Kathryn Schleich


Kathryn Schleich has authored two editions of the book, Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers and Other Images, which evolved from her master’s thesis. The self-published work was a finalist in the 2012 Indie Book Awards. The first edition was used as a textbook in the Religious Studies Program at the University of South Carolina beginning in 2007.

She has over twenty years’ experience as a freelance writer assisting clients in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. From 1998 – 2005 she was the owner of a freelance business, The Last Word, Inc. Schleich has published numerous Internet articles on women in film, collecting antiques, women’s heart health, the environment, and other topics. She continues to hone her skills creating short stories and as a volunteer writer/editor for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Grand Slam


Giving up the baseball tickets as part of the divorce settlement was the hardest thing for her. “I’ve always thought of them as my tickets,” Ted had told her and she thought this assertion was a bold one, given her money had paid for them.

Injuries can brutally impact a sports team, taking them from winners to losers in no time, in the same way injury had forever altered their marriage. Ted had had a detached retina and the surgery was outpatient with no initial complications. Two days later however, he was rushed into emergency surgery to clean out a fast-moving infection, brought about when the anesthesiologist sliced the back of his throat during intubation, turning it into a breeding ground for bacteria.                         After surgery, Ted was placed in a medically induced coma for 72 hours to expedite healing. But from the moment the doctor had brought Ted back into the world, his personality had become almost surly, a 180-degree turn from the loving and sweet-natured person he had once been. Baseball became one of few things they had in common until Ted shut down completely, barely speaking to her. It wasn’t enough to share the sports section anymore.  

At first, Sarah didn’t think the prospect of losing out on baseball would be that difficult. It was, after all, just a game. But when spring training – with its promise of warm weather, salty peanuts, and frosty beer – arrived in February, she couldn’t bring herself to read the baseball updates on the sports page.

Sarah had not always loved baseball.

When Sarah and Ted had started going to ball games, she was willing to learn about a passionate interest of her husband’s to save her marriage. She hadn’t expected to fall in love, first with the team, then with the game itself. A team in a small market, the Minnesota Twins had to compete with the Big Boys of the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and the mighty New York Yankees. Now, she felt cheated that he wanted those tickets for himself, because the Twins had become her team, too.

Instead of dreaming of a star-encrusted summer night at the new ballpark in Minneapolis, Sarah immersed herself in painting all the rooms in the house. She asked her friend, Laura, a professional painter, for help and advice.

“I want to finally paint these blah white walls. But I need help with color.”

“I’ve got a fan-deck, so we can look at lots of colors. Where in the house do you want to start?” Laura asked, pulling the fan-deck from her bag.

Sarah smiled. “I want to paint the lower-level first. See the blue and grey flecks in the carpet? I want to bring those out.”

Laura spread the fan of colors out over the carpet. “Since there’s a chair-rail, we could do something different, maybe two tones of blue, darker on the bottom and lighter on top. Like these two shades.”

“I love it,” Sarah said.

“This is exciting. Painting will make the rooms feel new and fresh.”

            Laura was right, this was exciting. It was her house now and Sarah didn’t have Ted’s dreary opinions on decorating to take into consideration.

Sarah insisted on helping as there was an added benefit - painting allowed her to avoid the sports pages discussing the free agent trade of a side-winder pitcher she particularly liked and the acquisition of a Japanese superstar outfielder. Sarah could rationalize that she was just too busy working on the house to be bothered with sporting news, even if she knew it all.

One day while they painted, Laura brought up the Twins. “Did I tell you Rachel asked me to drive down to spring training with her?”

“I didn’t know you liked baseball,” Sarah said.

“I actually want to learn more about it,” Laura said, climbing down off the ladder. “Didn’t you and Ted have season tickets?”

“Yeah, but he insisted they were his. Rather than fight about them and money, I let him have the Twins tickets.”

Laura frowned. “That’s not right. Maybe this summer you and I can go. I would love to see a game.”

Sarah squirmed and hoped Laura hadn’t noticed. To appease her friend she said, “Okay. Sure, we could do that.”

Her next project was to remodel both bathrooms. Sarah wasn’t doing the work herself, but during the demolition phase she asked the burly contractor if she could take a swing on the sledge-hammer, breaking up the tile floor.

“Mind if I give it a shot? I want to know what it feels like to break something and not feel bad about it.”

“Sure, but you’ll have to put on safety goggles first.”


The contractor placed the large sledge-hammer in her hands. “Be careful not to hit walls,” he said.

She raised the hammer above her head and brought it down to the floor in one fluid movement ending in a crash. It felt good to smash something. For Sarah, she was acknowledging the demise of her marriage. Once the white-on-white bathrooms were completely renovated into soothing sanctuaries of warm browns and cool blues, Sarah considered this the last remnants of Ted disappearing.


As opening day approached, Sarah was relieved that her two favorite Twins players – two local boys making their mark in the big leagues - were healthy. The previous year both had suffered injuries, and Sarah noted a local sports columnist predicted the Twins would end the season in third place, because the team was getting old. Such a proclamation caused Sarah to realize that she wasn’t the only one beginning the season on rocky ground.

Months before, when they had agreed to separate, Ted had initially talked her into a legal separation where they would still be married in the eyes of society and the Catholic Church.

“We can be friends, still go to Twins games together, and who knows? Maybe this will help us reconcile,” he had told her, a gentle smile giving just a glimmer of the Ted she had once known. Sarah had no reason to doubt the healing powers of America’s favorite pastime and found herself a fervent believer that even though Ted had moved out, this was just a pothole on the bumpy road that is marriage.

Then, Sarah discovered Ted was having an affair with a church staff member. As fortune would have it (or misfortune, depending on your point-of-view), Sarah learned this from another member of the church.

She’d had suspicions about Jennifer Duncan. Her husband liked to talk with her, and the two seemed to always have their heads together about something. The long-time parishioner, Mary, told Sarah she’d seen them kissing. In the hall.

“I hate to be the bearer of unwelcome news,” Mary said, nervously twisting her hands. “Ted doesn’t think anyone notices he spends all of his time with Jennifer Duncan. But, I saw them in the foyer on Monday. Kissing. On the lips. I nearly dropped my teeth. He is a deacon for heaven’s sake. This is it for me. I’m finding another church.”

Sarah sighed deeply, sadness infusing her voice. “I always suspected it, especially when he took such an interest in Jennifer’s divorce.”

She recalled confronting Ted about his relationship; how much she had dreaded it. They’d had conversations about Jennifer’s divorce from her husband Joe. Too many she thought. Ted had been insistent Joe was abusive. But Sarah thought it was more than a little odd he was getting so deeply entwined in a co-worker’ personal life. Now, it appeared he was blatantly cheating on her. In a church, for Christ’s sake.

They were just sitting down to one of their favorite meals when she broached the topic of his betrayal. “So, is Jennifer’s divorce final yet?” Sarah passed Ted the pork roast and sauerkraut.

“Uh, no. It’s not,” Ted said. “Why do you ask?”

         Sarah added mashed potatoes to her plate. You have to ask him. She cleared her throat. “So why were you and she kissing in the church foyer last Monday?” She coolly handed him the steaming dish of potatoes.

He stared at her as though she had grown an extra head. “Who told you that?” He angrily plopped mashed potatoes on his plate, bits flying onto the table. “I’ve told you – we’re just friends and she needs someone to talk to. Why can’t you accept that?”

Sarah had tried to mask the biting sarcasm in her voice. “And that someone has to be you.”

After that, the strain between them had become unbearable. Yes, she would be the one who would say, “I can’t live like this. You need to move out.”


In the brief time they had attempted marriage counseling, bringing up Ted’s relationship with Jennifer only made him angry. “You ask too many questions,” Ted answered, the edge of accusation in his voice.

Sarah wasn’t completely surprised. When she inquired about if he’d had another late church meeting, he claimed he’d been working out. “I told you, remember?” he would say. You did not. You’re trying to make me think I’m crazy. These and other thoughts would dance through her head.

In therapy, Ted stuck to his assertion that he and Jennifer were simply good friends. Friendships, he had said, come in all types, and he had always had more women friends than male. But, Sarah remembered another instance of a questionable close friendship with a female co-worker. A similar situation had occurred years before in Illinois, with Ted coming to her shedding tears of contrition, swearing that nothing improper had occurred. “Nancy and I were alone at her house. Bill is on a business trip and we should have gone out. But, absolutely nothing happened.”

Sarah remembered her composed response. “I trust you implicitly. But, I don’t want this happening again.” Apparently, Ted had conveniently forgotten the episode.


Sarah hadn’t stayed in the house when Ted had moved out. It was simply too gut-wrenching. Instead, she’d checked into to a posh downtown Minneapolis hotel that just so happened to look out over the new baseball stadium. At the time, Sarah had thought of this as a good omen that maybe there was still hope for them. During her absence, however, Ted had taken things they hadn’t talked about dividing up and Sarah made a mental note to search the house and see what else was missing, another example of him breaching her trust.

The week of opening day, the local paper devoted a special section to the Twins upcoming season. Sarah had cautiously perused the sports section that focused not only on the Twins, but on Major League Baseball as a whole. Of interest was how the game was changing from one of mighty sluggers and the steroid scandal, to pitching talent able to throw record numbers of no-hitters and the far-more difficult “perfect game.”

Wrapped up in the story of baseball’s evolution, Sarah turned the page without even thinking and came face-to-face with the Twins schedule. She felt actual physical pain and silently folded the paper shut. A schedule laid out the dates and times she was supposed to be with Ted enjoying baseball, but Sarah had been replaced without a second thought. She couldn’t stop visualizing Ted and Jennifer sitting in what had been their seats, oblivious to the wreckage they had caused. 

Those first few weeks of the season were tough for both Sarah and the Twins. The team lost their first three series and Sarah kept thinking about the moment she realized their marriage was over. They only attended four marriage counseling sessions, spread out over months and hardly enough to make real progress. Ted seemed completely detached from the counseling. When the therapist asked to meet with him alone to discuss her concerns about depression, he blew her off. He was adamant he was not depressed.

At home following that last session, Sarah realized Ted was putting forth no effort to make this succeed. “Maybe this is what happens to all marriages,” he had said. “They just sort of die out. I don’t have it in me to make this work.”

This statement made her mad, especially since she knew her family just wanted him out of everyone’s life. For some reason, she kept believing the humiliation of a divorce and publicly acknowledging their marriage had failed outweighed the difficulties of staying together. Sarah took a breath and made her case one last time. “We have incredible lives – we’re financially secure, I’m done with school, you love your job, and it’s baseball season. We should be so lucky.”

Ted stared at her across the oak table. “I swore I’d never say this, but I’ve gotten bored. I keep waiting for marriage counseling to give me a jolt, but nothing happens. I still have feelings for you . . .”

“I’m not a damn puppy, Ted! You were the love of my life and now you’re telling me that you’re bored?”

“I’m sorry, but it was too much pressure.” He couldn’t look her in the eye.

“What was too much pressure?”

“Being the love of your life.”

Too much pressure? You’re trying to make this all my fault, damn it. Most men would kill to be loved that much. “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I never felt as comfortable with anyone else.” Sarah felt the anger starting to surge, and shook her head. “Have you thought through what a separation could mean for your career? You’re a deacon in the Catholic Church.”

Ted kept staring at her but his eyes seemed vacant, as if he were already someplace else. “Yes,” he said finally. “I’ve thought hard about this. There are deacons who are separated, even some who are divorced. I’d have to forgo my deaconate duties until this is settled, but I’d still have my job.”

Sarah looked at the man across from her whom she no longer recognized. “If we’d had kids, would you still be so willing to separate?”

The irritation rose in his voice. “We didn’t, so it’s a moot point. I just think that we’re better off apart.”

That’s taking the easy way out, she thought and forcefully stood up, the chair behind her nearly tipping over. “You know what? If you want to separate, we’ll separate. But, don’t pretend this is all about me. This is about you. And Jennifer.”

No question his comments hurt and they hurt a lot, but something in Sarah had crossed over once she understood what really caused the marriage to irrevocably fracture. She knew she was partially to blame, of course. After all, just as it took two to tango, it also took two people to damage a marriage. This was not her failure alone. He had cheated and very possibly, more than once. Sarah had honored her marriage vows. Hindsight could be a bitter pill to swallow and in looking back, she realized Ted had broken every vow he’d ever taken. 

Once he was physically gone, Sarah’s life changed in big and small ways. Not only had she depended on Ted for emotional support, he did all the mundane chores around the house like change the fire alarm batteries and light bulbs. Now, Sarah would have to figure out how to do such tasks herself.

They were small accomplishments at first, and the successful completion of each task was cause for celebration. Sarah changed her first light bulbs, overcoming her fear of heights. She shopped for floor lamps, read the directions, and put the damned things together herself. Much to the delight of her mother she figured out how the answering machine worked and changed the message from Ted’s voice to her own.

“I just couldn’t stand the sound of Ted’s voice,” her mother had said. “Every time I heard it I just wanted to scream at him and tell him what an ass he is.”

Sarah was growing into a stronger, much more independent woman, and she liked the person she was becoming.


The first half of the season was less than stellar for the Twins. With the divorce still dragging on over Ted’s financial settlement, Sarah forgot about Laura wanting to attend a game, until she brought it up again in late June.

“Hey, when are we going to a Twins game? Summer’s half over!”

Sarah had to think about this. Was she ready to accept the possibly of running into Ted and Jennifer? If she saw them, what exactly would she do? Cry? Scream obscene words in a rage? Crumble in a heap and die?

She was just getting to the point where she could watch the Twins on television, or at least part of a game if they happened to be winning. Still, it could be fun, even if the team was on a major losing streak.

“Give me some dates, and I’ll start looking into tickets,” Sarah said.

On the Internet searching for tickets, Sarah found good seats behind home plate where they would be close enough to almost be a part of the action (if a wayward fly ball zoomed over the protective netting they would have to be following the game to duck for cover).

It took two days, however before she had the guts to hit the “purchase” button. Non-refundable meant there was no turning back so now she would have to go. At the news they had tickets for the Twins vs. the Detroit Tigers game, Laura responded in an enthusiastic e-mail, “This is so exciting! Can’t wait to go.”

There was no guarantee she wouldn’t run into Ted and Jennifer, but the seats Sarah had chosen for she and Laura were several sections away. She had gone to great pains to make Laura’s first official baseball outing a good one, and their seats were much better than the seats Ted had.

All Ted seemed to care about was obtaining more money, and the continued haggling was wearing Sarah out. This had to end, and she made a promise to herself and her lawyer that the proceedings would be wrapped up by the World Series. To take mind off the glacially slow pace of the divorce, she set about buying new official Twins clothing for the game.

Ted had bought her a Twins jersey, but Sarah decided to buy something that reflected more of her personal tastes and gave the old one to the Goodwill for an unsuspecting fan to find. Standing in the sporting goods section of Target debating between T-shirts, Sarah heard a familiar voice. “Sarah! I didn’t know you were a Twins fan.” Mary smiled broadly and the two women embraced.

“I’m a fan, alright – in good times and bad. I’m going to my first post-Ted game, and I need something to wear!”

“It’s my son’s birthday and he wants a Joe Mauer jersey. I haven’t seen you in a while – how are things going with the divorce?”

Sarah shook her head. “We filed a joint petition for dissolution, but money is still a sticking point.”

Mary’s brow furrowed in disgust. “I haven’t found a new church yet, so I see Ted and Jennifer. I’ve noticed that neither of them will make eye contact with me, but they still think no one knows.”

         “Don’t let them drive you from your church,” Sarah said. “You didn’t cause this.”

“I know, but Jennifer always looks so perfect, prancing around like she’s so important, and that makes me ill. If you ever want to talk or just have coffee, let me know,” Mary said and the women made a date for lunch.


Just prior to the All-Star Game in July, their outing was at hand. Sarah was giddy and anxious –excited to see a baseball game in person again but apprehensive as to whom she might encounter. On a gloriously sunny day she rode the train to Target Field. She tried her damnedest not to think about Ted and Jennifer, and walked halfway around the stadium just to avoid passing the section their seats were in.

Instead, she focused on the sights and sounds of the day. Bratwurst sizzled on open grills, popcorn popped, sweet onions and relish tickled her nose, beer foamed in plastic cups. Twins fans attired in jerseys and shorts streamed through the gates and Sarah felt as though she were being carried by the crowd to the seats.

“Hey, Sarah!” If it hadn’t been a woman’s voice she would have froze, unable to move or speak. But here was Laura, her copper hair a mass of wild curls, waving from their seats.

“Wow, these are even better than I thought,” Sarah said, walking down the cement steps while surveying the field.

“What a view! We’ll be able to see every pitch.”

Comfortably settled, Sarah and Laura watched the Twins take batting practice. Local sportswriters talked of the Twin bats “going cold.” They weren’t just losing, but losing big. The team needed to start getting some hits and turn their fortunes around; otherwise this would be one of the worst seasons on record.

         From their vantage point, they easily observed whether a pitch was a ball or a strike and Sarah explained the basics of keeping score.

“What does a K mean again?” Laura asked.

“It’s the sign for a strikeout. A forward K means the batter swung at the ball and got a strikeout. The backward K means the pitch went over the plate, but the batter never swung.”

When the Twins hit a home run, fireworks crackled overhead. “Who-hoo!” Laura shouted over the din of the cheering crowd.

“The fireworks are much more visible at night,” Sarah said and they high-fived one another.

Late in the game, the Twins rallied and suddenly they were tied with the Tigers at six runs apiece. “Just your first game and you’ve seen a home run, a rally, and possibly extra innings.”

“I take it extra innings are like overtime. How long can they go on?”

“In theory, a baseball game could go on forever. That was on the one of the things Ted loved about the baseball – the fact that you never knew when it was going to end.”

The Twins surprised both of them, winning in ten innings. “You’re a good luck charm, Laura,” Sarah said. “A five-game losing streak has officially been broken!”  

The next day checking her e-mail, Sarah found a note from Laura. “Yesterday was great and I am totally up for another game!” 


Around Labor Day, when summer was fading into the golden tint of autumn, the Twins had gone from the worst team in baseball to one of the best. The same sportswriter who had predicted a third-place finish or worse was now talking of a spot in the play-offs. Sarah and Laura had attended three more games, and Sarah noticed that she was no longer gripped by cold and sweaty fear that she would run into Ted and Jennifer.

The divorce had been finalized after nearly a year. Sarah’s family had gotten involved over the money aspect, and Ted seemed to realize the protracted fight was costing him financially. He was still ending up with more than Sarah had ever thought he deserved, but at least they were divorced before the end of the season. She took some satisfaction in knowing that because he was getting divorced, Ted was essentially demoted from deacon to pastoral associate indefinitely. That meant losing the ability to preach, perform marriages, funerals, and baptisms. The Archbishop would make the final decision on whether his deaconate duties would be restored. And Sarah kept on going to Twins games.


At every Twins game, Sarah and Laura engaged in a little ritual. Sarah rode the train to downtown Minneapolis, and weather permitting, Laura walked. They would meet up at Gate 34 and make their way to the Kramarczuk’s stand for a polish sausage, a local delicacy, along with a cold beer before heading to their seats. They were always different and Sarah contemplated that perhaps Laura would be interested in purchasing season tickets for next year.

They finished their sausages, and were headed to the ladies’ room to wash up when they nearly ran into them. Here were Ted and Jennifer, walking hand-in-hand and laughing on this magnificent crisp autumn afternoon. Immediately awkward and uncomfortable, all four were silent.

Sarah faced Ted straight on as the crowd pouring into the stadium walked around the stiff foursome. Every action slowed - a movie playing frame-by-frame. In her head, Ted’s speech became thick and slurred each word deliberate. “I’m surprised to see you here, Sarah,” he said.

Sarah kept her gaze focused on him. She briefly thought about spitting on the both of them, instead a quiet calm embraced her. She smiled. “This is my friend, Laura, and we’ve been coming to Twins games fairly regularly.”

Laura piped up, running a hand through her curls. “Yes, I’ve been learning the finer points of the game from Sarah. She’s a great teacher.”

The expression across Ted’s face was hard for Sarah to judge. Was it hurt? Jealousy? Did he really think she would cut baseball out of her life because he was too greedy to share the tickets? Or worse, that she would stop living her life without him?

Her life was better without him, she realized. In every conceivable way.

“We need to find our seats,” Sarah said, and nodded briskly at Ted. “Nice to see you.”

As they walked swiftly through the teaming corridor, Laura patted Sarah’s arm. “You should be proud of yourself. There was no hostile scene. You were as gracious as could be expected.”

Sarah smiled weakly. “Thanks. I won’t deny it was tough seeing them together.”

Laura pumped her fist in the air enthusiastically. “But we’ve got baseball to watch!”

The game, however, was a rough one for the home team. The Kansas City Royals had led from the start and were up 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. The Twins had a runner on third, but also had two outs. Coming off deck came a player named Johnson, recently brought up from the minors. This hadn’t been a good game for him, having struck out his first three times at bat. Nervous energy raced through the standing crowd.

On the mound, the Royals pitcher fired off a fastball. The ball sailed over home plate and the umpire yelled, “Strike!”

Johnson stepped out of the batter’s box and shook it off.

Returning to the plate Johnson resumed his stance. This time the pitcher released a curve ball.

“Strike two!” cried the ump.

Twins fans groaned in unison.

“I can’t watch!” Sarah shouted over the din.

Johnson rolled his shoulders, tapping his bat on home plate.

The KC pitcher wound-up, releasing another fast ball. Crack! The sound of the bat echoed as the ball flew across the stadium into the shrieking fans.

“We’re going to win!” Laura hollered.

The runner on third sprinted home. Behind him Johnson trotted leisurely around the bases for the winning run. Fireworks illuminated the night sky, as Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy played over the PA system in celebration.  

Sarah’s deflation at seeing Ted turned to jubilation and she hugged her friend. For the first time in longer than she cared to admit, Sarah felt liberated. She was no longer a devoted deacon’s wife putting her own needs second and kowtowing to the male dominance of the Catholic Church. Laura was at her side and Sarah slung an arm over her friend’s shoulder. Baseball and new beginnings – what more could you ask for?

© The Acentos Review 2017