Well said Joe Bean theys one thing about cadding for these dames, it keeps you out of the hot sun
Let me see said Mr Thomas and then turned to me, how many have I had caddy? I dont know I said. Well it is either 4 or 5 said Mr Thomas.
I think it is 5 said Mr Carter. I think it is 4 said Mr Thomas and turned to me again and said how many have I had caddy? So I said 4. Well said Mr Thomas personly I was not sure myself but my caddy says 4 and I guess he is right. Well the other men looked at each other and I and Joe Bean looked at each other but Mr Thomas went ahead and putted and was down in 2 putts.
Well he said I certainly come to life on them last 9 holes. So he turned in his score as 105 and with his handicap of 30 why that give him a net of 75 which was the same as Mr Crane so instead of Mr Crane getting 1 dozen golf balls and Mr Thomas getting ‘,2 a dozen golf balls why they will split the 1st and 2d prize makeing 9 golf balls a piece. Tues.
May 2. This was the first ladies day of the season and even Joe Bean had to carry for the fair sex.
We cadded for a 4 some which was Miss Rennie and Mrs Thomas against Mrs Doane and Mrs Carter.
I guess if they had of kept their score right the total for the 4 of them would of ran well over a 1000. Our course has a great many trees and they seemed to have a traction for our 4 ladies today and we was in amongst the trees more than we was on the fair way.
Well said Joe Bean theys one thing about cadding for these dames, it keeps you out of the hot sun. And another time he said he felt like a boy scout studing wood craft.
These dames is always up against a stump he said. And another time he said that it was not fair to charge these dames regular ladies dues in the club as they hardly ever used the course. Well it seems like they was a party in the village last night and of course the ladies was talking about it and Mrs Doane said what a lovely dress Miss Rennie wore to the party and Miss Rennie said she did not care for the dress herself.
Well said Mrs Doane if you want to get rid of it just hand it over to me. I wont give it to you said Miss Rennie but I will sell it to you at ;2 what it cost me and it was a bargain at that as it only cost me a $100.00 and I will sell it to you for $50.00. I have not got $50.00 just now to spend said Mrs Doane and besides I dont know would it fit me. Sure it would fit you said Miss Rennie, you and I are exactly the same size and figure, I tell you what I will do with you I will play you golf for it and if you beat me you can have the gown for nothing and if I beat you why you will give me $50.00 for it. All right but if I loose you may have to wait for your money said Mrs.
So this was on the 4th hole and they started from there to play for the dress and they was both terrible and worse then usual on acct of being nervous as this was the biggest stakes they had either of them ever played for tho the Doanes has got a bbl of money and $50.00 is chickens food. Well we was on the 16th hole and Mrs Doane was 1 up and Miss Rennie sliced her tee shot off in the rough and Mrs Doane landed in some rough over on the left so they was clear across the course from each other.
Well I and Mrs Doane went over to her ball and as luck would have it it had come to rest in a kind of a groove where a good player could not hardly make a good shot of if let alone Mrs Doane.
Well Mrs Thomas was out in the middle of the course for once in her life and the other 2 ladies was over on the right side and Joe Bean with them so they was nobody near Mrs Doane and I. Do I have to play it from there she said, I guess you do was my reply, Why Dick have you went back on me she said and give me one of her looks.
Well I looked to see if the others was looking and then I kind of give the ball a shove with my toe and it come out of the groove and laid where she could get a swipe at it. This was the 16th hole and Mrs Doane win it by 11 strokes to 10 and that made her 2 up and 2 to go.
Miss Rennie win the 17th but they both took a 10 for the 18th and that give Mrs Doane the match. Well I wont never have a chance to see her in Miss Rennies dress but if I did I aint sure that I would like it on her. Fri, May 5. Well I never thought wc would have so much excitement in the club and so much to write down in my diary but I guess I better get busy writeing it down as here it is Friday and it was Wed.
When the excitement broke loose and I was getting ready to play around when Harry Lear the caddy master come running out with the paper in his hand and showed it to me on the first page. It told how Chas Crane our club champion had went south with $8000 which he had stole out of Mr Thomas bank and a swell looking dame that was a stenographer in the bank had elloped with him and they had her picture in the paper and I will say she is a pip but who would of thought a nice quiet young man like Mr Crane was going to prove himself a gay Romeo and a specialy as he was engaged to Miss Rennie tho she now says she broke their engagement a month ago but any way the whole affair has certainly give everybody something to talk about and one of the caddys Lou Crowell busted Fat Brunner in the nose because Fat claimed to of been the last one that cadded for Crane.
Lou was really the last one and cadded for him last Sunday which was the last time Crane was at the club. — You see A1 he don’t want no mix-up with me because he knows he could not get nothing but the worst of it.
I will be friends with him but I won’t have nothing to do with Marie because if it had not of been for she and Florrie I would have money in the bank besides not being in no danger of getting sewed for none support. I guess you must of read about Joe Benz getting married and I guess he must of got a good wife and I that don’t bother him all the time because he pitched the opening game and shut Cleveland out with 2 hits.
He was pretty good Al, better than I ever seen him and they was a couple of times when his fast ball was pretty near as fast as mine. I have not worked yet A1 and I asked Callahan to-day what was the matter and he says I was waiting for you to get in shape.
I says I am in shape now and I notice that when I was pitching in practice this A.
They did not hit nothing out of the infield.
He says That was because you are so spread out that they could not get nothing past you.
He says The way you are now you cover more ground than the grand stand.
I says Is that so? And he walked away. We go out on a trip to Cleveland and Detroit and St.
Louis in a few days and maybe I will take my regular turn then because the other pitchers has been getting away lucky because most of the hitters has not got their batting eye as yet but wait till they begin hitting and then it will take a man like I to stop them. The 1st of May is our next pay day Al and then I will have enough money so as I can send you the $75.00.
Your pal, JACK. Detroit, Michigan, April 28. FRIEND AL: What do you think of a rotten manager that bawls me out and fines me $50.00 for loosing a r to o game in io innings when it was my 1st start this season? And no wonder I was a little wild in the 10th when I had not had no chance to work and get control.
I got a good notion to quit this rotten club and jump to the Federals where a man gets some kind of treatment.
Callahan says I throwed the game away on purpose but I did not do no such a thing Al because when I throwed that ball at Joe Hill’s head I forgot that the bases was full and besides if Gleason had not of starved me to death the ball that hit him in the head would of killed him. And how could a man go to 1st base and the winning run be forced in if he was dead which he should ought to of been the lucky left handed stiff if I had of had my full strenth to put on my fast one instead of being 1/2 starved to death and weak.
But I guess I better tell you how it come off.
The papers will get it all wrong like they generally allways does. Callahan asked me this A.M.
If I thought I was hard enough to work and I was tickled to death, because I seen he was going to give me a chance.
I told him Sure I was in good shape and if them Tigers scored a run off me he could keep me setting on the bench the rest of the summer.
So he says All right I am going to start you and if you go good maybe Gleason will let you eat some supper. Well Al when I begin warming up I happened to look up in the grand stand and who do you think I seen? Nobody but Violet.
She smiled when she seen me but I bet she felt more like crying.
Well I smiled back at her because she probily would of broke down and made a seen or something if I had not of.
They was not nobody warming up for Detroit when I begin warming up but pretty soon I looked over to their bench and Joe Hill Violet’s husband was warming up.
I says to myself Well here is where I show that bird up if they got nerve enough to start him against me but probily Jennings don’t want to waste no real pitcher on this game which he knows we got cinched and we would of had it cinched Al if they had of got a couple of runs or even i run for me. Well, Jennings come passed our bench just like he allways does and tried to pull some of his funny stuff.
He says Hello are you still in the league? I says Yes but I come pretty near not being.
I came pretty near being with Detroit.
I wish you could of heard Gleason and Callahan laugh when I pulled that one on him.
He says something back but it was not no hot comeback like mine. Well Al if I had of had any work and my regular control I guess I would of pitched a o hit game because the only time they could touch me was when I had to ease up to get them over.
Cobb was out of the game and they told me he was sick but I guess the truth is that he knowed I was going to pitch.
Crawford got a couple of lucky scratch hits off of me because I got in the hole to him and had to let up.
But the way that lucky left handed Hill got by was something awful and if I was as lucky as him I would quit pitching and shoot craps or something. Our club can’t hit nothing anyway.
But batting against this bird was just like hitting fungos.
His curve ball broke about 1/2 a inch and you could of wrote your name and address on his fast one while it was comeing up there.
He had good control but who would not when they put nothing on the ball? Well Al we could not get started against the lucky stiff and they could not do nothing with me even if my suport was rotten and I give a couple or 3 or 4 bases on balls but when they was men waiting to score I zipped them threw there so as they could not see them let alone hit them.
Every time I come to the bench between innings I looked up to where Violet was setting and give her a smile and she smiled back and once I seen her clapping her hands at me after I had made Moriarty pop up in the pinch. Well we come along to the loth inning, o and o, and all of a sudden we got after him.
Bodie hits one and Schalk get 2 strikes and 2 balls and then singles.
Callahan tells Alcock to bunt and he does it but Hill sprawls all over himself like the big boob he is and the bases is full with nobody down.
Well Gleason and Callahan argude about should they send somebody up for me or let me go up there and I says Let me go up there because I can murder this bird and Callahan says Well they is nobody out so go up and take a wallop. Honest Al if this guy had of had anything at all I would of hit i out of the park, but he did not have even a glove.
And how can a man hit pitching which is not no pitching at all but just slopping them up? When I went up there I hollered to him and says Stick i over here now you yellow stiff.
And he says Yes I can stick them over allright and that is where I got something on you. Well Al I hit a foul off of him that would of been a fare ball and broke up the game if the wind had not of been against it.
Then I swung and missed a curve that I don’t see how I missed it.
The next I was a yard outside and this Evans calls it a strike.
He has had it in for me ever since last year when he tried to get funny with me and I says something back to him that stung him. So he calls this 3d strike on me and I felt like murdering him.
But what is the use? I throwed down my bat and come back to the bench and I was glad Callahan and Gleason was out on the coaching line or they probably would of said something to me and I would of cut loose and beat them up.
Well Al Weaver and Blackburne looked like a couple of rums up there and we don’t score where we ought to of had 3 or 4 runs with any kind of hiring. I would of been all O.K.
In spite of that peace of rotten luck if this Hill had of walked to the bench and not said nothing like a real pitcher.
But what does he do but wait out there till I start for the box and I says Get on to the bench you lucky stiff or do you want me to hand you something? He says I don’t want nothing more of yourn.
I allready got your girl and your goat. Well Al what do you think of a man that would say a thing like that? And nobody but a left hander could of.
If I had of had a gun I would of killed him deader than a doornail or something.
He starts for the bench and I hollered at him Wait till you get up to that plate and then I am going to bean you. Honest Al I was so mad I could not see the plate or nothing.
I don’t even know who it was come up to bat ist but whoever it was I hit him in the arm and he walks to first base.
The next guy bunts and Chase tries to pull off I of them plays of hisn instead of playing safe and he don’t get nobody.
Well I kept getting madder and madder and I walks Stanage who if I had of been myself would not foul me. Callahan has Scotty warming up and Gleason runs out from the bench and tells me I am threw but Callahan says Wait a minute he is going to let Hill hit and this big stiff ought to be able to get him out of the way and that will give Scotty a chance to get warm.
Gleason says You better not take a chance because the big busher is hogwild, and they kept argueing till I got sick of listening to them and I went back to the box and got ready to pitch.
But when I seen this Hill up there I forgot all about the ball game and I cut loose at his bean. Well Al my control was all O.K.
This time and I catched him square on the fourhead and he dropped like as if he had been shot.
But pretty soon he gets up and gives me the laugh and runs to first base.
I did not know the game was over till Weaver come up and pulled me off the field.
But if I had not of been 1/2 starved to death and weak so as I could not put all my stuff on the ball you can bet that Hill never would of ran to first base and Violet would of been a widow and probily a lot better off than she is now.
At that I never should ought to of tried to kill a lefthander by hitting him in the head. Well Al they jumped all over me in the clubhouse and I had to hold myself back or I would of gave somebody the beating of their life.
Callahan tells me I am fined $50.oo and suspended without no pay.
I asked him What for and he says They would not be no use in telling’ you because you have not got no brains.
I says Yes I have to got some brains and he says Yes but they is in your stumach.
And then he says I wish we had of sent you to Milwaukee and I come back at him.
I says I wish you had of. Well Al I guess they is no chance of getting square treatment on this club and you won’t be surprised if you hear of me jumping to the Federals where a man is treated like a man and not like no white slave.
Yours truly, JACK. — Dad. Son. I am with him at the table when he eats.
I love the boy.
I marvel at his appetite, whole shipments he packs away.
My son can shovel it in.
Lamb chops I set before him with gladness.
My eyes are tears when he clears the table, the hamburgers and the shakes and the fries.
I make him drink milk.
Inside, he is oceans of milk. Eat! I scream. Get tall and taller.
Grow to the skies. My son rips through new sneakers every two weeks.
Owners, managers, franchisers would kill for him right now. People starve, the boy says. There are earthquakes in Peru that don’t let me sleep nights.
Squirrels are catching cold in the park.
Drug addicts and retarded children walk the streets. My flesh and blood weeps before me, my oil well.
Cuffs never make it past the boy’s ankles.
In less than a week any sleeve retreats from his wrists. I’m not even thirteen, he sobs. There’s so much to do.
Workers without unions get laid off.
Every day the earth falls a little closer into the sun.
I don’t know what to do, Pop.
Mexicans get gassed.
Puppies have to pick grapes. I run over to the boy.
He stoops to hug me. You’re hot property, I shriek up to him. Listen to your father.
You’re land in Florida, son.
Scoop shots and pivots.
I’m your father.
Bounce passes and free throws.
Listen to me. I run to the bedroom.
I drop the ball at his feet. Look, son.
Red, white, and blue.
What more could a boy ask for? He doesn’t pick it up.
I have to put the ball in his arms.
He lets the ball drop to the floor.
Tears pour down on me from above. Son, I say. Pop, he says. I lead my boy to a gymnasium.
I push him under a basket. Turn-around jumpers and tip-ins, I shout up. That’s what I want from you.
I want rebounds. Please, Pop. You’re just a boy, I beg. Listen to your father. I hold the ball out for him to take. Pop, he says. Son, I say. He takes the ball. A baby cries and I am moved.
A leaf gets touched and I melt.
A son bends to take a ball from his father’s hands, and …
Why . . .
I . . .
Believe. My son spins the ball.
My son eyes the seams.
My son pats the ball.
My son tests the weight. I don’t know, Pop. I reach up a fatherly hand.
I tap my boy on the chest. Factories murder the air.
Russians steal fish. It was meant for you, son.
Try it. — Let’s not, I said. You shouldn’t be anywhere tonight but in bed. Don’t argue with me! he barked. There are fee-simple sonsofbitches all over the country who’ve tried it and wish they hadn’t. He glared at me, flaring the whites of his eyes the way he’d done for 24 years to quaking pitchers, basemen, umpires and fans. If you and I are going to get along, he went on ominously, don’t increase my tension. We were alone in his isolated 10-room $75,000 lodge, having arrived six days earlier, loaded with a large smoked ham, a 20-pound turkey, a case of Scotch and another of champagne, for purposes of collaborating on Ty’s book-length autobiography-a book which he’d refused to write for 30 years, but then suddenly decided to place on record before he died.
In almost a week’s time we hadn’t accomplished 30 minutes of work. The reason: Cobb didn’t need a risky auto trip into Reno, but immediate hospitalization, and by the emergency-door entrance.
He was desperately ill and had been even before we’d left California. We had traveled 250 miles to Tahoe in Cobb’s black Imperial limousine, carrying with us a virtual drugstore of medicines.
These included Digoxin (for his leaky heart), Darvon (for his aching back), Tace (for a recently-operated-upon malignancy for the pelvic area), Fleet’s compound (for his infected bowels), Librium (for his tension -that is, his violent rages), codeine (for his pain) and an insulin needle-and-syringe kit (for his diabetes), among a dozen other panaceas which he’d substituted for doctors.
Cobb despised the medical profession. At the same time, his sense of balance was almost gone.
He tottered about the lodge, moving from place to place by grasping the furniture.
On any public street, he couldn’t navigate 20 feet without clutching my shoulder, leaning most of his 208 pounds upon me and shuffling along at a spraddle-legged gait.
His bowels wouldn’t work: they impacted, repeatedly, an almost total stoppage which brought moans of agony from Cobb when he sought relief.
He was feverish, with no one at his Tahoe hideaway but the two of us to treat this dangerous condition. Everything that hurts had caught up with his big, gaunt body at once and he stuffed himself with pink, green, orange, yellow and purple pills-guessing at the amounts, often, since labels had peeled off many of the bottles.
But he wouldn’t hear of hospitalizing himself. The hacksaw artists have taken $50,000 from me, he said, and they’ll get no more. He spoke of a quack who’d treated him a few years earlier. The joker got funny and said he found urine in my whisky.
I fired him. His diabetes required a precise food-insulin balance.
Cobb’s needle wouldn’t work.
He’d misplaced the directions for the needed daily insulin dosage and his hands shook uncontrolably when he went to plunge the needle into a stomach vein.
He spilled more of the stuff than he injected. He’d been warned by experts from Johns Hopkins to California’s Scripps Clinic-that liquor was deadly.
Tyrus snorted and began each day with several gin-and-orange-juices, then switched to Old Rarity Scotch, which held him until night hours, when sleep was impossible, and he tossed down cognac, champagne or Cobb Cocktails -Southern Comfort stirred into hot water and honey. A careful diet was essential.
Cobb wouldn’t eat.
The lodge was without a cook or manservant-since, in the previous six months, he had fired two cooks, a male nurse and a handyman in fits of anger-and any food I prepared for him he pushed away.
As of the night of the blizzard, the failing, splenetic old king of ballplayers hadn’t touched food in three days, existing solely on quarts of booze and booze mixtures. My reluctance to prepare the car for the Reno trip burned him up.
He beat his fists on the arms of his easy chair. I’ll go alone! he threatened. It was certain he’d try it.
The storm had worsened, but once Cobb set his mind on an idea, nothing could change it.
Beyond that I’d already found that to oppose or annoy him was to risk a violent explosion.
An event of a week earlier had proved that point.
It was then I discovered that he carried a loaded Luger wherever he went and looked for opportunities to use it. En route to Lake Tahoe, we’d stopped overnight at a motel near Hangtown, California.
During the night a party of drunks made a loud commotion in the parking lot.
In my room next to Cobb’s, I heard him cursing and then his voice, booming out the window. Get out of here, you heads! The drunks replied in kind.
Then everyone in the motel had his teeth jolted.
Groping his way to the door, Tyrus the Terrible fired three shots into the dark that resounded like cannon claps.
There were screams and yells.
Reaching my door, I saw the drunks climbing each other’s backs in their rush to flee.
The frightened motel manager, and others, arrived.
Before anyone could think of calling the police, the manager was cut down by the most caustic tongue ever heard in a baseball clubhouse. What kind of a pest house is this? roared Cobb. Who gave you a license, you mugwump? Get the hell out of here and see that I’m not disturbed! I’m a sick man and I want it quiet! B-b-beg your pardon, Mr.
Cobb, the manager said feebly.
He apparently felt so honored to have baseball’s greatest figure as a customer that no police were called.
When we drove away the next morning, a crowd gathered and stood gawking with open mouths. Down the highway, with me driving, Cobb checked the Luger and reloaded its nine-shell clip. Two of those shots were in the air, he remarked. The third kicked up gravel.
I’ve got permits for this gun from governors of three states.
I’m an honorary deputy sheriff of California and a Texas Ranger.
So we won’t be getting any complaints. He saw nothing strange in his behavior.
Ty Cobb’s rest bad been disturbed -therefore he had every right to shoot up the neighborhood. About then I began to develop a twitch of the nerves, which grew worse with time.
In past years, I’d heard reports of Cobb’s weird and violent ways, without giving them much credence.
But until early 1960 my own experience with the legendary Georgian bad been slight, amounting only to meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, and New York to discuss book-writing arrangements and to sign the contract. Locker-room stories of Ty’s eccentricities, wild temper, ego and miserliness sounded like the usual scandalmongering you get in sports.
I’d beard that Cobb had flattened a heckler in San Francisco’s Domino Club with one punch; had been sued by Elbie Felts, an ex-Coast League player, after assaulting Felts; that he booby-trapped his Spanish villa at Atherton, California, with high-voltage wires; that he’d walloped one of his ex-wives; that he’d been jailed in Placerville, California, at the age of 68 for speeding, abusing a traffic cop and then inviting the judge to return to law school at his, Cobb’s, expense. I passed these things off.
The one and only Ty Cobb was to write his memoirs and I felt highly honored to be named his collaborator. As the poet Cowper reflected, The innocents are gay. I was eager to start.
Then-a few weeks before book work began-I was taken aside and tipped off by an in-law of Cobb’s and one of Cobb’s former teammates with the Detroit Tigers that I hadn’t heard the half of it. Back out of this book deal, they urged. You’ll never finish it and you might get hurt. They went on: Nobody can live with Ty.
Nobody ever has.
That includes two wives who left him, butlers, housekeepers, chauffeurs, nurses and a few mistresses.
He drove off all his friends long ago.
Max Fleischmann, the yeastcake heir, was a pal of Ty’s until the night a houseguest of Fleischmann’s made a remark about Cobb spiking other players when he ran the bases.
The man only asked if it was true.
Cobb knocked the guy into a fish pond and after that Max never spoke to him again.
Another time, a member of Cobb’s family crossed him -a woman, mind you.
He broke her nose with a ball bat. — Tiring of my creeping pace, he gunned the Imperial around me in one big skid.
I caught a glimpse of an angry face under a big Stetson hat and a waving fist.
He was doing a good 30 mph when he’d gained 25 yards on me, fishtailing right and left, but straightening as he slid out of sight in the thick sleet. I let him go.
Suicide wasn’t in my contract. The next six miles was a matter of feeling my way and praying.
Near a curve I saw tail lights to the left.
Pulling up, I found Ty swung sideways and buried, nosedown, in a snow bank, his hind wheels two feet in the air.
Twenty yards away was a sheer drop-off into a canyon. You hurt? I asked. Bumped my head, he muttered.
He lit a cigar and gave four-letter regards to the Highway Department for not illuminating the danger spot.
His forehead was bruised and he’d broken his glasses. In my car, we groped our way down-mountain, a nightmare ride, with Cobb alternately taking in Scotch from a thermos jug and telling me to step on it.
At 3 a.m.
In Carson City, an all-night garageman used a broom to clean the car of snow and agreed to pick up the Imperial- when the road’s passable. With dawn breaking, we reached Reno.
All I wanted was a bed and all Cobb wanted was a craps table. He was rolling now, pretending he wasn’t ill, and with the Scotch bracing him.
Ty was able to walk into the Riverside Hotel casino with a hand on my shoulder and without staggering so obviously as usual.
Everybody present wanted to meet him.
Starlets from a film unit on location in Reno flocked around and comedian Joe E.
Lewis had the band play Sweet Georgia Brown-Ty’s favorite tune. Hope your dice are still honest, he told Riverside co-owner Bill Miller. Last time I was here I won $12,000 in three hours. How I remember, Ty, said Miller. How I remember. A scientific craps player who’d won and lost huge sums in Nevada in the past, Cobb bet $100 chips, his eyes alert, not missing a play around the board.
He soon decided that the table was cold and we moved to another casino, then a third.
At this last stop, Cobb’s legs began to grow shaky.
Holding himself up by leaning on the table edge with his forearms, he dropped $300, then had a hot streak in which he won over $800.
His voice was a croak as he told the other players, Watch’em and weep. But then suddenly his voice came back.
When the stickman raked the dice his way, Cobb loudly said, You touched the dice with your hand. No sir; said the stickman. I did not. I don’t lie! snarled Cobb. I don’t lie either, insisted the stickman. Nobody touches my dice! Cobb, swaying on his feet, eyes blazing, worked his way around the table toward the croupier.
It was a weird tableau.
In his crumpled Stetson and expensive camel’s-hair coat, stained and charred with cigarette burns, a three-day beard grizzling his face, the gaunt old giant of baseball towered over the dapper gambler. You fouled the dice.
I saw you, growled Cobb, and then he swung. The blow missed, as the stickman dodged, but, cursing and almost falling, Cobb seized the wooden rake and smashed it over the table.
I jumped in and caught him under the arms as he sagged. And then, as quickly as possible, we were put into the street by two large uniformed guards. Sorry, Mr.
Cobb, they said, unhapply, but we can’t have this. A crowd had gathered and as we started down the street, Cobb swearing and stumbling and clinging to me, I couldn’t have felt more conspicuous if I’d been strung naked from the neon arch across Reno’s main drag, Virginia Street.
At the streetcorner, Ty was struck by an attack of breathlessness. Got to stop, he gasped.
Feeling him going limp on me, I turned his six-foot body against a lamppost, braced my legs and with an underarm grip held him there until he caught his breath.
He panted and gulped for air. His face gray, he murmured, Reach into my left hand coat pocket. Thinking he wanted his bottle of heart pills, I did.
But instead pulled out a six-inch-thick wad of currency, secured by a rubber band. Couple of thousand there, he said weakly. Don’t let it out of sight. At the nearest motel, where I hired a single, twin-bed room, he collapsed on the bed in his coat and hat and slept.
After finding myself some breakfast, I turned in.
Hours later I heard him stirring. What’s this place? he muttered.
I told him the name of the motel-Travelodge. Where’s the bankroll? In your coat.
You’re wearing it. Then he was quiet. After a night’s sleep, Cobb felt well enough to resume his gambling.
In the next few days, he won more than $3,000 at the tables, and then we went sightseeing in historic Virginia City.
There, as in all places, he stopped traffic.
And had the usual altercation.
This one was at the Bucket of Blood, where Cobb accused the bartender of serving watered Scotch.
The bartender denied it.
Crash! Another drink went flying. Back at the lodge a week later, looking like the wrath of John Barleycorn and having refused medical aid in Reno, he began to suffer new and excruciating pains-in his hips and lower back.
But between groans he forced himself to work an hour a day on his autobiography.
He told inside baseball tales never published: . . .
Frank Navin, who owned the Detroit club for years, faked his turnstile count to cheat the visiting team and Uncle Sam.
So did Big Bill Devery and Frank Farrell, who owned the New York Highlanders-later called the Yankees. — That’s no way to talk to an old friend, Ty, I said. She was trying to do you a favor. And you’re a hell of a poor guest around here, too! he thundered. You can leave any old time! He quickly grabbed a bottle and heaved it in my direction. Thought you could throw straighter than that! I yelled back. Fed up with him, I started to pack my bags.
Before I’d finished, Cobb broke out a bottle of vintage Scotch, said I was damned sensitive, half-apologized, and the matter was forgotten. While working one morning on an outside observation deck, I heard a thud inside.
On his bedroom floor, sprawled on his back, lay Ty.
He was unconscious, his eyes rolled back, breathing shallowly.
I thought he was dying. There was no telephone. Eavesdropping on the line, Cobb had told me. I had it cut off. I ran down the road to a neighboring lodge and phoned a Carson City doctor, who promised to come immediately. Back at the lodge, Ty remained stiff and stark on the floor, little bubbles escaping his lips.
His face was bluish-white.
With much straining, I lifted him halfway to the bed and by shifting holds finally rolled him onto it, and covered him with a blanket.
Twenty minutes passed.
No doctor. Ten minutes later, I was at the front door, watching for the doctor’s car, when I heard a sound.
There stood Ty, swaying on his feet. You want to do some work on the book? he said. His recovery didn’t seem possible. But you were out cold a minute ago, I said. Just a dizzy spell.
Have ‘em all the time.
Must have hit my head on the bedpost when I fell. The doctor, arriving, found Cobb’s blood pressure standing at a grim 210 on the gauge.
His temperature was 101 degrees and, from gross neglect of his diabetes, he was in a state of insulin shock, often fatal if not quickly treated. I’ll have to hospitalize you, Mr.
Cobb, said the doctor. Weaving his way to a chair, Cobb angrily waved him away. Just send me your bill, he grunted. I’m going home. Home was the multimillionaire’s main residence at Atherton, California, on the San Francisco Peninsula, 250 miles away, and it was there he headed later that night.
With some hot soup and insulin in him, Cobb recovered with the same unbelievable speed he’d shown in baseball.
In his heyday, trainers often sewed up deep spike cuts in his knees, shins and thighs, on a clubhouse bench, without anesthetic, and he didn’t lose an inning.
Grantland Rice one 1920 day sat beside a bedridden, feverish Cobb, whose thighs, from sliding, were a mass of raw flesh.
Sixteen hours later, he hit a triple, double, three singles and stole two bases to beat the Yankees.
On the Atherton ride, he yelled insults at several motorists who moved too slowly to suit him.
Reaching Atherton, Ty said he felt ready for another drink. My latest surprise was Cobb’s 18-room, two-story, richly landscaped SpanishCalifornia villa at 48 Spencer Lane, an exclusive neighborhood.
You could have held a ball game on the grounds. But the $90,000 mansion had no lights, no heat, no hot water. I’m suing the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, he explained, for overcharging me on the service.
Those rinky-dinks tacked an extra $16 on my bill.
Bunch of crooks.
When I wouldn’t pay, they cut off my utilities.
Okay-I’ll see them in court. For months previously, Ty Cobb had lived in a totally dark house.
The only illumination was candlelight.
The only cooking facility was a portable Coleman stove, such as campers use.
Bathing was impossible, unless you could take it cold.
The electric refrigerator, stove, deep-freeze, radio and television, of course, didn’t work.
Cobb had vowed to hold the fort until his trial of the P.G.&E.
Simultaneously, he had filed a $60,000 suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the State of California to recover state income taxes already collected-on the argument that he wasn’t a permanent resident of California, but of Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and other waypoints.
State’s attorneys claimed he spent at least six months per year in Atherton, thus had no case. I’m gone so much from here, he claimed, that I’ll win hands down. All legal opinion, I later learned, held just the opposite view, but Cobb ignored their advice. Next morning, I arranged with Ty’s gardener, Hank, to turn on the lawn sprinklers.
In the outdoor sunshine, a cold-water shower was easier to take.
From then on, the back yard became my regular washroom. The problem of lighting a desk so that we could work on the book was solved by stringing 200 feet of cord, plugged into an outlet of a neighboring house, through hedges and flower gardens and into the window of Cobb’s study, where a single naked bulb, hung over the chandelier, provided illumination. The flickering shadows cast by the single light made the vast old house seem haunted.
No ghost writer ever had more ironical surroundings. At various points around the premises, Ty showed me where he’d once installed high-voltage wires to stop trespassers. Curiosity-seekers? I asked. Hell, no he said. Detectives broke in here once looking for evidence against me in a divorce suit.
After a couple of them got burned, they stopped coming. To reach our bedrooms, Cobb and I groped our way down long, black corridors.
Twice he fell in the dark.
And then, collapsing completely, he became so ill that he was forced to check in at Stanford Hospital in nearby Palo Alto.
Here another shock was in store. One of the physicians treating Ty’s case, a Dr.
Brown, said, Do you mean to say that this man has traveled 700 miles in the last month without medical care? Doctor, I said I’ve hauled him in and out of saloons, motels, gambling joints, steam baths and snowbanks.
There’s no holding him. It’s a miracle he’s alive.
He has almost every major ailment I know about. Dr.
Brown didn’t reveal to me Ty’s main ailment, which news Cobb, himself, broke late one night from his hospital bed. It’s cancer, he said, bluntly. About a year ago I had most of my prostate gland removed when they found it was malignant.
Now it’s spread up into the back bones.
These pill-peddlers here won’t admit it, but I haven’t got a chance. Cobb made me swear I’d never divulge the fact before he died. If it gets in the papers, the sob sisters will have a field day.
I don’t want sympathy from anybody. At Stanford, where he absorbed seven massive doses of cobalt radiation, the ultimate cancer treatment, he didn’t act like a man on his last legs.
Even before his strength returned, he was in the usual form. They won’t let me have a drink, he said, indignantly. I want you to get me a bottle.
Smuggle it in in your tape-recorder case. I tried, telling myself that no man with terminal cancer deserves to be dried up, but sharp-eyed nurses and orderlies were watching.
They searched Ty’s closet, found the bottle and over his roars of protest appropriated it. — Huh! said the third boy. Where’d you ever see a lynx? Oh, I’ve seen ‘em-plenty of ‘em.
I bet you’d be scared if you seen one once. Jimmie and the other boy each demanded, How do you know I would? They penetrated deeper into the wood.
The climbed a rocky zigzag path which led them at times where with their hands they could almost touch the tops of giant pines.
The gray cliffs sprang sheer toward the sky.
Willie Dalzel babbled about his impossible lynx, and they stalked the mountain-side like chamois-hunters, although no noise of bird or beast broke the stillness of the hills.
Below them Whilomville was spread out somewhat like the cheap greenand-black lithograph of the time- A Bird’s-eye View of Whilomville, N.Y. In the end the boys reached the top of the mountain and scouted off among wild and desolate ridges.
They were burning with the desire to slay large animals.
They thought continually of elephants, lions, tigers, crocodiles.
They discoursed upon their immaculate conduct in case such monsters confronted them, and they all lied carefully about their courage. The breeze was heavy with the smell of sweet fern.
The pins and hemlocks sighed as they waved their branches.
In the hollows the leaves of the laurels were lacquered where the sunlight found them.
No matter the weather, it would be impossible to long continue an expedition of this kind without a fire, and presently they built one, snapping.
Down for fuel the brittle under branches of the pines.
About this fire they were willed to conduct a sort of play, the Dalzel boy taking the part of a bandit chief, and the other boys being his trusty lieutenants.
They stalked to and fro, long-strided, stern yet devil-may-care, three terrible little figures. Jimmie had an uncle who made game of him whenever he caught him in this kind of play, and often this uncle quoted derisively the following classic: Once aboard the lugger, Bill, and the girl is mine.
Now to burn the chateau and destroy all evidence of our crime.
But, hark ‘e, Bill, no wiolence. Wheeling abruptly, he addressed these dramatic words to his comrades.
They were impressed; they decided at once to be smugglers, and in the most ribald fashion they talked about carrying off young women. At last they continued their march through the woods.
The smuggling motif was now grafted fantastically upon the original lynx idea, which Willie Dalzel refused to abandon at any price. Once they came upon an innocent bird which happened to be looking another way at the time.
After a great deal of maneuvering and big words, Willie Dalzel reared his fowling piece and blew this poor thing into a mere rag of wet feathers, of which he was proud. Afterward the other big boy had a turn at another bird.
Then it was plainly Jimmie’s chance.
The two others had, of course, some thought of cheating him out of his chance, but of a truth he was timid to explode such a thunderous weapon, and as soon as they detected this fear they simply overbore him, and made it clearly understood that if he refused to shoot he would lose his caste, his scalplock, his girdle, his honor. They had reached the old death-colored snake-fence which marked the limits of the upper pasture of the Fleming farm.
Under some hickory trees the path ran parallel to the fence.
Behold! a small priestly chipmunk came to a rail and, folding his hands on his abdomen, addressed them in his own tongue.
It was Jimmie’s shot.
Adjured by the others, he took the gun.
His face was stiff with apprehension.
The Dalzel boy was giving forth fine words. Go ahead.
Aw, don’t be afraid.
It’s nothin’ to do.
Why, I’ve done it a million times.
Don’t shut both your eyes, now.
Jus’ keep one open and shut the other one.
He’ll get away if you don’t watch out.
Now you’re all right.
Why don’t you let ‘er go? Go ahead. Jimmie, with his legs braced apart, was in the center of the path.
His back was greatly bent, owing to the mechanics of supporting the heavy gun.
His companions were screeching in the rear.
There was a wait. Then be pulled trigger.
To him there was a frightful roar, his cheek and his shoulder took a stunning blow, his face felt a hot flush of fire, and, opening his two eyes, he found that he was still alive.
He was not too dazed to instantly adopt a becoming egotism.
It had been the first shot of his life. But directly after the well-mannered celebration of this victory a certain cow, which had been grazing in the line of fire, was seen to break wildly across the pasture, bellowing and bucking.
The three smugglers and lynx-hunters looked at each other out of blanched faces.
Jimmie had hit the cow.
The first evidence of his comprehension of this fact was in the celerity with which he returned the discharged gun to Willie Dalzel. They turned to flee.
The land was black, as if it had been overshadowed suddenly with thick storm-clouds, and even as they fled in their horror a gigantic Swedish farm hand came from the heavens and fell upon them, shrieking in eerie triumph.
In a twinkle they were clouted prostrate.
The Swede was elate and ferocious in a foreign and fulsome way.
He continued to beat them and yell. From the ground they raised their dismal appeal. Oh, please, mister, we didn’t do it! He did it! I didn’t do it! We didn’t do it! We didn’t mean to do it! Oh, please, mister! In these moments of childish terror little lads go half blind, and it is possible that few moments of their after life made them suffer as they did when the Swede flung them over the fence and marched them toward the farmhouse.
They begged like cowards on the scaffold, and each one was for himself. Oh, please let me go, mister! I didn’t do it, mister! He did it! Oh, p-l-ease let me go, mister! The boyish view belongs to boys alone, and if this tall and knotted laborer was needlessly without charity, none of the three lads questioned it.
Usually when they were punished they decided that they deserved it, and the more they were punished the more they were convinced they were criminals of a most subterranean type.
As to the hitting of the cow being a pure accident, and therefore not of necessity a criminal matter, such reading never entered their heads.
When things happened and they were caught, they commonly paid consequences -9 they were accustomed to measure the probabilities of woe utterly by the damage done, and not in any way by the culpability.
The shooting of the cow was plainly heinous, and undoubtedly their dungeons would be knee-deep in water. He did it, mister! This was a general outcry.
Jimmie used it as often as did the others.
As for them, it is certain that they had no direct thought of betraying their comrade for their own salvation.
They thought themselves guilty because they were caught; when boys were not caught they might possibly be innocent.
But captured boys were guilty.
When they cried out that Jimmie was the culprit, it was principally a simple expression of terror. Old Henry Fleming, the owner of the farm, strode across the pasture toward them.
He had in his hand a most cruel whip.
The whip he flourished.
At his approach the boys suffered the agonies of the fire regions.
And yet anybody with half an eye could see that the whip in his hand was a mere accident, and that he was a kind old man-when he cared. When he had come near he spoke crisply. What you boys ben doin’ to my cow? The tone had deep threat in it.
They all answered by saying that none of them had shot the cow.
Their denials were tearful and clamorous, and they crawled knee by knee.
The vision of it was like three martyrs being dragged toward the stake.
Old Fleming stood there, grim, tight-lipped.
After a time he said, Which boy done it? There was some confusion, and then Jimmie spake. I done it, mister. Fleming looked at him.
Then he asked, Well, what did you shoot ‘er fer? Jimmie thought, hesitated, decided, faltered, and then formulated this: I thought she was a lynx. Old Fleming and his Swede at once day down in the grass and laughed themselves helpless. September, 1899 HYPERLINK \l Essays: top Nineteen Big Ones DAVID ALLAN EVANS A hot June night, the two of them on a hotel bed naked, on their backs, the sheet pulled up just above the knees.
He is next to the window.
Pulling a light cool breeze over them. You know what Jack Nicklaus did last weekend after the first round of the British Open?” he says. No, she says. He shot a 79, seven over par, and then-do you know what par is? No. Let’s say on a given hole it takes four strokes to get the ball in the hole.
Gauge it by how many strokes a very good golfer would need to get the into the hole.
Let’s say the par is four.
Then you take every hole of the 18 holes, add up the pars, what a very good golfer would shoot-and that’s par for the golf course …
Okay? Yeh. You getting a breeze? Yeh. You know what Nicklaus did the other day-last Thursday-after he shot a miserable round of 79, seven strokes over? Yeh? “Are you listening?” Yeh. Now you have to realize, Jack Nicklaus is the very greatest golfer of all time.
When he retires . . .
He’s my age, exactly.
I know because I’ve been following him on TV for 20 years . . .
We’re both 42 . . .
His birthday’s in March, mine’s in April….
Anyway, he shoots a 79 in the first round-seven over-and then he goes out that evening by himself and drives balls for two hours in the rain.
Two hours in the rain …
Can you believe it? No. You know what a driver is? No. That’s the wooden club you use to drive off the tee.
Every hole has a tee and you drive the ball off the tee for your first shot.
Nicklaus and a few other pros-only a very few-can actually drive a golfball 300 yards …
You know how long a football field is? Yeh? — Goodnight. HYPERLINK \l Essays: top WILLIAM HARRISON Roller Ball Murder T he game, the game: here we go again.
All glory to it, all things I am and own because of Roller Ball Murder. Our team stands in a row, twenty of us in salute as the corporation hymn is played by the band.
We view the hardwood oval track which offers us the bumps and rewards of mayhem: fifty yards long, thirty yards across the ends, high banked, and at the top of the walls the cannons which fire those frenzied twenty-pound balls-similar to bowling balls, made of ebonite-at velocities over three hundred miles an hour.
The balls careen around the track, eventually slowing and falling with diminishing centrifugal force, and as they go to ground or strike a player another volley fires.
Here we are, our team: ten roller skaters, five motorbike riders, five runners (or clubbers).
As the hymn plays, we stand erect and tough; eighty thousand sit watching in the stands and another two billion viewers around the world inspect the set of our jaws on multivision. The runners, those bastards, slip into their heavy leather gloves and shoulder their lacrosselike paddles-with which they either catch the whizzing balls or bash the rest of us.
The bikers ride high on the walls (beware, mates, that’s where the cannon shots are too hot to handle) and swoop down to help the runners at opportune times.
The skaters, those of us with the juice for it, protest: we clog the way, try to keep the runners from passing us and scoring points, and become the fodder in the brawl.
So two teams of us, forty in all, go skating and running and biking around the track while the big balls are fired in the same direction as we move-always coming up behind us to scatter and maim us-and the object of the game, fans, as if you didn’t know, is for the runners to pass all skaters on the opposing team, field a ball, and pass it to a biker for one point.
Those bikers, by the way, may give the runners a lift-in which case those of us on skates have our hands full overturning 175cc motorbikes. No rest periods, no substitute players.
If you lose a man, your team plays short. Today I turn my best side to the cameras.
I’m Jonathan E, none other, and nobody passes me on the track.
I’m the core of the Houston team and for the two hours of play-no rules, no penalties once the first cannon fires-I’ll level any bastard runner who raises a paddle at me. We move: immediately there are pileups of bikes, skaters, referees, and runners, all tangled and punching and scrambling when one of the balls zooms around the comer and belts us.
I pick up momentum and heave an opposing skater into the infield at center ring; I’m brute speed today, driving, pushing up on the track, dodging a ball, hurtling downward beyond those bastard runners.
Two runners do hand-to-hand combat and one gets his helmet knocked off in a blow which tears away half his face; the victor stands there too long admiring his work and gets wiped out by a biker who swoops down and flattens him.
The crowd screams and I know the cameramen have it on an isolated shot and that viewers in Melbourne, Berlin, Rio, and L.A.
Are heaving with excitement in their easy chairs. When an hour is gone I’m still wheeling along, naturally, though we have four team members out with broken parts, one rookie maybe dead, two bikes demolished.
The other team, good old London, is worse off. One of their motorbikes roars out of control, takes a hit from one of the balls, and bursts into flame.
Wild cheering. Cruising up next to their famous Jackie Magee, I time my punch.
He turns in my direction, exposes the ugly snarl inside his helmet, and I take him out of action.
In that tiniest instant, I feel his teeth and bone give way and the crowd screams approval.
We have them now, we really have them, we do, and the score ends 7-2. The years pass and the rules alter-always in favor of a greater crowd-pleasing carnage.
I’ve been at this more than fifteen years, amazing, with only broken arms and collarbones to slow me down, and I’m not as spry as ever, but meaner-and no rookie, no matter how much in shape, can learn this slaughter unless he comes out and takes me on in the real thing. But the rules.
I hear of games in Manila, now, or in Barcelona with no time limits, men bashing each other until there are no more runners left, no way of scoring points.
That’s the coming thing.
I hear of Roller Ball Murder played with mixed teams, men and women, wearing tear-away jerseys which add a little tit and vulnerable exposure to the action.
Everything will happen.
They’ll change the rules until we skate on a slick of blood, we all know that. Before this century began, before the Great Asian war of the 19gos, before the corporations replaced nationalism and the corporate police forces supplanted the world’s armies, in the last days of American football and the World Cup in Europe, I was a tough young rookie who knew all the rewards of this game.
Women: I had them all-even, pity, a good marriage once.
I had so much money after my first trophies that I could buy houses and land and lakes beyond the huge cities where only the executive class was allowed.
My photo, then, as now, was on the covers of magazines, so that my name and the name of the sport were one, and I was Jonathan E, no other, a survivor and much more in the bloodiest sport. At the beginning I played for Oil Conglomerates, then those corporations became known as ENERGY; I’ve always played for the team here in Houston, they’ve given me everything. How’re you feeling? Mr.
Bartholemew asks me.
He’s taking the head of ENERGY, one of the most powerful men in the world, and he talks to me like I’m his son. Feeling mean, I answer, so that he smiles. He tells me they want to do a special on multivision about my career, lots of shots on the side screens showing my greatest plays, and the story of my life, how ENERGY takes in such orphans, gives them work and protection, and makes careers possible. Really feel mean, eh? Mr.
Bartholemew asks again, and I answer the same, not telling him all that’s inside me because he would possibly misunderstand; not telling him that I’m tired of the long season, that I’m lonely and miss my wife, that I yearn for high, lost, important thoughts, and that maybe, just maybe, I’ve got a deep rupture in the soul. An old buddy, Jim Cletus, comes by the ranch for the weekend.
Mackie, my present girl, takes our dinners out of the freezer and turns the rays on them; not so domestic, that Mackie, but she has enormous breasts and a waist smaller than my thigh. — Archeologists, of course, actually explore old territory-but old territory become new by being brought back to light again.
The artifacts and textsthe old territory-provide the memories, but they must be reconstructed, recontexted, and interpreted by the imagination-the synthesis becoming the new territory.
Kinsella draws on the most mythic character of all baseball memory, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and one of the most mythic characters of recent literary memory, J.D.
Salinger, for his imaginative fantasy of the meeting of baseball and literature. Failed insurance salesman and marginal Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella one spring evening hears a ballpark announcer’s voice say, If you build it, he will come. Somehow Ray knows the he is Shoeless Joe and the it is a ballfield.
He proceeds by his own personal labor to clear a portion of a cornfield and transform it to a ballfield, somewhat primitive and skeletal, but with a perfect left field (Joe’s position) which, after three seasons of dedicated grounds-keeper’s work on Ray’s part, has grass like green angora, soft as a baby’s cheek. This labor of devotion does indeed conjure up Shoeless Joe Jackson, in the flesh, who plays magnificent baseball with ghostly teammates and opponents for Ray’s delectation.
As the short story from which the novel grew-now the novel’s first chapter-closes, Joe and Ray agree that baseball in an Iowa cornfield is heaven. But Ray’s reconstructing of the past and some of its legendary heroes is not finished.
Joe encourages him to complete the entire ballfield, thus to give substance to the rest of the players-primarily the rest of the fabled Black Sox, but including also Ray’s own father, a catcher who never made it above the Class B minors, but who now will get to play with the greats (albeit somewhat tarnished ones) of his own generation.
More to the point, though (both for this essay and for Kinsella’s novel), is the announcer’s voice come again to Ray with the cryptic statement, Ease his pain. Ray somehow knows that his, this time, refers to J.
Salinger, and that he must go to Salinger, not to interview him, but to take him to a baseball game! Now what is J.D.
Salinger doing in a book about baseball? Well, though Kinsella doesn’t mention it, the cover of the paperack edition of The Catcher in the Rye in the 50′s (more recently replaced by an austere monochromatic cover) depicts a somewhat forlorn Holden Caulfield wearing a hunting cap, bill turned backward baseball catcher-style.
And in that novel we learn that Holden’s favorite author, other than his brother D.
B., is Ring Lardner.
Even more significantly, we find that Holden’s revered dead brother Allie (perhaps a prototype of Salinger’s Seymour Glass) had a baseball mitt covered with poems written in green ink, so that he’d have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. And in his last published story, Hapworth 16, 1924 (New Yorker, June 19, 1965, pp. 32-113), which takes the form of a precocious and preposterous 30,000-word letter to his family from camp-bound seven-year-old Seymour (and which Kinsella does mention-see below-though not this detail), Salinger has Seymour refer to his stock of exhausted (ie, already read) poems in my drawer in N.
Incorrectly marked athletic equipment. Poems on a baseball glove? Poems in a drawer marked athletic equipment ? Is it from these tiny hints that Kinsella deduces an equation between baseball and literature in Salinger? Or, at least, where he gets the idea for his own such equation, and his justification for introducing Salinger as a character in Shoeless Joe? I would say so, especially in view of this passage from Hapworth which Kinsella himself (both author and character) quotes: baseball, perhaps the most heartrending, delicious sport in the Western Hemisphere. The Hapworth story has some deeper implications for Kinsella’s novel, but I must postpone them for a minute in order to mention another more obvious connection with Salinger: Ray Kinsella notes with amazement that his own name was used by Salinger for a major character in his early short story A Young Girl in 1941 with No Waist at All (Mademoiselle, May 1947, pp. 222-223, 292-302).
This, by the way, is a fact, not a Borgesian invention by Kinsella the author, though of course having Ray discover this fact is a nice Borgesian touch. What is an invention is an interview Salinger supposedly gave to an obscure literary magazine in which he revealed himself to be a devoted baseball fan whose childhood dream it was to play at the Polo Grounds, who hadn’t attended a live baseball game since watching Sal Maglie pitch there in 1954, who still kept a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia in a prominent place on his bookshelf . . . [and] who avidly watched whatever baseball was available on television. And who laments, `they tore down the Polo Grounds in 1964′ -a lament Kinsella (and here we find it hard to make a distinction between Kinsella the author and Kinsella the character-narrator) uses as the title of his second chapter.
It is these uncanny coincidences -some fact, some fantasy, as noted in the previous two paragraphs-that gave Ray the courage to follow his voice and go after Salinger. Or are there ever coincidences? Ray asks. These various blendings of fact and fantasy-words Salinger really said/wrote with the invented ones, Salinger himself as a real person and as a character, in the novel, Kinsella himself as a real person and as a character in this novel-are what make the novel so interesting and give it its focus on the creative process itself, on the complex interrelationships between memory and imagination, as I put it earlier.
What is fact, what is fiction, and which is more real? Salinger (the character) raises this issue when he debunks to Ray the baseball interview he supposedly gave, along with the many other genuinely fake interviews produced by people who ‘get two words from a grocery clerk or a gas-station attendant and then write and publish an exclusive interview.’ On the surface level, of course, this statement has a rather obvious irony.
But on a deeper level it assumes a more complex irony, what we might call a positive (as opposed to negative or sarcastic) irony: it is W.
Kinsella’s imagination that has actually produced this interview, not as a piece of phony journalism, but as a piece of genuine fiction; not, that is, as a fraud, but as a creation.
And so, as Ray Kinsella’s imagination has produced the revival of Shoeless Joe and the whole fantasy world of early 1920′s baseball, has W.
Kinsella’s imagination produced this wonderful novel in which Ray etc. And, as noted above, Ray and W.
Tend to become one.
Now of course we must beware of the freshman fallacy of identifying author with narrating character (persona).
But Kinsella certainly (and intentionally) tempts us to let down our skepticism in this regard, as Salinger earlier had tempted us to do by hinting at the similarities between himself and Buddy Glass.
Ray, having already told us (readers) the story Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa as chapter one, then in chapter two has to tell it to Salinger.
And at the end of that chapter Ray promises to tell him the story of the kidnapping of J.
Salinger, in which they have just been participants! (The fifth and last chapter, by the way, is called The Rapture of J.
Salinger, rapture being another kind of kidnapping, but I leave it to the reader to investigate that for him/ herself.) Now the relationship between fact and fantasy is a matter of great troublesomeness to the precocious seven-year-old philosopher Seymour Glass in Salinger’s Hapworth 16, 1924, though Seymour frames the problem in terms of fact vs.
Since the story has never been reprinted and is thus not easily accessible, I quote at length: For the dubious satisfaction of calling anything in this beautiful, maddening world an unassailable, respectable fact, we are quite firmly obligated, like good-humored prisoners [an allusion to Plato's cave allegory?], to fall back on the flimsy information offered in excellent faith by our eyes, hands, ears, and simple, heartrending brains.
Do you call that a superb criterion? I do not! It is very touching, without a shadow of a doubt, but it is far, far from superb.
It is utter, blind reliance on heartrending personal agencies.
You are familiar with the expression go-between; even the human brain is a charming go-between! I was born without any looming confidence in any go-between on the face of the earth, I am afraid, an unfortunate situation, to be sure, but I have no business failing to take a moment to tell you the cheerful truth of the matter.
Here, however, we move quite closer to the crux of the constant turmoil in my ridiculous breast.
While I have no confidence whatsoever in go-betweens, personal opinion, and unassailable, respectable facts, I am also, in my heart, exceedingly fond of them all; I am hopelessly touched to the quick at the bravery of every magnificent human being accepting this charming, flimsy information every heartrending moment of his life! My God, human beings are brave creatures! Every last, touching coward on the face of the earth is unspeakably brave! Imagine accepting all these flimsy, personal agencies at charming, face value! Quite at the same time to be sure, it is a vicious circle.
I am sadly convinced that it would be a gentle, durable favor to everybody if someone broke through this vicious circle.
One often wishes, however, there were not such a damn rush about it.
One is never more separated from one’s charming, loved ones than when one even ponders this delicate matter.
Unfortunately, there is a great rush about it in my own case; I am quite referring to the shortness of this appearance.
What I am seeking, with the very ample but in some ways quite scrawny amount of time left in this appearance, is a solution to the problem that is both honorable and unheartless.
Here, however, I drop the subject like a hot potatoe; I have merely scratched one of its myriad surfaces. [Eccentric punctuation sic throughout.] (And drop it he does, instantly and totally.) Perhaps this passage illuminates Seymour’s/Salinger’s curious adjective heartrending as he uses it to describe baseball earlier; it also, I think; provides a stimulus for Kinsella’s equating of baseball and the creative imagination.
Seymour here sounds like Coleridge as described by Keats in his famous negative capability passage: Coleride, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. For Coleridge lacked that which Shakespeare had so enormously, and which Keats himself strove for so valiantly: Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. Seymour at age seven is certainly tormented by irritable reaching after fact and reason. As Seymour later became a poet (so the other Glass family stories tell us), perhaps he found some kind of Keatsian solution-or, I should say rather, transcendenceof the problem.
We never really know, since Salinger never gives us any but the tiniest and most trivial indications of what Seymour’s poetry actually was.
And Seymour’s suicide may have been prompted by his very failure to find such solution or transcendence.
But that’s not much to the point here, anyway, since we’re interested in Seymour only as a stimulus to Kinsella’s imagination, not as a full-fledged influence over him. As Shoeless Joe proceeds, Salinger joins Ray on his quest to fulfill his baseball fantasies, in the process bringing back to life one more ancient ballplayer to join Shoeless Joe, Ray’s father, and the other immortals who frolic in Ray’s cornfield ballpark.
They do this by the power of memory reinforced by imagination. ‘Memory’s a funny thing, ‘ says a man in.
The hometown of the deceased ballplayer they’re pursuing. ‘It’s like all those memories we have of Doc Graham had gone to sleep and sunk way down inside us.
But once you started asking about him and started us talking about him, why they swum right up to the surface again.
It’s almost like you brought Doc back to life. ‘ But the memories are enriched with the dream-like encrustations of the imagination: ‘The memory sure does you strange sometimes. ‘ This bringing back to life is the final key to Kinsella’s paralleling of baseball and writing, and, I think, to his use of Salinger (even if we can’t go so far as to agree with the Time writer who said that the seventy-one-page dialogue between Bessie and Zooey leaves broad hints, for those who care to take them, that Salinger has set himself to writing an American Remembrance of Thins Past. September 15, 1961, reprinted in Henry Anatole Grunwald, Salinger: A Critical and Personal Portrait [New York, 1962], p. 8).
For in the lengthy passage from Hapworth quoted above we note Seymour’s reference to this appearance. He is referring to a theory of reincarnation.
While not wishing to get into the matter of Salinger’s use of Eastern religions and how serious and literal he’s being here, I want to suggest that this idea of reincarnation is a beautiful metaphor for the creation or recreation of a character through the powers of the literary imagination.
In a touching passage in the novel Ray tells us of his mother’s acerbic response to his proudly bringing home the first bird he shot: `Bring it back to life.’ `I can’t’ says the abashed boy.
But later as an adult he finds that he can bring people back to life so they can have a second chance, and he can bring his dreams to life so he can share them with others. In the most incandescent passage in the novel he tells Salinger of the magic of his baseball field, of his creation : What is this magic you keep talking about? It’s the place and the time.
The right place and right time.
Iowa is the right place, and the time is right, too-a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens up for a few seconds, or hours, and shows you what is possible. And what do you see? What do you feel? Your mind stops, hangs suspended like a glowing Chinese lantern, and you feel a sensation of wonder, of awe, a tingling, a shortness of breath. . . And then? And then you not only see, but hear, and smell, and taste, and touch whatever is closest to your heart’s desire.
Your secret dreams that grow over the years like apple seeds sown in your belly, grow up through you in leafy wonder and finally sprout through your skin, gentle and soft and wondrous, and they breathe and have a life of their own. . . You’ve done this? A time or two. Is it always the same? It is and it isn’t.
The controlling fantasy is the same: the baseball stadium, the Chicago White Sox, Shoeless Joe Jackson.
But the experiences are different.
Baseball games are like snowflakes; no two are ever the same. It’s at this point that Salinger becomes a believer and joins Ray on his quest.
Though Kinsella doesn’t say so specifically, I feel sure that he means us to see Salinger’s response as coming from his sense of kinship with Ray-Ray’s enthusiastic account of his experience of his baseball imagination being essentially the same as Salinger’s own experience of his own literary imagination.
The two become one.
And it’s all, of course, W.
Kinsella’s experience of his own imagination, become ours too as we read this wonderful book. — HYPERLINK \l Essays: top IRWIN SHAW The Eighty-Yard Run he pass was high and wide and he jumped for it, feeling it slap flatly against his hands, as he shook his hips to throw off the halfback who was diving at him.
The center floated by, his hands desperately brushing Darling’s knee as Darling picked his feet up high and delicately ran over a blocker and an opposing linesman in a jumble on the ground near the scrimmage line.
He had ten yards in the clear and picked up speed, breathing easily, feeling his thigh pads rising and falling against his legs, listening to the sound of cleats behind him, pulling away from them, watching the other backs heading him off toward the sideline, the whole picture, the men closing in on him, the blockers fighting for position, the ground he had to cross, all suddenly clear in his head, for the first time in his life not a meaningless confusion of men, sounds, speed.
He smiled a little to himself as he ran, holding the ball lightly in front of him with his two hands, his knees pumping high, his hips twisting in the almost girlish run of a back in a broken field.
The first halfback came at him and he fed him his leg, then swung at the last moment, took the shock of the man’s shoulders without breaking stride, ran right through him, his cleats biting securely into the turf.
There was only the safety man now, coming warily at him, his arms crooked, hands spread.
Darling tucked the ball in, spurted at him, driving hard, hurling himself along, all two hundred pounds bunched into controlled attack.
He was sure he was going to get past the safety man.
Without thought, his arms and legs working beautifully together, he headed right for the safety man, stiff-armed him, feeling blood spurt instantaneously from the man’s nose onto his hand, seeing his face go awry, head turned, mouth pulled to one side.
He pivoted away, keeping the arm locked, dropping the safety man as he ran easily toward the goal line, with the drumming of cleats diminishing behind him. How long ago? It was autumn then, and the ground was getting hard because the nights were cold and leaves from the maples around the stadium blew across the practice fields in gusts of wind, and the girls were beginning to put polo coats over their sweaters when they came to watch practice in the afternoon. . . .
Darling walked slowly over the same ground in the spring twilight, in his neat shoes, a man of thirty-five dressed in a doublebreasted suit, ten pounds heavier in the fifteen years, but not fat, with the years between 1925 and 1940 showing in his face. The coach was smiling quietly to himself and the assistant coaches were looking at each other with pleasure the way they always did when one of the second stringers suddenly did something fine, bringing credit to them, making their $2,ooo a year a tiny bit more secure. Darling trotted back, smiling, breathing deeply but easily, feeling wonderful, not tired, though this was the tail end of practice and he’d run eighty yards.
The sweat poured off his face and soaked his jersey and he liked the feeling, the warm moistness lubricating his skin like oil.
Off in a comer of the field some players were punting and the smack of leather against the ball came pleasantly through the afternoon air.
The freshmen were running signals on the next field and the quarterback’s sharp voice, the pound of the eleven pairs of cleats, the Dig, now dig! of the coaches, the laughter of the players all somehow made him feel happy as he trotted back to midfield, listening to the applause and shouts of the students along the sidelines, knowing that after that run the coach would have to start him Saturday against Illinois. Fifteen years, Darling thought, remembering the shower after the workout, the hot water steaming off his skin and the deep soapsuds and all the young voices singing with the water streaming down and towels going and managers running in and out and the sharp sweet smell of oil of wintergreen and everybody clapping him on the back as he dressed and Packard, the captain, who took being captain very seriously, coming over to him and shaking his hand and saying, Darling, you’re going to go places in the next two years. The assistant manager fussed over him, wiping a cut on his leg with alcohol and iodine, the little sting making him realize suddenly how fresh and whole and solid his body felt.
The manager slapped a piece of adhesive tape over the cut, and Darling noticed the sharp clean white of the tape against the ruddiness of the skin, fresh from the shower. He dressed slowly, the softness of his shirt and the soft warmth of his wool socks and his flannel trousers a reward against his skin after the harsh pressure of the shoulder harness and thigh and hip pads.
He drank three glasses of cold water, the liquid reaching down coldly inside of him, soothing the harsh dry places in his throat and belly left by the sweat and running and shouting of practice. Fifteen years. The sun had gone down and the sky was green behind the stadium and he laughed quietly to himself as he looked at the stadium, rearing above the trees, and knew that on Saturday when the 70,000 voices roared as the team came running out onto the field, part of that enormous salute would be for him.
He walked slowly, listening to the gravel crunch satisfactorily under his shoes in the still twilight, feeling his clothes swing lightly against his skin, breathing the thin evening air, feeling the wind move softly in his damp hair, wonderfully cool behind his ears and at the nape of his,neck. Louise was waiting for him at the road, in her car.
The top was down and he noticed all over again, as he always did when he saw her, how pretty she was, the rough blonde hair and the large, inquiring eyes and the bright mouth, smiling now. She threw the door open. Were you good today? she asked. Pretty good, he said.
He climbed in, sank luxuriously into the soft leather, stretched his legs far out.
He smiled, thinking of the eighty yards. Pretty damn good. She looked at him seriously for a moment, then scrambled around, like a little girl, kneeling on the seat next to him, grabbed him, her hands along his ears, and kissed him as he sprawled, head back, on the seat cushion.
She let go of him, but kept her head close to his, over his.
Darling reached up slowly and rubbed the back of his hand against her cheek, lit softly by a street lamp a hundred feet away.
They looked at each other, smiling. Louise drove down to the lake and they sat there silently, watching the moon rise behind the hills on the other side.
Finally he reached over, pulled her gently to him, kissed her.
Her lips grew soft, her body sank into his, tears formed slowly in her eyes.
He knew, for the first time, that he could do whatever he wanted with her. Tonight, he said. I’ll call for you at seven-thirty.
Can you get out? She looked at him.
She was smiling, but the tears were still full in her eyes. All right, she said. I’ll get out.
How about you? Won’t the coach raise hell? Darling grinned. I got the coach in the palm of my hand, he said. Can you wait till seven-thirty? She grinned back at him. No, she said. They kissed and she started the car and they went back to town for dinner.
He sang on the way home. Christian Darling, thirty-five years old, sat on the frail spring grass, greener now than it ever would be again on the practice field, looked thoughtfully up at the stadium, a deserted ruin in the twilight.
He had started on the first team that Saturday and every Saturday after that for the next two years, but it had never been as satisfactory as it should have been.
He never had broken away, the longest run he’d ever made was thirty-five yards, and that in a game that was already won, and then that kid had come up from the third team, Diederich, a blank-faced German kid from Wisconsin, who ran like a bull, ripping lines to pieces Saturday after Saturday, plowing through, never getting hurt, never changing his expression, scoring more points, gaining more ground than all the rest of the team put together, making everybody’s AllAmerican, carrying the ball three times out of four, keeping everybody else out of the headlines.
Darling was a good blocker and he spent his Saturday afternoons working on the big Swedes and Polacks who played tackle and end for Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, hurling into huge pile-ups, bobbing his head wildly to elude the great raw hands swinging like meat-cleavers at him as he went charging in to open up holes for Diederich coming through like a locomotive behind him.
Still, it wasn’t so bad.
Everybody liked him and he did his job and he was pointed out on the campus and boys always felt important when they introduced their girls to him at their proms, and Louise loved him and watched him faithfully in the games, even in the mud, when your own mother wouldn’t know you, and drove him around in her car keeping the top down because she was proud of him and wanted to show everybody that she was Christian Darling’s girl.
She bought him crazy presents because her father was rich, watches, pipes, humidors, an icebox for beer for his room, curtains, wallets, a fifty-dollar dictionary. You’ll spend every cent your old man owns, Darling protested once when she showed up at his rooms with seven different packages in her arms and tossed them onto the couch. — Suits me. He threw his cigarette-end to the floor and, with a grimace of disappointment and disgust, made his way up the steps.
At the highest point he turned a last glance over the field, saw two players running and the rest standing around in deepening mist-nothing doing-so went on down towards the barriers.
When they were on the road a great cheer rose behind, as a whistle blew the signal for a mass rush to follow. Lamps were already lit along the road, and bus queues grew quickly in semidarkness.
Fastening up his mac Lennox hurried across the road.
Fred lagged behind, dodged a trolley-bus that sloped up to the pavement edge like a maneating monster and carried off a crowd of people to the city-centre with blue lights flickering from overhead wires. Well, Lennox said when they came close, after that little lot I only hope the wife’s got summat nice for my tea. I can think of more than that to hope for, Fred said. I’m not one to grumble about my grub. ‘Course, Lennox sneered, you’re living on love.
If you had Kit-E-Kat shoved in front of you you’d say it was a good dinner. They turned off by the recruiting centre into the heart of the Meadows, an ageing suburb of black houses and small factories. That’s what yo’ think, Fred retorted, slightly offended yet too full of hope to really mind. I’m just not one to grumble a lot about my snap, that’s all. It wouldn’t be any good if you was, Lennox rejoined, but the grub’s rotten these days, that’s the trouble.
Either frozen, or in tins.
The bread’s enough to choke yer. And so was the fog: weighed down by frost it lingeredand thickened, causing Fred to pull up his rain-mac collar.
A man who came level with them on the same side called out derisively: Did you ever see such a game? Never in all my born days, Fred replied. It’s always the same though, Lennox was glad to comment, the best players are never on the field.
I don’t know what they pay’em for. The man laughed at this sound logic. They’ll ‘appen get ‘em on nex’ wik.
That’ll show ‘em. Let’s hope so, Lennox called out as the man was lost in the fog. It ain’t a bad team, he added to Fred.
But that wasn’t what he was thinking.
He remembered how he had been up before the gaffer yesterday at the garage for clouting the mash-lad who had called him Cock-eye in front of the office-girl, and the manager said that if it happened again he would get his cards.
And now he wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t ask for them anyway.
He’d never lack a job, he told himself, knowing his own worth and the sureness of his instinct when dissecting piston from cylinder, camshaft and connecting-rod and searching among a thousand-and-one possible faults before setting an engine bursting once more with life.
A small boy called from the doorway of a house: What’s the score, mate? They lost, two-one, he said curtly, and heard a loud clear-sounding doorslam as the boy ran in with the news.
He walked with hands in pockets, and a cigarette at the corner of his mouth so that ash occasionally fell on to his mac.
The smell of fish-and-chips came from a well-lit shop, making him feel hungry. No pictures for me tonight, Fred was saying. I know the best place in weather like this. The Meadows were hollow with the clatter of boots behind them, the muttering of voices hot in discussion about the lost match.
Groups gathered at each corner, arguing and teasing any girl that passed, lighted gaslamps a weakening ally in the fog.
Lennox turned into an entry, where the cold damp smell of backyards mingled with that of dustbins.
They pushed open gates to their separate houses. So long.
See you tomorrow at the pub maybe. Not tomorrow, Fred answered, already at his back door. I’ll have a job on mending my bike.
I’m going to gi’ it a coat of enamel and fix in some new brake blocks.
I nearly got flattened by a bus the other day when they didn’t work. The gate-latch clattered. All right then, Lennox said, see you soon -opening the back door and going into his house. He walked through the small living-room without speaking, took off his mac in the parlour. You should mek a fire in there, he said, coming out. It smells musty.
No wonder the clo’es go to pieces inside six months. His wife sat by the fire knitting from two balls of electric-blue wool in her lap.
She was forty, the same age as Lennox, but gone to a plainness and discontented fat, while he had stayed thin and wiry from the same reason.
Three children, the eldest a girl of fourteen, were at the table finishing tea. Mrs.
Lennox went on knitting. I was going to make one today but I didn’t have time. Iris can mek one, ‘ Lennox said, sitting down at the table. The girl looked up. I haven’t finished my tea yet, our dad. The wheedling tone of her voice made him angry. Finish it later, he said with a threatening look. The fire needs making now, so come on, look sharp and get some coal from the cellar. She didn’t move, sat there with the obstinacy of the young spoiled by a mother.
Lennox stood up. Don’t let me have to tell you again. Tears came into her eyes. Go on, he shouted. Do as you’re told. He ignored his wife’s plea to stop picking on her and lifted his hand to settle her with a blow. All right, I’m going, Look -she got up and went to the cellar door.
So he sat down again, his eyes roaming over the well-set table before him, holding his hands tightly clenched beneath the cloth. What’s for tea, then? His wife looked up again from her knitting. There’s two kippers in the oven. He did not move, sat morosely fingering a knife and fork, Well? he demanded. Do I have to wait all night for a bit o’ summat teat? Quietly she took a plate from the oven and put it before him.
Two brown kippers lay steaming across it. One of these days, he said, pulling a long strip of white flesh from the bone, we’ll have a change. That’s the best I can do, she said, her deliberate patience no way to stop his grumbling-though she didn’t know what else would.
And the fact that he detected it made things worse. I’m sure it is, he retorted.
The coal bucket clattered from the parlour where the girl was making a fire.
Slowly, he picked his kippers to pieces without eating any.
The other two children sat on the sofa watching him, not daring to talk.
On one side of his plate he laid bones; on the other, flesh.
When the cat rubbed against his leg he dropped pieces of fish for it on to the lino, and when he considered that it had eaten enough he kicked it away with such force that its head knocked against the sideboard.
It leapt on to a chair and began to lick itself, looking at him with green surprised eyes. He gave one of the boys sixpence to fetch a Football Guardian. And be quick about it, he called after him.
He pushed his plate away, and nodded towards the mauled kippers. I don’t want this.
You’d better send somebody out for some pastries.
And mash some fresh tea, he added as an afterthought, that pot’s stewed. He had gone too far.
Why did he make Saturday afternoon such hell on earth? Anger throbbed violently in her temples.
Through the furious beating of her heart she cried out: If you want some pastries you’ll fetch ‘em yourself.
And you’ll mash your own tea as well.” — It’s pretty funny, I think, I said. That was some night.
That was the night after the varsity picnic at Lake Worth.
The spring before our junior season. Shake said. The night we scuttled Bobby Roy Simpson’s forty-footer. Barb said, You mean the night Bubba Littleton did. Well, Bubba did the work but I think it was our idea. Shake grinned.
Big Ed said, Wait a minute.
Somebody sank somebody’s boat that night? Shake said, It didn’t matter.
Bobby Roy Simpson was a rich kid who liked to hang around with the football studs.
He had several boats. Big Ed said, Well, I’ve got several boats myself but I’ll be goddamned if I want anybody sinkin’ ‘em. Barbara Jane laughed and looked at us. It didn’t matter, Daddy.
It really didn’t, she said. If you had known Bobby Roy Simpson, you would have sunk his boat with him in it. Big Ed said it still didn’t seem right, somehow.
A man’s boat and all.
A private property deal. Shake said, I don’t remember why we thought it would be all right to bring the girls back to Tom Brown Hall.
It seemed like the thing to do, though. I said, Wasn’t that the same night that Bubba Littleton tore the pay phone out of the wall? Sure was, said Barbara Jane. And threw the Coke machine down two flights of stairs.
Double-header. Shake said, Well, you know why he was so hot? Me and Barb broke up.
We knew. Bubba Littleton was hot because Honey Jean Lester had caught him that afternoon flogging it underneath the dock as I have mentioned earlier. I don’t see how any human being who’s white could do things like that, Big Ed said. He was just mad at his date about something, I said. Well, Bubba Littleton wasn’t a good enough football player at TCU to get away with things like that, Big Ed said. Destroying property is what chinks and Commies want. He was a pretty mean tackle, Shake said. He’d hit somebody. I said, He was about half-mean all the way around. Shake said, How about those poor Aggies? I wished Shake hadn’t said that just when I had my young stinger up to my face.
I nearly spit in it from laughing. On a Friday night in Fort Worth one time before a game we had against Texas A&M, Bubba Littleton went downtown to a pep rally the Aggie cadet corps was having because he wanted to get him some Aggies as captives, for a joke. I never knew any other TCU man who would go around an Aggie rally by himself.
But Bubba of course could go anywhere he wanted to.
He used to go look up truck drivers and try to get them to fight him to see who bought the beer. Anyhow, Bubba went downtown and got him four Aggie cadets and brought them back to his dorm room.
The first thing he did was shave off all of their hair, what little they had, being Aggie cadets.
Then he made them get naked and shave all the hair off of each other’s bodies and vital parts. They were just scrawny little old Aggies whose daddies had made them go there in the first place, to Texas A&M, I mean, which is kind of like going to Sing Sing.
So they couldn’t do anything except what Bubba Littleton wanted them to do, not unless they wanted to get an arm broke. The next thing Bubba did was take some purple paint-purple is TCU’s color-and make the Aggies stand at attention while he painted something on each one’s chest.
What he painted so that you could read it when they stood in a certain order was: AGGIES …
RURAL. Bubba finally let the poor souls go after they sang the TCU fight song to his satisfaction, and after they had a beat-off contest. We carried on a little more with Big Ed and Big Barb about our growing-up days. Big Ed said that one of the things which pleased him the most is that me and Shake and Barbara Jane had never needed any of his money. Like all rich guys, Big Ed said he didn’t have a whole lot of money but that he had managed to keep some from the government.
And he said it was always there if any of us ever needed it for something important. — Barbara Jane howled. I don’t want to talk about that kind of thing, said Big Ed. I know everybody has different ideas these days.
I just don’t give one goddamn how many transplant cases are walking around healthy.
They’re supposed to be dead, like God wanted ‘em to be. Shake said, Damn right.
If God wanted a man to have two hearts, he’d have given him two hearts.
If God had wanted a man to drink more, he’d have given him two mouths. Big Ed said, Go ahead and be funny about it.
But I’ll tell you this, Eightyeight.
You go out and get yourself a nigger’s heart and then we’ll see how many footballs you catch on Sunday. Can you believe it? said Barbara Jane, looking at us. Big Ed said we’d do well to listen to him.
He said he guessed he would have to educate us, once and for all.
Why in the hell did we think Barbara Jane was such a beautiful and great girl? Why was that? He said, well, he would explain it to us.
By God, it was because she was a thoroughbred, he said.
She came from good stock.
And don’t think that didn’t mean plenty, he said. Big Ed said that God wasn’t so dumb that he didn’t know there had to be a few people around in history to see that the world ran right. He said that God tried to turn it all over to mankind once and it just didn’t work.
A whole goddamn bunch of chinks and niggers got born, along with a whole lot of spicks and Mongol hordes.
That pissed God off, he said.
So God took over again and God’s been trying to straighten it out ever since, without ruining his image. He said God would sneak a tidal wave in every now and then, or an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption, and then a few wars, to get rid of several million undesirables outside of America. It’s a slow process, Big Ed said, because it got so far out of hand, and God has to be careful and do it slowly, and not make everybody so hot they won’t like God any more. Now then, he said, sipping on his stinger. While all of this has been going on, God has allowed some carefully selected people he could trust to get born and take rich and be able to run things. These are people, he said, like all of the great rulers and businessmen of history.
Well, he said, they’re people like the Murchisons and Hunts were, or like some corporation presidents he had known, and some generals, and himself. The Bookmans, he said, went back a long way.
God sent the first Bookman over on the Mayflower to help get America started off right.
The reason, he said, was because God knew that America would be able to get the rest of the world to shape up.
Like today. The Bookmans, he said, distinguished themselves in all of the wars, including his own self in World War II, which none of us could much remember, he guessed.
The big war, where we kicked the shit out of those that had it coming, and did it right. He said that God obviously didn’t want him to get killed in that war, basically because he had some big money to earn and some jobs to provide later on, and that’s why God had given him the intelligence and the aristocracy to go into the army as a colonel at the age of twenty. He said God knew what he was doing when he worked it out that Big Ed got to stay in Washington, D.C., throughout the big war and help out with many of the important decisions that were made about who to kill next.
Now then, Big Ed said again. One of the wonderful things that came out of him being preserved and not killed, as God had shown the good sense to do, was that he got to meet Big Barb in college when they were at the University of Texas, after the big war.
Big Barb had come from a fine family herself, he said.
The Huckabees from Waco, he said. And out of this union had come Barbara Jane, he said, with her hair of streaked butterscotch, her deep brown eyes, her olive complexion, her splendid cheekbones, her full lips, her perfect teeth, her big bright smile and her keen mind and, according to her mother, her flawless carriage and good taste and her incredible body. It took a lot of Bookmans to produce that, said Big Ed in conclusion. And one hell of a lot of earthquakes, said Barbara Jane. HYPERLINK \l Essays: top DONALD BARTHELME The Wound He sits up again.
He makes a wild grab for his mother’s hair.
The hair of his mother! But she neatly avoids him.
The cook enters with the roast beef.
The mother of the torero tastes the sauce, which is presented separately, in a silver dish.
She makes a face.
The torero, ignoring the roast beef, takes the silver dish from his mother and sips from it, meanwhile maintaining intense eye contact with his mistress.
The torero’s mistress hands the camera to the torero’s mother and reaches for the silver dish. What is all this nonsense with the dish? asks the famous aficionado who is sitting by the bedside.
The torero offers the aficionado a slice of beef, carved from the roast with a sword, of which there are perhaps a dozen on the bed. These fellows with their swords, they think they’re so fine, says one of the imbeciles to another, quietly.
The second imbecil says, We would all think ourselves fine if we could.
But we can’t.
Something prevents us. — They ain’t nothin’ else for the umpire to do, so he calls, Ball three! Everybody is onto their feet, hoopin’ and hollerin’, as the pitcher sets to throw ball four.
Louis manager is makin’ signs and faces like he was a contorturer, and the infield is givin’ the pitcher some more advice about what to do this time.
Our boys who was on base stick right onto the bag, runnin’ no risk of bein’ nipped for the last out. Well, the pitcher decides to give him a toss again, seein’ he come closer with that than with a fast ball.
They ain’t nobody ever seen a slower ball throwed.
It come in big as a balloon and slower’n any ball ever throwed before in the major leagues.
It come right in over the plate in front of Pearl’s chest, lookin’ prob’ly big as a full moon to Pearl.
They ain’t never been a minute like the minute that followed since the United States was founded by the Pilgrim grandfathers. Pearl du Monville took a cut at that ball, and he hit it! \Iagrew give a groan like a poleaved steer as the ball rolls out in front a the plate into fair territory. Fair ball! yells the umpire, and the midget starts runnin’ for first, still carryin’ that little bat, and makin’ maybe ninety foot an hour.
Bethlehem breaks loose on that ball field and in them stands.
They ain’t never been nothin’ like it since creation was begun. The ball’s rollin’ slow, on down towards third, goin’ maybe eight, ten, foot.
The infield comes in fast and our boys break from their bases like hares in a brush fire.
Everybody is standin’ up, yellin’ and hollerin’, and Magrew is tearin’ his hair outa his head, and the midget is scamperin’ for first with all the speed of one of them little dashhounds carryin’ a satchel in his mouth. The ketcher gets to the ball first, but he boots it on out past the pitcher’s box, the pitcher fallin’ on his face tryin’ to stop it, the shortstop sprawlin’ after it full length and zaggin’ it on over towards the second baseman, whilst Muller is scorin’ with the tyin’ run and Loesing is roundin’ third with the winnin’ run.
Ty Cobb could a made a three-bagger outa that bunt, with everybody fallin’ over theirself tryin’ to pick the ball up.
But Pearl is still maybe fifteen, twenty feet from the bag, toddlin’ like a baby and yeepin’ like a trapped rabbit, when the second baseman finely gets a holt of that ball and slams it over to first.
The first baseman ketches it and stomps on the bag, the base umpire waves Pearl out, and there goes your old ball game, the craziest ball game ever played in the history of the organized world. Their players start runnin’ in, and then I see Magrew.
He starts after Pearl, runnin’ faster’n any man ever run before.
Pearl sees him comin’ and runs behind the base umpire’s legs and gets a holt onto ‘em.
Magrew comes up, pantin’ and roarin’, and him and the midget plays ring-around-a-rosy with the umpire, who keeps shovin’ at Magrew with one hand and tryin’ to slap the midget loose from his legs with the other. Finely Magrew ketches the midget, who is still yeepin’ like a stuck sheep.
He gets holt of that little guy by both his ankles and starts whirlin’ him round and round his head like Magrew was a hammer thrower and Pearl was the hammer.
Nobody can stop him without gettin’ their head knocked off, so everybody just stands there and yells.
Then Magrew lets the midget fly.
He flies on out towards second, high and fast, like a human home run, headed for the soap sign in center field. Their shortstop tries to get to him, but he can’t make it, and I knowed the little fella was goin’ to bust to pieces like a dollar watch on a asphalt street when he hit the ground.
But it so happens their center fielder is just crossin’ second, and he starts runnin’ back, tryin’ to get under the midget, who had took to spiralin’ like a football ‘stead of turnin’ head over foot, which give him more speed and more distance. I know you never seen a midget ketched, and you prob’ly never even seen one throwed.
To ketch a midget that’s been throwed by a heavy-muscled man and is flyin’ through the air, you got to run under him and with him and pull your hands and arms back and down when you ketch him, to break the compact of his body, or you’ll bust him in two like a matchstick.
I seen Bill Lange and Willie Keeler and Tris Speaker make some wonderful ketches in my day, but I never seen nothin’ like that center fielder.
He goes back and back and still further back and he pulls that midget down outa the air like he was liftin’ a sleepin’ baby from a cradle.
They wasn’t a bruise onto him, only his face was the color of cat’s meat and he ain’t got no air in his chest.
In his excitement, the base umpire, who was runnin’ back with the center fielder when he ketched Pearl, yells, Out! and that give hysteries to the Bethlehem which was ragin’ like Niagry on that ball field. Everybody was hoopin’ and hollerin’ and yellin’ and runnin’, with the fans swarmin’ onto the field, and the cops tryin’ to keep order, and some guys laughin’ and some of the women fans cryin’, and six or eight of us holdin’ onto Magrew to keep him from gettin’ at that midget and finishin’ him off.
Some of the fans picks up the St.
Louis pitcher and the center fielder, and starts carryin’ ‘em around on their shoulders, and they was the craziest goin’s-on knowed to the history of organized ball on this side of the ‘Lantic Ocean. I seen Pearl du Monville strugglin’ in the arms of a lady fan with a ample bosom, who was laughin’ and cryin’ at the same time, and him beatin’ at her with his little fists and bawlin’ and yellin’.
He clawed his way loose finely and disappeared in the forest of legs which made that ball field like it was Coney Island on a hot summer’s day. That was the last I ever seen of Pearl du Monville.
I never seen hide nor hair of him from that day to this, and neither did nobody else.
He just vanished into the thin of the air, as the fella says.
He was ketched for the final out of the ball game and that was the end of him, just like it was the end of the ball game, you might say, and also the end of our losin’ streak, like I’m goin’ to tell you. That night we piled onto a train for Chicago, but we wasn’t snarlin’ and snappin’ any more.
No sir, the ice was finely broke and a new spirit come into that ball club.
The old zip come back with the disappearance of Pearl du Monville out back a second base.
We got to laughin’ and talkin’ and kiddin’ together, and ‘fore long Magrew was laughin’ with us.
He got a human look onto his pan again, and he quit whinin’ and complainin’ and wishtin’ he was in heaven with the angels. Well, sir, we wiped up that Chicago series, winnin’ all four games, and makin’ seventeen hits in one of ‘em.
Funny thing was, St.
Louis was so shook up by that last game with us, they never did hit their stride again.
Their center fielder took to misjudgin’ everything that come his way, and the rest a the fellas followed suit, the way a club’ll do when one guy blows up. ‘Fore we left Chicago, I and some of the fellas went out and bought a pair of them little baby shoes, which we had ‘em golded over and give ‘em to Magrew for a souvenir, and he took it all in good spirit.
Whitey Cott and Billy Klinger made up and was fast friends again, and we hit our home lot like a ton of dynamite and they was nothin’ could stop us from then on. I don’t recollect things as clear as I did thirty, forty, years ago.
I can’t read no fine print no more, and the only person I got to check with on the golden days of the national pastime, as the fella says, is my friend, old Milt Kline, over in Springfield, and his mind ain’t as strong as it once was. He gets Rube Waddell mixed up with Rube Marquad, for one thing, and anybody does that oughta be put away where he won’t bother nobody.
So I can’t tell you the exact margin we win the pennant by.
Maybe it was two and a half games, or maybe it was three and a half.
But it’ll all be there in the newspapers and record books of thirty, thirty-one year ago and, like I was sayin’, you could look it up.
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Horses-Store.com - Well said Joe Bean theys one thing about cadding for these dames, it keeps you out of the hot sun
Horses-Store.com - Well said Joe Bean theys one thing about cadding for these dames, it keeps you out of the hot sun