Case #1.11: "Low and Away"

Judging by the title, I'd say this episode has something to do with baseball. And I'm right! A kid who plays for a team called the Tigers is on the mound practicing. 

Sidebar: I remember wanting to be a pitcher when I played youth softball. I spent weeks perfecting my delivery, modeled after my favorite Braves pitcher Kevin Millwood. Then my dad took me to a pitching clinic and they told me I had to throw underhand. I decided to play the field since I wasn't built to catch.

Anyway, the Tigers pitcher is an absolute natural; the batter he's pitching against can't even get close to the ball. 

Off to the side, the coaches are discussing the new walk-on catcher. They're both curious to know if he's got what it takes to play in the season opener, which is 2 days away. One coach calls out to Fisher the catcher and tells him to grab a bat. The catcher stands up, turns, and takes his mask off, revealing Doug's face. He's a transfer from guess where? Jefferson High! Cap'n Rufus is getting sloppy with these cover stories...

Doug squares off at the plate against the pitcher who's been striking everyone out. He clobbers every pitch, even bouncing one off the scoreboard. When the coaches are satisfied, he tucks a hand in his sweatshirt pocket and smiles to himself.

Back at the Chapel, Doug is in good spirits because it's spring and he's playing baseball again. He tries to sweet-talk Judy, but she brushes him off. The feds are looking for Doug and he needs to double-time it to Fuller's office.

Doug starts to brag about his performance at batting practice. Judy is unimpressed since he was hitting against high school pitching. "I need this from a Cubs fan?" he asks. Judy counters with, "The most loyal fans of all." This sounds almost word-for-word like the arguments I used to have with one of my exes.

Anyway, since this was the '80s and sexual harassment in the workplace wasn't as frowned upon, Doug takes the opportunity to playfully slap Judy's butt. He leads her into Cap'n Rufus's office with his hands on her hips. There, they meet the glare of Phillips, a fed in a dark suit.

Phillips has requested the unit's help with protecting Johnny Hartman, the Lincoln High Tigers' star pitcher, who's currently a kidnap target. The reason is on a need-to-know basis and they apparently don't need to know. Any attempt made on Johnny will be within the next 72 hours. Judy will be put in Johnny's classes since Doug already made the baseball team.

In the Hartman kitchen, Mrs. Hartman tells Johnny that his dad called. He wants to look over scholarship offers with Johnny and come to the game on Thursday. Johnny is not at all happy about this prospect.

At school, Judy learns that Johnny is also a good student. She impresses him in the hallway by rattling off his stats from last season. He doesn't even question how she knows since his last high school was out of state.

The Tigers end their practice by doing windsprints. Doug keeps rubbing at his side and is having a little trouble catching his breath. Coach Wilson lets Doug know he'll be starting in the season opener. So will Jake Whitaker, a fellow transfer. Johnny saunters over to Judy, who's been watching practice from the fence, and asks her to dinner.

In the locker room, a player named Hennessey screams at Doug that he's sick of transfer students coming in and making the team. He tries to punch Doug in the jaw but ends up slamming his fist into a locker instead. Whitaker just about throws Hennessey across the locker room. Coach Wilson catches the tail end of the fight.

Over dessert with Judy, Johnny tells her two things: He knows she's a cop and she knows the reason she's with him has something to do with his father. Cops surround Johnny's house when he gets home because Whitaker broke in. The shortstop explains he was just trying to return Johnny's mitt, which Johnny knows he put in his locker. Strange indeed.

The next day, Fuller wants to know more about Whitaker. All they have is that he transferred into Lincoln High from a school in New York City last week. Tom and Harry are assigned to look further into Whitaker's background. 

At the game, there are tons of spectators lining the fences. Many of them are waving posters. Baseball was nowhere close to that big of a deal at my high school; the only people who went to the games were players' parents, siblings, and girlfriends. Doug's first at-bat doesn't go well at all; he strikes out. Johnny's concentration is blown by the sudden appearance of his father in the stands and he walks the next batter.

Meanwhile, Tom goes into the main office with fake blood all over his arm. The secretary agrees to unlock the nurse's office for him since everyone else is at the game. Once they're gone, Harry opens a file cabinet and takes out Jake Whitaker's folder.

Back on the baseball field, it's the top of the 7th and final inning. What happened to 9? Oh well. Doug's the last batter for Lincoln High and has a chance to make a game-winning play. He lands a solid hit that sends the outfielders scrambling. The runner on base comes in to score.

 a postgame party in the Lincoln cafeteria, complete with decorations and a DJ. I've never heard of that being done, not even for football. Johnny introduces Judy to his dad. Whitaker and his mom come over. Johnny gets very evasive when Mrs. Whitaker asks where Johnny's originally from.

Mr. Hartman goes to talk to Coach Wilson. He wants Johnny to play at least 2 years of college baseball before going to the minors. Mr. H also asks the coach to take care of Johnny's baseball career should anything happen to him.

Tom and Harry have learned there's no record of a Jake Whitaker being enrolled at the school that Whitaker supposedly transferred from. The feds send Harry and Tom to his place armed with a search warrant. The house is furnished and decorated sparsely. Whitaker tries to shoot them but misses. He says he's a cop too.

Back at the Chapel, Detective Danny Jacobson of the NYPD (alias Jake Whitaker) starts explaining things. He paid off the woman he brought to the game to pose as his mother; she showed the school her electric bill in order to get him enrolled.

Frank Hartman, it transpires, is really Carmine Terranova. Johnny Hartman is actually Carmine's son Chris. Carmine is in witness protection and due to fly back to New York to testify against a mob boss named Lucasi. Carmine witnessed the murder of Jacobson's partner. Jacobson's been tipped off that Lucasi enforcers are in town to keep Carmine from getting back to New York.

Cap'n Rufus tells Judy and Doug to stay with Johnny/Chris while Tom and Jacobson look for the hitmen. 

In a bar, Jacobson roughs up a random patron and threatens him with a knife in an attempt to locate Lucasi's men. Tom tries to stop him. Next stop is a hotel, where Jacobson shoves the desk clerk's head into a fish tank. The clerk tells him where the gangsters are staying, but they aren't in the room when the cops go upstairs.

Judy tells Johnny/Chris that she knows who he really is.

Jacobson sits in the Chapel griping about the quality of the pizza that's been ordered: "If it ain't New York, it ain't nowhere." "Except when it comes to football," Doug points out, "then it's Jersey." Of course, East Rutherford would be mentioned in a mob episode, given its dubious link to Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance.

Phillips shows up to tell them Mr. Hartman/Carmine wants to see his son before he has to leave town. Cap'n Rufus asks Doug to pick him up; he's eating with Judy at a restaurant called Sharky's. Jacobson tags along.

At Sharky's, Jacobson calls someone and tells them where the safehouse is. The person on the other end says Mr. Lucasi appreciates his help. 

Harry comes into Fuller's office. He's found out that the woman who posed as "Whitaker's" mom is also the widow of Jacobson's dead partner. Tom and Harry go to her house. The widow reveals that Hartman/Carmine wasn't a witness to her husband's murder; he was the one who pulled the trigger.

Cap'n Rufus and Phillips find two hitmen in a car outside the safehouse. Jacobson sneaks out from behind another car and swipes a shotgun from a nearby police cruiser. He tries to shoot Tom and Harry but misses again. Next, Jacobson steals the police car. Tom shoots out a front tire. The stolen cruiser hits a parked car at such an angle that the police car becomes airborne and flips over.

Back to the Lincoln High baseball field, Johnny/Chris tells Judy he has to move again now. Coach Wilson introduces Doug to a college scout. Doug admits that he's already graduated high school and is a cop. The scout shrugs and says he's still interested. Doug chuckles and a grin spreads across his face.

End of episode.

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