Curtain opens on the interior of a rustic cabin. There are deer heads and trophy fish on the walls, large hoagies on TV trays, and a gaggle of men of all ages and races arranged around a big-screen TV, eating and drinking beer and laughing loudly.
There's a knock at the door. An older man in a faded Cubs hat gets up and opens it, revealing a young, puzzled-looking man standing on the front porch.
Am I in the right place?
Hey, everybody, look! It's Antonio Perez! You got the invite! C'mon in, kid!
Yeah. Man, that was some creepy Edgar Allen Poe shit. I mean, the vellum and it was sealed with blue and orange…I dunno, I almost didn't come. And what's with the '30' stamped into the wax?
Tony, have a beer. We'll explain. I'm Jimmy. Been coming here since they opened the place in the winter of '71. Me and Ernie and Vic over there, we been here just about forever.
Nice job, kid. Lemme tell ya, we thought Pedro was about to shut this place down. Gettin' kind of nervous in here, you wanna know the truth. But then Quallsie here stood up on the couch, must've been about the seventh, and started shouting, “What's wrong with you guys? Don't you know how this works? It's always the guy you never heard of! This Perez kid, he's a guarantee! A goshdarn guarantee! Just like me!” And ol' J.Q., he was right.
ANTONIO PEREZ (stunned)
Aren't you…aren't you Ernie Banks?
Nice to meet you. Beat Gary Gentry in the 8th at Wrigley, May 1970.
I never heard of Gary Gentry.
That's because of Ernie. Me, I faced Seaver. I was gonna be the 26th out, July 1969. Clean single in the 9th. Oh, was he disappointed. Hell, I made his wife cry.
That's when Seaver pitched for the Mets, right?
That's right. He was gonna throw a perfect game, but I took care of that. Just like you took care of Pedro today. Just like everybody in this room took care of a Met no-hitter in the late innings. Ah, Tom Terrific. Vic Davalillo over there, got him in the seventh back in '71. Leron Lee's in the can, but he got Seaver in the ninth, Independence Day '72.
David Cone was mine. 8th inning double.
Hey, isn't that Wade Boggs?
Hey kid. Two-out double against Rick Reed in the seventh, June 1998.
What were you then, a Devil Ray? Man, I had to be a Devil Ray last year. That shouldn't even count.
It counts, kid. You could look it up.
You know the hilarious thing? I got Reed 11 days later. One out in the seventh. Oh man, did he ever look pissed!
ERNIE BANKS (cackling)
Let's play two!
Wait a minute — I know that dude. I've played against him.
Kit Pellow, how the hell are you? Kept Met fans from ever taking a liking to Tom Glavine.
Hey. Sorry, man, I didn't know your name.
That's all right, dude — they know my name in New York!
Much laughter all around.
You may not do anything else in your career, kid, but they'll always know your name in New York. Just like they know mine, and Leron's, and Kit's, and those of all these other guys back here you ain't met yet. Now go out to the cooler in back and get us some more beers, huh?
Perez looks reluctant.
It's the rules. You're the new guy.
Don't sweat, man. I only had to do it for like two months.
Oh yeah? Whose no-hitter did you spoil?
Pedro's! High-five, man!
ERNIE BANKS (cackling again)
Let's play two! Beautiful day for a ballgame!
So all you guys get to hang out here because you broke up a no-hit bid for a Met pitcher? That's incredible. But how come nobody's chased you out of here yet? I mean, the Mets had Seaver, Cone, Gooden, Saberhagen, all these great pitchers over the years. Who cares about what we did, with all the no-hitters they must have thrown?
The men double over with laughter, hoagie parts and spittle flying. Some of them are laughing so hard they're having trouble breathing.
Oh, kid, you're priceless. You really are. That's the thing — they never have! Never! That's the whole point! They get close, and then some no name — some Jimmy Qualls or Chris Burke or Kit Pellow or Vic Davalillo or Antonio Perez or Wade Boggs –
Hey! Knock that shit off, Qualls. Some of us are in Cooperstown, y'know?
Get off your friggin' high police horse, Chicken Man, I was just kidding. Anyway, kid, anytime some Met pitcher gets within spitting distance, some nobody comes along and restores order. There's never been a Met no-hitter. Never. Not in…how many games is it now, guys?
The men look at the floor and the ceiling, clearly uncomfortable. Much muttering and shrugging.
Well, we're not quite sure, but let's just say it's a lot, kid. There's never been a Met no-hitter. And there never will be. Not until our spiritual leader gets over being pissed at the New York Mets and lifts his curse.
There's a knock at the door.
Here he is now.
The door opens and a rangy older man walks in.
RANGY OLDER MAN
Hey, how y'all doin'?
Wow, isn't that…
RANGY OLDER MAN
Nolan Ryan, pleased to meet you. You get any grub yet? Plenty of cold beer out back. Just dropped by to welcome you aboard.
So this is all your doing?
Son, you get traded for Jim Fregosi and see if you ain't madder than an armadillo that done walked across a mile of asphalt into a purse factory. First them sumbitches made me soak my fingers in pickle brine, then they trade me for a washed-up shortstop with a bad foot. And they throw in three other guys to make the deal even or something. Would you forgive that?
I guess not.
You guess not. Anyhow, thanks for your work. I'd like to stay and set a bit, fellas, but I've got to go scout the Nats. This Seo fella's gone down to Tidewater and found all these pitches all of a sudden, and he's making me nervous. So I'd best find us a nobody. Whaddya think? Brian Schneider? Jamey Carroll?
I dunno, Express, I've heard of those guys.
Can I see that roster? Hmm…who the hell is Brandon Watson?
Gentlemen, we have a winner!
Much laughter as curtain closes.