there was Fenway Park. Just about everyone talked about its left field home run wall, the green monster. it was One Shot McGoo who turned left and not right, led the boys away from Fenway Park, to the Wigwam, home of the Boston Braves. it was 1947. it was two years after the war. Warren Spahn was back. One Shot McGoo didn’t need to convince anyone after that game, a 9-0 win for the Braves, a Spahn complete game shutout. Tommy Holmes went 5 for 5. Earl Torgeson hit a triple and drove in two runs.
the Wigwam gang was born. No one ever mentioned the Red Sox again.
and as the days and games passed, the boys began to wonder about wigwams and braves and what the words meant and so they snuck away to the library and found out about wigwams being domed dwellings and Braves meaning a lot, from Chippewa to Passamaquoddy to Iroquois Confederacy and maybe most importantly, in a practical sort of way, the beauty of a canoe, the way one is built. They loitered that same day in the alley beside Penticelli’s fish market and when the time was right, they swiped a few pickle buckets and with some ply wood slabs nailed to the buckets, they rigged up a raft and spent that summer paddling in no particular direction.
The Braves relocated to Milwaukee and eventually Atlanta. Boston became a one team city, but the wigwam gang still refused to root for the Red Sox. A few members of the gang had children and there was no scientific evidence that their love for the Braves seeped into their genes, some new DNA rebel strand passed on from generation to generation, but in the 1970’s, an invisible force guided the children of the Wigwam gang. They turned left, not right too and smoked lucky strikes beside the reformatory and a few years later, drifted into all you can drink coffee diners and at night, drank Schaefer beer from bottles at old man dive bars.
The sons of the Wigwam gang stuck together and most of them found their way, for better or worse.
The son of One Shot McGoo, birth name Tristan, mandala tattoo on his pitching arm, slipped across slimy rocks and swam into the rapids, head out of the water, a joint dangling from the side of his mouth. He jumped up on bar rails, ripped his shirt off and sang as cigarette smoke danced its way up to the x-shaped revolving fan hanging from the ceiling. he swore he’d jump off the Chuckskins bridge the night of high school graduation and he did and drowned and died.
Mitchel Doogans waxed on and on about the hydroelectric potential in waterfalls and the physics of a pitched baseball. Never did earn a university degree. Learned it all in the pubic library on his days off from the plastics factory.
Issac Bendrhymer set up a yurt, grew his own produce and petitioned the city council for the right to have cows and chickens in the back yard of the apartment complex where he lived.
Two Tones Trype was the only son of the wigwam gang who had no way, no idea what to do. he wondered about his father, still on the semi-pro baseball circuit and its million dreams. Two Tones delivered newspapers. Washed dishes at a pizza joint. Sat alone, at the end of a rail and never caught the fever of camaraderie, every social encounter a crucible, to survive.
But then came 1976 and the announcement that a baseball team was coming to Toronto, in another country, but closer than Seattle, the other expansion team…nothing a penpal connection couldn’t solve. And so Two Tones sent a letter to Baseball Digest, to the Fans speak out section, included his mailing address in the hopes he might exchange a few letters and if he was really lucky receive a fold up Blue Jays schedules that could easily fit into his wallet.
There were no replies, but there was still Toronto and the Lake Ontario it hugged and how it connected to other Great lakes, all that fresh water and merging with the St. Lawrence River and Montreal and further east, the wide open, massive Atlantic Ocean and what about Jays, the birds, where did they go in winter and were there hunters and gatherers in the region? native tribes and….
Two Tones bought his first pack of baseball cards and wondered about the printing press that made the cards and then he thought about the history of ink…..old ink from feathers and carriages and horses and rolling hills and mountains and sheep and who would be the first player the Jays drafted in the expansion draft and it turned out to be Bob Bailor and that rhymed with sailor and that was water and Two Tones remembered his father telling him about the raft he and the Wigwam gang built and Two Tones suddenly had a road; a polymania, a mad craving for everything in the universe.