All was quiet in Port St. Lucie until, all of a sudden and without warning, Daniel Murphy heard a cry for help. He rushed from his locker, where he was oiling his glove and daydreaming of hitting .300 and an All-Star appearance in front of the home crowd, to find his teammates in stunned surprise, every single one with their mouths wide open.
“What happened?” asked Daniel.
“The bubblegum! It’s gone!” said David Wright.
“A gnome in pinstripes took it and ran out!” said Ike Davis.
“What are we going to do?” said Terry Collins.
“Esto es terrible!” said Johan Santana.
“A gnome in pinstripes?” Daniel Murphy thought. “That sounds like a minion of the Evil Empire!”
Daniel rushed back to his locker and pulled out his gym bag. At the bottom – hidden underneath his workout gear, socks, and other necessary items a Major League Doubles Hitting Machine brings with him to the ballpark – was what he was looking for.
“It’s time,” Daniel said to himself as he pulled out his orange and blue crime fighting suit. “My team needs me.”
In less time than it takes for him to turn on an inside fastball, Daniel Murphy donned his duds and was running through the clubhouse – his cape with the big number 28 flapping behind him in hot pursuit of the bubble gum bandit.
His astonished teammates looked on in amazement.
“Who was that masked man?” said Ruben Tejada.
Daniel quickly spotted the gnome running down the tunnel, carrying a big barrel of bubble gum. “Stop!” he yelled.
The gnome let out a little shriek, the sight of the super hero sent him scurrying faster, scattering pieces of bubblegum all over the floor.
But the gnome didn’t stop. He burst through an exit door and onto a side field, where rookies and prospects were stretching. Daniel Murphy was in hot pursuit.
“Have to get him before he gets to the bullpen. Have to get to him before he gets to the bullpen,” he told himself.
Daniel knew that if the gnome made it to the bullpen, the chase would be over and the bubblegum would be lost forever. Tomato plants were growing in the bullpen, and as we all know, once a gnome gets into a garden, he’s as good as gone.
The gnome knew this too, and was making a beeline down the foul line.
Daniel channeled the teachings of his little league coach. “Run hard to first,” he told himself. And so he did.
The gnome was almost within his reach. “Just… a… few… more… steps…” The gnome could hear Daniel fast approaching and was just a few yards from freedom when he risked a quick glance over his shoulder to see where the masked man was and… CRASH!!!
The gnome ran right into Zack Wheeler, who was doing laps on the warning track. Daniel Murphy pounced on him and picked him up by the scruff of his pinstriped collar.
By now, the rest of the team was beginning to make its way out to the practice field.
“Thank you. Thank you,” David Wright said. “I don’t know how we can repay you.”
“No need for thanks,” Daniel said. “Glad to be of service.”
Before his teammates could get a good look at him, Daniel was gone.
“I don’t know who that was,” said a player with a jersey number in the 80s, “but I’m glad he was here.”
“Me, too,” said another player without a name on the back of his jersey. “Thank you, mister, whoever you are. We can sleep well tonight knowing you are here to protect us.”