- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"How we gonna get it on the plane today?"
"We? I'm not going anywhere."
"You wouldn't cope in Limpopo, Patty. It's a two-hour walk to collect the donkeys and cows. You can't walk that far. There are pythons there. Cobras, Patty." He drapes both hands over Pat's shoulders and jabbers at him in Sotho.
Pat smacks him in the gut. "You can clean the clubhouse toilets," he suggests.
"I left home so I wouldn't have to clean clubhouse toilets," says Gift. He drifts into Pat's office and stares at the number 9 jersey framed above Pat's chair, a gift from Bill Mazeroski, the one Pirate whom Gift has to get straight, the guy who grew up a few miles from Pat in Steubenville, the one who goes out with Pat for steaks and beers when he visits Bradenton, the legend who beat the Yankees in 1960 with the only ninth-inning, Game 7--winning home run in World Series history.
Gift's eyes light up as he hears the tale. He grabs a black bat perched against Pat's office wall. "Pirates have the bases loaded!" he announces. "One down in the ninth inning of the World Series! Gift coming to bat!"
"That's a little fast," says Pat, "considering you're still in diapers."
Gift ignores him. Gift swings. "Bang! It's out of here! Gift wins it! Pirates win the World Series! Again! Two thousand twelve!"
He takes two slow-motion steps and touches a spot on the wall: first base. He taps the corner of Pat's desk: second. He heads for the chair—third—eyes sparkling, eyes searching.... Who knows what might be home?