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A Day in the Life of Domonic Brownesivich

In a gulag in the taiga far north of Philadelphia, Domonic Brownesivich struggles to survive.

Resting before heading to the taiga.
Resting before heading to the taiga.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Below is a fragmentary writing I located at Coca-Cola Stadium in Allentown, wedged behind a urinal and the wall. It was a crude notebook of sorts, with many papers sewn together with leftover glove lacing. The writing was scrawled on the back of baseball score sheets, programs, and a partial New Testament [1] and written in many different colors of ink and pencil and other materials, possibly eyeblack.

[...]

The speakers blared walk-up music as Dominic Brown approached the plate as always. Time to get up to the plate. The noise was muffled by the crowd in the stands and the cries of vendors of ice cold beer. The pitcher had two fingers on the ball, spinning it in his glove. The music soon died away.

The jangling by the pitcher stopped. Outside the playing field, it was still as dark as when Brown had gotten up in the morning to go work out - pitch-black, except for the lights above the stadium illuminating the field, two in the power alleys and two mounted above the bleachers along the first and third base sides of the field.  For some reason, the pitcher was slow working through the signs with the catcher, and he couldn't hear the usual heckling from behind him from the fans behind the first base dugout.

Brown thought back to the morning.

Brown never overslept. He was always up at dawn or earlier.That way he had time to himself before workouts at the stadium - time to work on his game his way. He could watch film. Hit off a tee. Prep his new bat. Oil his glove. Get a good breakfast.

Brown never forgot what his old teammate Raul Ibanez had told him. An old, grizzled veteran, fifteen years in by 2010. One day around the outfield, shagging balls during an August call-up, he told the young rookie "It's an unwritten rule here, man. Know who won't make it? The guy who has all the talent in the world, but who just won't work."

He was stretching it a bit there -- guys with talent stuck around a long time -- sometimes too long, on the chance that they might pay off someday.

Brown always worked. He never forgot. Hadn't felt right since that hamate injury and the tweaks to his swing. He hadn't really been hot again ever since that May a few years ago. In his sleep, he kept dreaming he was hitting bombs at will, and they just kept coming. Kept hoping morning would never come.

But it arrived on time.

He had some home of getting his stroke back with AAAA retreads on the hill and pitchers sent back down to work on command.

Brown still didn't get hot. Nothing got hot in the taiga.

Brown sat in his bed some mornings, with his blankets and pillow over his head, and both feet squeezed into his pink bunny slippers. He couldn't see anything, but he heard his laptop autoplaying youtube clips of a recent Phillies win - Odubel Herrera with a 400+ foot blast. Maikel Franco with yet another. He heard the trash pickers outside his apartment, pushing grocery carts down the street and picking out the aluminum cans. Maybe he'd get some time in at the cages, raking ball after ball, but first he had to get out of bed and go face the day.

He did that every day, but today was different, Brown remembered. A fateful day for The Lehigh Iron Pigs - a game against Indianapolis to wrap up the weekend series.   Maybe a chance to salvage at least one game of the three game series. He'd had one hit in 8 plate appearances over the weekend - a double - against Indy's staff. Much more of that, and he wasn't sure what he'd end up doing. Maybe working construction with his cousin, digging holes, knocking in fence posts, and stringing livestock fence.

He could count on another game without so much as a warm feeling from the fans in Allentown. Hoping for a display of the power and promise that they all thrilled to a couple of years ago throughout the Lehigh and Delaware valleys, all the fans were grumbling in typical fashion. His only hope was to plug, plug, plug for all he was worth to somehow come through this.

[...]

Additional fragments await recovery and restoration.

[1] See the original text and the movie version.