If I go to Roswell, New Mexico, I’ll go for the same reason many people go; to see a UFO. I’ll bring a gym bag and a secret. I’ll know the name of the only major league baseball player ever born there.
Marshal Lefty Scott was born on July 15, 1915 and died March 3, 1964 so my chances of finding him or a UFO will be minimal, but I won’t run from ghosts.
He threw 22.1 innings and allowed 29 hits, 12 walks and 11 earned runs. He started two games for the Philadelphia Phillies and lost both of them. And none of that really matters, but what does matter is that he pitched for three and a half weeks; from June 15, 1945 to July 12, 1945 and that was it. He never pitched again.
Two years later, unidentified flying object crashed near Roswell “sometime in June or July, 1947,” almost 2 years to the day Lefty Scott walked off the mound for the last time. We’re talking about engineers with measurements and pressure gauges and yet all they came up with was “sometime in June or July.” The vagueness is delicious.
When I arrive in Roswell, I’ll land downtown on a Greyhound at Virginia and 11th street. I’ll wander past the tourist shops towards a local diner and order me some coffee and toast. The waitress won’t smile. I’ll play the staring contest with a cowboy hat, engage in conversations with strangers and listen to a man who tilts his head when he speaks. “Roswell had nothing to do with it,” he’ll say. “You oughta head out to the Foster Ranch in Corona.”
He’ll give me a lift in what I think is a Dodge Aries, but might be a Plymouth Reliant.
I’ll have a picture of Lefty Scott in my pocket. It’ll be the only picture I have of him. It will decide everything.
No nose. No mouth. No ears. Unidentifiable symbol on his hat. I’ll be wandering Corona fields and the tree branches will take on strange, impossible shapes and melt into clouds to make even stranger shapes.
I’ll see some kids walking across a field. They’ll be carrying a baseball bat. I’ll know it’s a bat because the sun will hit the aluminum and let out a strange and powerful reflection; one I will recognize from my little league days. The distance between the kids and I will vanish very quickly.
Without me saying a damn thing, one of them will ask me if I’m a pitcher. “No, I’m a left fielder,” I’ll say and then I’ll ask the kid if his name happens to be Lefty. He’ll tilt his head and say, “No, but I pitch left handed.”
I won’t stay long in Corona, maybe two or three days. I’ll play baseball with those kids and at night walk up Gallinas Peak alone and look up and down and around. I won’t see a UFO or Lefty Scott, but on the way home, I’ll spend the two day bus ride watching the mountain peaks give way to rolling grassy mounds and when the earth goes flat, I’ll begin planning my next trip to Corona.