I read this some time before 2009, I believe in a collection of short stories that was much older, but I'm not certain of that.

The setting was "Major League Baseball, California", a town which all of the MLB had moved to to save on airfare and rain games. (Might not have been California.) I think this detail was primarily to mark it as set in the future.

A random prospect with no muscle definition shows up to tryouts, and proves able to catch anything remotely near him in the outfield, and to knock the ball out of the park whenever he can make contact.

He mentions he could find other friends better than he is, including some who can pitch - they show up in the second season.

In the end, their government arrives, punishes the prankster aliens who disguised themselves as humans and used their telekinesis to cheat outrageously, and formal first contact is implied to be proceeding. The viewpoint character, however, is primarily concerned with what the hell they're going to do with the record books, which now have a big * after everything since the team full of alien TK have broken every record in the book. And you can't just drop records, this is baseball!

I believe it must have predated the steroid era, because otherwise the conclusion was too on the nose. Also the airfare thing suggests it was written when the big airlines were in turmoil in the 1980s, but that's less certain.


1 Answer 1


"Who's on First?", a novelette by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., first published in If, August 1958, available at the Internet Archive. You may have read it in one of these compilations.

The story is set in Baseball, California, where the National League plays all its games (the American League plays in Baseball, Arizona):

"Each team had its own city," Ed said, "and its own ball park. Think of the waste that involved. There were always four parks that weren't in use, and more when day and night games were mixed up. Then there was all that traveling expense. Our hotel bill for the season used to look like the national debt, and the train and plane fares weren't any better. It was rough on the players, too, with all that traveling, and getting traded just as they got settled somewhere, or maybe trying to keep up one home during baseball season, and another one between seasons. Putting the entire league in one place solved everything. The climate is wonderful, and we almost never have a game postponed because of bad weather. We have two fields, and they're used twice a day, for two afternoon and two night games. Each club has itw own little community where its personnel lives. Baseball, California, is growing, boy, and lots of players are settling here permanently and buying their own homes. You'll want to, too. It's a wonderful place."

An oddly shaped kid named Zilo shows up to try out for the Pirates:

The kid shuffled in awkwardly. He was not taller than five-feet-five, and he looked just about five-feet-five wide. He was not fat—in fact, there was an unhealthy thinness about his freckled face, and his overly large ears gave his features a whimsical grotesqueness. His was the original square build. He was shaped like a box, and he moved like one. He dragged to a stop in front of Pops' desk, fumbled through four pockets, and came up with a letter.

[. . .]

"Dear Pops," he read. "This here kid Zilo is the most gawdawful ballplayer I ever see on two legs. He is also the luckiest man south of the north pole. Put him out in center with a rocking chair and a bottle of beer and every ball hit to the outfield will drop right in his lap. He'll even catch some of them. Sign him, and you'll win the pennant. Yours, Pete. P.S. He is also lucky with the bat."

Zilo's friends are even better:

The catcher returned, drew Pops aside, and said awesomely, "They got curves that break three feet. They got sliders that do a little loop-the-loop and cross the plate twice. They got fast balls that I'm scared to catch. They got pitches that change speed four times between the mound and the plate. If you're figuring on pitching those guys, you can get yourself another catcher."

The space cops show up in the middle of the World Series to arrest the juvenile delinquents, and Zilo explains to Pops:

"They just pretended to throw, and then they controlled the ball—well, mentally. Any good telekinetic could do it. They could have done it just as well sitting on the bench, or they could help out when one of our other pitchers was pitching. And Smith and Jones are levitators. They could cover the ground real fast, and go up as high as they wanted to. I had a terrible time keeping them from going too high and spoiling everything. When we hit the ball Anderson and White could make it go anywhere they wanted, and they could control balls the other team hit, and nothing could get past Smith and Jones unless we wanted it to. We won the pennant, and I hoped we would win this World Series, but they had to go and drink some of that alcohol, and I guess Jones would have spoiled it even if we hadn't been caught."

From an interstellar police report:

A full report on the activity of these escapees has no doubt reached your desk. The consequences of their offence are so serious they have not yet been fully evaluated. Not only have they forced us into premature contact with a Type 17D civilization for which neither of us is prepared, but our best estimate is that they have destroyed a notable cultural institution of that civilization. They are juveniles, their only motive seems to be that they were enjoying themselves. Nevertheless they are old enough to know better. I favor a maximum penalty.

The game of baseball has been ruined:

Baseball, as students of the game had frequently remarked down through the years, was essentially a game of records and statistics. The records were there for all to see—incredible records, with Jones and Smith tied with a hundred and forty-two home runs and batting in the vicinity of .600, with Anderson and White each hurling two dozen no-hit games, and with the strike outs, and the extra-base hits, and the double plays, and the games won, and the total bases, and the runs batted in, and the runs scored, and the multitudinous individual and team records that the Pirates had marked up during the season, the record book was permanently maimed.

It was not the beginning of the end. It was the end.

  • 1
    Hah. Of course it would be the Pirates..
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 7, 2021 at 11:30
  • Sounds interesting, but the premise completely breaks my suspension of disbelief. Sep 8, 2021 at 1:06

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