The Monarchs began one of the biggest turn-arounds in their history. The existing players seemed to get the message and Meyers, Tavy, and I were playing as well as we were in Madison. We never missed a beat. By months end I was six and one and was batting .325 with five homers. Jack Meyers was five and one, and Jon Tavy had hit nine homers for the month and named the League Player of the Month. He added twenty-four runs batted in. Collectively, we seemed to raise the level of play for everyone. There was a renewed sense of not wanting to let your teammates down.
The Orioles, in the mean time, had gone on two losing streaks of their own, one of five games, and one of seven games. We had moved within two games with over a month left to go in the regular season. The town and the media had gotten off George’s case, for a while.
The Madison Monarchs were doing just as well. Buck was enjoying managing again and it was like nothing had changed with the team. It made me, Jack, and Jon feel better about our own success. We still had strong affections for our ex teammates.
Gloria, Gus and Mary were coming up for the weekend series with the Red Sox. Gus had gotten someone to fill in for their weekend series. He and Mary needed to get away. The last month had been tough, but they got through it. It was time, they knew, to get on with their lives. Maybe this weekend in New York could be a new beginning. They drove down and parked at my apartment. I had a limo take them to the stadium. Chris Tavy had already moved down here to be with Jon. Everything was going well for them, too.
I met Gloria, Gus, and Mary in the huge visitors' lounge adjacent to the locker room. I gave her the biggest hug of my life, or hers. I had missed her so much. I gave Mary a big hug as well and warmly shook Gus' hand.
"I'm so glad you all could come down," I began. "I missed you all so much."
Gloria was just beaming. "You think YOU missed US," she added? "I got news for you sailor," she added. Everyone started laughing.
"Listen," I said. "I've got to get ready for the game today. It is Jack's turn to pitch. We'll go out for a nice dinner to night."
"Sounds great," said Mary. "Should we meet you back here after the game?"
"That's fine," I replied. "See you then." I reached for Gloria and gave her a warm, passionate kiss. "I'll see YOU later, too," I added with a big smile. She returned it, as well.
Jack pitched a four-hitter for seven innings and the Monarch relievers closed out the game with six strikeouts, and no runs to complete the shutout of the Red Sox.
Both Jon and I hit two-run homers, mine came in the first inning with Moss aboard. Jon hit his in the fourth inning with me on with my second hit, a double into the gap in left center. Rubin Santos hit a three-run homer in the seventh for insurance. We just kept on rolling.
I met my new family as planned and a limo quickly sped us down to Mickey Mantle's Restaurant. It was easy for players to get in, reservations or not. I made them. I was not looking for any special treatment.
We took our seats and I ordered a nice bottle of wine for all of us to share. We sat talking about the game and how all three of us Madison players had brought so much to the team. It was something out of a dream they all thought.
I reached into my pocket and took out a small navy blue hinged box. I sat it by my plate. I was growing nervous. Mary spotted the box and quickly asked Gus to escort her to the ladies room so she wouldn't get lost. Gus didn't understand, but went anyway.
"Gloria," I began, "you know I've grown very fond of you. You are a very remarkable woman. You've been through a lot in your short life. And when I think about all that has transpired, I know that I am truly in love with you. I would love for you to me wife, if you'll have me?"
I opened the small box that had a huge diamond engagement ring inside. I took it out of the box and held it in my left hand. I reached for her left hand with my right.
"Gloria," I said as lovingly as I could, “Will you marry me?"
Gloria sat stunned for a moment. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was the words she had hope to hear for months.
"Oh, Bill, You know I will," she replied. "I love you so much." Her eyes welled up with tears as she leaned across the table to kiss him. She sweetly and gently touched the side of his cheek.
I slipped the beautiful ring on her finger. It fit perfectly.
"How did you do that," she asked?
"Got one of your rings from your Mom and had it sized," I said. "You're Mom has known for two weeks. She is really good at keeping secrets."
"She sure is," said Gloria. "I guess I didn't know how good, myself."
Gus and Mary made their way back to the table. They could sense some good news was about to be announced.
"Gus and Mary," I beamed, “this beautiful, young woman has agreed to become Mrs. Billy Alan." Both Gloria and I were smiling like Cheshire Cats.
"Oh," said Mary, "that is wonderful news. We always hoped this day would come. We love you both so very much." Mary leaned over and gave Gloria a kiss on the cheek.
"Congratulation," said Gus, giving me a pat on the shoulder.
"I know it's soon, but have you thought about a wedding date," asked Mary?
"When ever Gloria wants," I said. "I'll leave that up to her. I just plan to be there."
"We can talk about that the rest of this weekend, if that's O.K. with everyone," said Gloria. "I’ve got to call Mom tonight as well."
The waiter came by the table and asked if we were ready to order. He also asked for a favor.
"Mr. Alan," he asked sheepishly, "could I get your autograph for my son? He is a big fan of yours."
"Sure, what's his name," I ask?
"Martin," replied the waiter.
The waiter placed a clean piece of paper in front of me and handed me his pen. I began writing.
"Keep you eye on the ball and your mind in school," I wrote. "Best wishes, Bill Alan."
"Thanks,” said the waiter.
"Any time," I replied. "Come on everyone, let's eat."