He could have been like the others and joined some wilderness retreat and learned a new pitch, become a converted reliever and revived or rather, started his career. Others had done it, most recently, Edgar Warrbins. The Boise teenager could barely hit 75 on a radar gun, but when he dropped his arm down to the side, he won a few onlookers. Then Edgar dropped it even further, to the submarine zone and the Indy leagues came calling. It made his pitch swerve and some say rise and then quickly fall, a bit like a drunk struggling to a squat kerplunk to the hard earth. Batters would swing and miss. It was all very unorthodox and highly contagious, but he looked down and then around, at the railroad tracks stretching horizon to horizon. He liked where he was and so he kept to the amateur league course, as a mop up man, throwing ho-hum overhand strikes, inducing fly balls, and eating up innings. He said it was better for his well-being, reminded him of the thankless toil of it all.
It seems stupid now; to call a kid my best friend because he claimed to have a Ted Simmon’s fielder’s glove, but when he finally invited me over to play, I wasn’t disappointed. He did have a Ted Simmon’s fielder’s glove and I did have a new best friend.
His basement was a replica bar like many in Milwaukee; with a Pabst Blue Ribbon bar light, Milwaukee Brewer pennants and posters. But my new best friend also had a collection of Milwaukee Brewer media guides, yearbooks, and even a few bats used by Milwaukee Brewers.
I don’t remember exactly how I felt, but it was something close to a blanket and a crib and returning home after a long day crawling around floors in exile. I had no intention of reading the media guides or year books, but I wanted them in my bedroom like some sort of mobile above my head.
It was the same with baseball cards and the plastic sleeves and binders I slipped cards into, but why? The moldy plastic sheets stuck together and that disgusting sound as the plastic pages turned.
The Gorman Thomas bat I received for my birthday sat in a corner of my bedroom for years. Useless. The concession stands at County Stadium; all those colors and team names; uniforms and hats I drooled over in awe.
Even the condiment stations in the County Stadium concourse to dress up hot dogs; the ketchup and mustard buckets and tubs of sauerkraut looking like play-doh strands…all of it sacred like a fire to stare at but never get too close; a freaking aquarium. I was on the other side.
I don’t remember when the Santa Klaus in my head died, but it was an avalanche and I felt free real fast; free to go after some ousia feeling and I quickly realized how much hard work and discipline and concentration was required to remove those boulders one at a time.
I liberated those cards from those plastic sleeves and returned to the life of piles; to be sorted and unsorted and sorted again into stacks by numbers, last name, birth place, position, and whatever new category came to mind.
I took the Gorman Thomas bat to the closest field and used it during batting practice; let my friends use it and we cracked it during a base hit or a foul ball. It didn’t matter. I didn’t really care. It looked better cracked and felt right knowing we had cracked it.
I went to the ville de LaSalle last night; about 20 minutes from downtown Montreal; watched the Cardinals host Granby; game 38 of the LBEQ season-League Baseball Elite Quebec. Stade Éloi–Viau. There were about 50 people in the stands. I counted. Tickets are 5 bucks; pays the two umpires and chalk and what not I guess.
The hot dogs smelled good and the hats and uniforms were colorful, but only the game really mattered. Frédérick Fauteux pitched a 7 inning complete game for LaSalle. They only play 7 inning games. Fauteux is a southpaw and now 7-1 and looks like any left handed starter with all that slow wind up and grace. He gave up three hits. Final score; LaSalle 8; Granby 0.
There were two homeruns and some great defense by LaSalle. The Granby shortstop had a rough night; three errors, but one spectacular play in the 6th inning, leaping to snare a line drive. I hope the last play stays with him so he slept last night.
The sky was there, air too and bugs, Montreal downtown in the distance. The lights started buzzing in the third inning and reached full blast a few minutes later; turned the field into a drunk haze. It was in that inning that LaSalle scored five runs, but really it wasn’t much better than watching a game on TV.
The only advantage was seeing the Granby centerfielder take that first step as bat hit ball and chase it down. Other than that, it was just another triumph in killing time.
LaSalle is 26-12 and in first place; Uniprix division. The All Star break is almost finished.