A Visit From Mr. October

A short story from baseball's postseason.

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MANAGER OF A TEAM IN THE MLB PLAYOFFS: Fellas, circle up, take a knee. I want to talk with you all for a minute. This is a big step for us as a team. It was a long season. 162 games takes a toll on anyone. You’ve spent a whole year grinding, sweating, weeks on the road, away from your families—

GRIZZLED BUT LOVABLE BENCH COACH: So it hasn’t been all bad!

PLAYERS: [chuckling]

MANAGER: Ahh, Smitty, you old shithead. Anyways, you’ve gutted it out, played through injuries, slumps, losing streaks, rainouts, trips to Oakland, and more, but it’s all worth it.

PLAYERS: [murmured assent]

MANAGER: THE PLAYOFFS.

PLAYERS: [indistinct cheering]

MANAGER: Now, you’re a young team. For many of you, this is your first trip to the postseason. I want you to savor this moment, but I also want you to play like it might never happen again. It’s a challenge unlike anything you’ve faced before. So we’ve brought in someone special to talk to you, someone who can speak to what you’re about to experience.

PLAYERS: [quizzical looks]

MANAGER: Mr. October himself! 

LEFT FIELDER: Wow, Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson?

SHORTSTOP: The five-time World Series winner with the A’s and Yankees?

GUY WHO JUST SNUCK INTO THE CLUBHOUSE: 49 career triples?

SMITTY, THE SHITHEAD: Wow, Skip, that’s pretty great. I didn’t even know you knew Reggie Jac-

MANAGER: And here he is now, folks! Mr. October.

GUY WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT REGGIE JACKSON: Hi, everybody!

ALL: [confused silence]

MANAGER: C’mon, now, don’t be shy, show some love, fellas!

PLAYERS: [confused murmuring]

GUY: Boy, it’s a real pleasure to be here today with you guys, when your manager asked me to come in, I was real excited. I can’t wait to share what I know with you guys!

SHORTSTOP, after a long pause: I’m sorry, but… who the hell are you?

GUY: Hi, name’s Burt October. But this time of year, you can call me [throws smoke bomb] [smoke clears and he’s wearing an orange ringmaster’s suit now] MISTER OCTOBER!

PLAYERS: [coughing at smoke] 

MANAGER: I met this guy at birthday party my kid was at yesterday. He’s a hoot. Ask him a fact about October.

CATCHER: Uh… what’s a fact about October?

MR. OCTOBER: The Anglo-Saxon word for the month was Ƿinterfylleþ!

MANAGER: [slapping thighs, delighted] SEE?

CATCHER: I’m not sure how to pronounce that. Even though he said it out loud and I haven’t seen it in print.

MR. OCTOBER: It’s also National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

MANAGER: [nodding enthusiastically] That affects all of us. Write that down. 

[no one is holding a pencil]

MANAGER: Ooh, watch this! I love this trick!

MR. OCTOBER: [frantically carving a pumpkin]

EVERYONE: [just waiting while he carves it]

MR. OCTOBER: [still carving] hold on a sec. Just a sec. Just a minute. [sweating]

THIRD BASEMAN: Should we come ba-

MANAGER: [giddy] Hold on! Hold on! He’s almost there!

MR. OCTOBER: And just… almost… THERE! [turns pumpkin around for all to see]

PLAYERS: [confused silence] 

MANAGER: WOW. IT’S SO LIFELIKE. 

PLAYERS: [confused silence]

MANAGER: It’s a perfect diorama of the founding of Fresno, California in October 1886!

MR. OCTOBER: [smiling smugly] Eighteen eighty-five

MANAGER: [shaking head, impressed] See? This guy’s the best. 

FIRST BASEMAN: Skip, we, uh—

MR. OCTOBER: LUNCH IS HERE! [gestures to food service carts being wheeled in] Now, you all might think October, it’s time for pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin spice donuts and pumpkin spice so on—

SLUGGING DH: [nodding] I like those lattes. Taste like pie.

MR. OCTOBER: …but it’s also home to National Hagfish Day! Now, this bottom-feeding scavenger, also known as the slime eel, is prized as a delicacy in—

FIRST BASEMAN: I’m sorry, I have to stop you. Listen, we’ve got a big series coming up against a team with a lot more experience and depth than us, and I’m not sure how all this nonsense is supposed to help us win games.

MR. OCTOBER: [holding a slime eel, looking slightly deflated] Well, I—

MANAGER: Now, hold on, hold on just a gosh darn minute here. Listen, this man may be unconventional, but he’s forgotten more about the month of October than the rest of the people in this room combined will ever know. Maybe he’s not talking about baseball, but success is bigger than the game itself. If you want to win a baseball game in October, you need to win the month of October. You’ve got to celebrate Halloween, but also Sweetest Day, and Nevada Day, and, and— [turns for help]

MR. OCTOBER: International Credit Union Day?

PLAYERS: [murmuring approval]

SHORTSTOP: I get a great rate from my credit union.

CLOSER: Mine is in a building that used to be a Pizza Hut. 

MANAGER: See, when you understand everything there is to know about the month, you’re going to feel like no one can beat you. You’re the King of October.

MR. OCTOBER: Just like George III, who took the crown in October of 1760.

MANAGER: There you go.

RIGHT FIELDER, quietly: He slowly went mad and lost many of Britain’s colonies, including the United States.

MANAGER: So, have you all learned something today? Something that’s going to serve you well in this series?

PITCHER: [inspecting slime eel] I’m pretty sure I can use this to cheat.

CLOSER: [standing up, nodding] Yeah! Let’s cheat!

PLAYERS: [cheering] CHEAT! CHEAT! CHEAT!

MR. OCTOBER: My work here is done.

PLAYERS: [still cheering, running through tunnel to field] SLIME! SLIME! SLIME!

SMITTY: So, uh, where do you live?

MR. OCTOBER: Warehouse where they keep the stuff for those pop-up Halloween stores. I sleep in a pirate ship.