Racine Wisconsin, 1943
Dottie Hinson blinked back tears as she left Racine Field for the last time. It was hard to believe that it was all over; Game Seven of the Women's Baseball League World Series had been played... and her kid sister Kit Keller was a big hero.
She felt almost guilty... feeling happy that Racine had won by a score of 3-2. If she hadn't dropped the ball after Kit ran into her while trying to score at home plate, the Rockford Peaches would be the World Series Champions and Dottie would no doubt be considered a hero.
However, her fame is what caused so much friction between her and Kit in the first place.
But she felt even guiltier leaving Kit behind. The heartfelt talk they shared just moments before in the locker room only enhanced her guilt. She really loved her kid sister and was so proud of her. And now that reality had set in, she was going to miss Kit terribly.
Just as she'd hoped, Bob was waiting for her when she reached the stadium gates, dressed in his uniform. He looked more handsome than she'd ever seen him.
She'd barely been able to say hello when he'd taken her in his arms and kissed her passionately. And shortly thereafter, he began shouting to everyone within hearing distance that his wife was the most beautiful and talented player in the league.
"Bob, what are you doing?" She asked when he kissed her again.
"Just telling everyone what I've known since I first laid eyes on you."
Tears filled her eyes once more and she took her husband's face in her hands and kissed him.
"I love you."
"And I love you, Cutie." He replied.
As she stared into her husband's beautiful eyes, she realized just how much she had missed him.
"Are you ready to go?" He asked.
Dottie glanced around at the few remaining team mates who were lingering in the parking lot.
"Just give me a minute, okay?"
"Of course, Doll."
Dottie went to join her teammates; the women who'd become like sisters to her. Hugging each other tearfully, they said their goodbyes, promising to keep in touch.
"I wish you'd reconsider about coming back next year."
She turned to find her coach, Jimmy Dugan smiling at her.
"Jimmy, you know I can't! Bob and I want to-."
"Yeah, I know. You want to start a family."
"Can you blame me?"
"No, actually I can't." Jimmy sighed.
Dottie put her hand on his arm. "Don't worry, Jimmy. Someone special will come along. You just wait."
He blushed ever so slightly; surprising her. "Thanks, Dottie. Now go on."
Dottie took one last look at her team mates and smiled. "Goodbye! Good luck next year!"
She turned to Bob who took her hand. "Shall we go?"
The simple question made her sigh deeply; torn between beginning her future and hanging onto her past. But when Bob smiled at her, she knew she was making the right decision.
Hand in hand they walked to the car; a little slower than normal considering Bob's injured foot.
She still remembered the shock she felt when she saw him open the door of her hotel room and walk inside; his foot bandaged from being hit by a sniper.
The thought of him being hurt still tore at her heart.
Carefully she helped him into the car. "You okay?" She asked, peering into the passenger seat window when he was safely inside.
"How could I not be, with such a beautiful wife?" he replied.
Dottie felt her cheeks turn warm. "Not don't start getting all mushy on me again."
He smiled mischievously. "You're worth it."
Giving one last wave to her former teammates, Dottie climbed into the diver's seat and drove onto the main road that led out of Racine.
As they reached the highway, she couldn't help glancing at Bob who was resting his head against the back of the passenger seat, grinning at her.
"Sweetheart, why are you looking at me like that?"
"I can't help it." He replied. "You're' the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I can only imagine what those men in the stands must have thought when they saw the beautiful catcher of the Rockford Peaches.
Dottie laughed. "Yeah, I hardly think they were paying attention to me. The other girls are so much younger and prettier."
"Well if they couldn't see how beautiful you are, they're crazy."
"They were all watching Kit anyway. She sure was something today, wasn't she?"
"Yeah. Wow, that was some play! I've never seen anyone steal bases like that before; even in the men's leagues! Your sister Kit is going to be a big star.
I can't even imagine what that must have been like; both of you, face to face in the biggest game of your lives"
Dottie's eyes filled with tears and she quickly looked away. Seconds later she felt Bob's hand in hers. "I'm sorry. That was completely insensitive of me. I didn't mean to upset you."
She smiled at him, blotting the tears from her eyes with the handkerchief that he handed her.
"You didn't. I guess I just realized how much I'm going to miss her."
"It's okay." He said soothingly. "We don't have to do this."
Taken aback by his comment, she slowed the car to a stop on the side of the highway and turned to him.
"What do you mean?"
Bob smiled and brushed a lock of hair from her face.
"I didn't think about what you'd be giving up; your friends, your career... your family."
She touched his cheek with the back of her hand. "Oh Bob..."
"Just say the word and we can turn around. When I was watching you playing on that field today, I've never been prouder."
"You look like you loved what you were doing out there, and I'd hate to see you give that up. Baseball is part of your life."
"You're my life, Bob." She said reassuringly. "Baseball is what kept me going all those months when you were gone. And that day that we were in the locker room and learned that Betty's husband had died in the war..."
A sob escaped, prompting him to move closer to her on the leather seat, taking her in his arms.
Her head resting against his chest, she laced her fingers through his. "I-I thought I'd never see you again." She said in a trembling voice. When she began to cry, he pulled her toward him and held her close.
"I'm not going anywhere. My only plan is to hold you like this for the rest of our lives."
She raised her head and smiled before kissing him deeply.
"Well... We should get going. It's a long drive to Willamette."
"Are you sure about this?" Bob asked quietly.
She kissed him again. "You're my past, my present and my future and I love you deeply. I don't need anything else."
Bob smiled and kissed her hand. "Okay, then. Let's go home and start working on that family.
Dottie started the engine and pulled onto the highway... beginning her life with Bob anew.