game.

The Phoenix Firebirds were the AAA minor league team in town. Max liked to go to the games which were at the old Phoenix Municipal stadium by the zoo. He had great memories of going to San Francisco Giants spring training games there, especially when the Dodgers would come to town on their way back to Los Angeles from Florida and play the Giants. He and his grandfather always went early and Max would go down by the bullpen area and try to get autographs.

One year, Max’s favorite player, Dusty Baker, hit a grand slam homerun to give the Dodgers a big lead and Max thought he might explode. It was only a meaningless spring training game, but Max didn’t care. He thought about that moment any time a grand slam happened when he was rolling his dice. They were just as rare in both arenas.

Max was very pleased when Kate sounded genuinely excited about the game. She even seemed to understand when he said he liked to watch the game from the left field bleachers. These were the closest to Van Buren which ran along the edge of the stadium and across the street from the zoo. They were also closest to where he used to collect autographs. Max liked seeing the kids continue to ask for them even though most of the guys playing in those games would never make the majors.

She later confessed to Max that she was a lot more interested in getting to know him than going to the baseball game but seeing it through his eyes opened her up to what baseball could be. Max had realized early on in that first date that Kate was not a sports fan, but she could talk the talk a little bit. He chalked it up to being in marketing and being able to talk about anything like it was the most interesting thing you had ever seen.

Max had picked up Kate that night and when he dropped her back to the house she shared with a few friends afterwards, she gave him a quick hug as she said goodnight before getting out of his car. Max had breathed a small sigh of relief because he was not sure if she wanted a kiss or not. He never knew what to do in these situations, although he had not been in too many of them.

Kate and Max had dated fairly casually for months. There was a spark there, for sure, but their relationship grew slowly. This suited them both as neither of them were the type of person who needed someone else to make them feel whole.

While Max had been living alone when he met Kate, she had her roommates. They were nice enough, Max thought, but he really didn’t enjoy hanging out at her house too much. He thought it was kind of a mess, but he was way too polite to say anything to Kate about it. She would complain about her friends being slobs sometimes when they talked, so Max left it alone and tried to be supportive when he could.

As their relationship progressed to a more physical level, Kate began spending more and more time at Max’s place. It was a one-bedroom unit in the same complex where they shared a two bedroom now. When they had the discussion about Kate moving in, she had wanted to move closer to downtown Phoenix, but Max was reluctant.

No matter how much Kate sold Max on how great it would be to branch out and live in a different area, Max did not want to do it. Eventually, he told her that he would love to wake up next to her every day, but he just didn’t want to live in a different area of town. One of the things Kate liked about Max was that he was loyal, and she couldn’t really fault him for being loyal to his home.

As a compromise, Max offered to keep paying what he was used to paying for his one bedroom which meant Kate only had to chip in $275 for rent each month and get them a nice bed. Being a practical gal, Kate saw the advantage in this and only somewhat reluctantly gave in on her desire to live closer to work and she loved the idea of having a king-sized bed.

As the two of them adjusted to living together, Max showed Kate more and more of his personality. He was not necessarily a neat freak, but he did keep the apartment clean and orderly. Everything had its place. Kate had a really wonderful desk that she had gotten from her grandmother, Rose, when she started college and they decided to make their second bedroom kind of an office.

While some men would have seen the opportunity make the extra room a catch all for their combined stuff, Max figured out a way for everything to have its place. On one of the first nights after they moved into the two-bedroom, Max spent about three hours getting the spare room dialed in after Kate went to bed. When she woke up the next morning and saw what he had done, she threw her arms around him and said, “Now this is why I fell in love with you.”

He thought that might have been the first time she had said something like that.

They moved Max’s old double bed in there so they could have guests (although this was only on the rarest of occasions) and primarily used the room to house Max’s computer. He liked to mess around with it a bit, play games, and such. Kate didn’t realize that one of the games he played was one of his own design.

The Baseball Story: Text
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