Monday, August 19, 2019

Cruelty of the Gods

(A companion piece to "The Error")


The writing has long since faded to an almost secret code. Its words hidden deep beneath decades of time, a hieroglyphics now known to only those who witnessed what these symbols report.

In recent days I informed you of my horror upon learning that my son had voluntarily parted with a sliver of history in the House that Ruth did not build. 

But the truth is that all my family members did not perform such acts of selflessness with every baseball that fell into our laps, or at least landed in a locale close enough to scoop up. There is one that did not get away.

I entered the Stadium this past Thursday evening with soaring hopes. In this season of greatness dominated by unexpected heroes, there had been few if any outright debacles. Toss in the team's voracious appetite for home cooking, and it was surely a recipe for a delicious evening meal of round trippers and loud ovations.

On this night's adventure with me were two people who fit seamlessly into my family's saga of baseball catching lore.

Apart from the errant catch and releases of my son and myself, there had in fact been a third ball captured by immediate kin of mine over the past six decades. At the old Stadium, on a Father's Day more than a half century past, a foul ball rattled off the steel girders holding the roof, or maybe the deck above, aloft. In the succeeding instant, as I vividly recall, the outstretched hand of my dad was admiring its newly owned piece of glory, his face mirroring the joy that shone in the eyes of the three young boys in his care: his favorite (and only) son, my friend Marc, and my cousin Larry, who was, all these years later, seated to my left for this evening's contest.

And now to my right, finishing up a helmet cup of ice cream, was the father of the young girl who had been the recipient of my baseball giveaway largesse almost three decades earlier. 

The coincidence as to my companions, given the proximity to this past week's ball delivery miscue involving my son, struck me as something more than serendipity. Maybe this was karma. We would be witness to a rousing triumph of our boys of this wondrous summer. And, with almost complete certainty the next ball hit would be one with my name on it.

By the time we settled comfortably into our seats, the Bombers had turned into bummers. Merely a half inning in, it read seven for the wrong squad, three home runs having done damage to the seats in the furthest recesses of the park. 

For those who had endured the traffic, who had stood on the long meandering lines to gain entrance into the inner sanctum, who had anticipated hours of fine entertainment as just reward, the game had ended in darkness before the night sky had even descended. And it only got worse after that. If this were a prizefight, the corner would have thrown in the towel by the third. By the fifth, our crew had been subjected to more than ample punishment. And thus, as the promise of this undertaking had fallen into mortal disrepair, we three signaled our retreat to the comfort of our respevtive abodes.

No ball had found me this eve, none even entering my orbit. And with the final tally registering in at 19 to 5, it had been the worst shellacking I had the unhappy task of witnessing for as long as my eye could recall.

For but a bit of solace, the next morning I walked into my living room to stare at the baseball that has long held such a place of prominence in my universe. And there, it was, legible in its words only because it was ingrained in my heart:

 "June 9, 1964, hit by Yogi Berra in his 2000th game as a Yankee."  

Oh, how I treasure that ball.

Only it turns out, as I now decided to  google Yogi Berra's career, he did not play in 1964. And as far as I can determine, his 2000th game was in 1962.  And Father's Day in 1964 was June 21. And it was not even June 9th in '62. WTF???

So you see, not only did the Yankees take a drubbing at the contest I recently attended, not only did magic not fall into my hands, but I was now bewildered by the terrible reality that my most prized possession was, well, what exactly? I frantically searched for an answer but it eluded my grasp, like a ball touching my fingertips then landing in the welcoming arms of another.

Sometimes the baseball gods are particularly cruel.


Anonymous said...

What a tale. Especially love "bombers to bummers".... When did you make this realization about the Yogi ball? Maybe the internet has it all wrong?


Anonymous said...

I was at that horrible game. Left in the 4th. If it makes you feel better, 2 fans threw back the balls onto the field --RE