July 20, 2014
So anyway, the Island Limpets faced off against their archrivals, the Babylon Stompers this week at Willie Stargell Field, and there was some hope among the faithful that the game would not be quite so dismal as historically recorded, due to being held this year on hometown turf.
The Limpets have not won a game against the Babylon team since the memorable game that took place in August of 1916 when the great Cable Car strike decimated the opposing team, when Babylon members went off to combat the workers on the line in the City, taking away all the team-members who knew a thing or two about handling a bat or similar weapon. The score for that game had ended up 9 to zip in favor of the home team and the Limpets had not won a single game since then.
In any case, old guard Islanders filed into their seats and made ready with overpriced hot dogs and bad lukewarm beer sold from the concession and their purple Limpets Roar fundraiser mugs and sat with every expectation that perhaps, this year, things would be different as they watched their team trot out onto the field with their patched uniforms, their hand-me-down gloves passed on from father to son or via donations from devoted fans, their well-worn caps and their scarred bat bags filled with American hickory and it was almost 1916 again with the sun golden on the drought-sere stubble that lined the backstop area and the undulating hills beyond you could see from the very top of the sea-green stands.
As a stadium it did not match anything like Pac Bell Park over in Babylon, but here in this arena great deeds had been done by Olympians the world shall not see again. It was hear that the great Babe Ruth had come to smack a homer so far above the fence and out of the park that nobody ever found the ball save for Mrs. Agendath who discovered this ripped up hardball among her mustard greens several months and several miles away.
Indeed, in baseball, of all the sports, there is no Time.
There is no time out, no pause from the referee in baseball. The game lasts nine innings and as long as it takes nine innings, so lasts the game.
Right from the beginning, when Flannery pitched a low inside that the Babylon leftie Barthes knocked out of the park that they were in trouble. First, Arnold, then Pater, then Ruskin landed singles, leaving it to Hulme to send it all home for a score of 3 to zip.
With Hulme on third, Babbit snagged a double as Shelly bobbled and Eliot dribbled.
With two up, Edmund Wilson loaded the bases when shortstop "Papa Hem" managed to capture the pop fly from Ken Burke. Billy Faulkner collided with John Crowe Ransome on a line drive from Northrop Frye, leaving third baseman Vidal to tag out Mailer in a rare athletic pivot and deft move before finally ending the rout at 7-0 in a hardball to second baseman Alcott.
The players boiled out of the dugouts with Coach Wimsatt Beardsley shouting, "That was intentional!" and Coach Wilde shouting, "That's fallacious and a lie!"
Thus ended the first inning and all the experienced veterans from the Limpets side proceeded to get very drunk on whiskey flasks, knowing how things would proceed from there on out.
From the very beginning the Crushers had danced onto the field with their very own hired DJ, all sporting spiffy new uniforms, brand new well oiled gloves and equipment provided gratis by loyal sponsors. Victory was theirs by right and birth and they had only arrived to claim their documents pro forma.
Their ballboy was named Roland Barthes and his family came from good people with pots of money invested in solid offshore investments. And everything they did glittered with grand success.
It was late into the Ninth, with the score something so abysmal that recording the stats caused faint hearted individuals to swoon and fade away, when the Limpits and the visitors awoke from dreamy somnolence to discover all bases loaded, Cather on first, London on second, and Crane on third with Stein up to bat.
The Crushers so wanted to make this evening a total shutout. Everyone knew the game was rigged and their victory assured and delivered by all the usual parties, but securing a shutout, well that would certainly prove something of their superiority. Of course they would win -- they had paid handsomely for that. Everybody knew it and because everybody knew it, victory was yet a bittersweet thing. But the shutout, that was another story. That became a matter of pride, and pride for folks like the Crushers and their people, that was an all-encompassing thing. It had to prove they had won not because they had paid for the game from the get go but because they were by nature, superior, better, deserving of all they got.
In the late afternoon, with the sun setting behind the hills, with the score abysmal and the count two for two, the pitcher, Poulet, accidentally tossed a lofting and dropping lob into the strikezone with Miles Ni'Gopaleen substituting for Clemons at the last moment. Before the pitch, Miles approached the batting area, took a swig from a flask in his hip pocket, and swung his Louisville slugger a few times.
Poulet kicked the dirt, pretended indifference, then snapped around as Crane scampered back from the midline to Second.
Poulet glared under his cap and Crane did a little dance beside the sack.
During this opera, Miles looked up into the stands where his fiancee, the girl of his dreams sat way up there in the throng with her pillbox hat and widows weeds, the sweet Anais Nin.
Time to focus and Miles stepped into the square in the bottom of the ninth and the count two for two, one single out standing between the Limpits and the dreadful shame of a shutout.
Poulet took his time, wound up and flubbed the pitch, intended to be a hard inside fastball. Instead the thing came from his hands with all the lethargic impulse of a felt foosball.
The ball lofted in and the bat swung and the crack of bat echoed down through over one hundred years of disappointments as the little round thing rebounded high, high, high into the sky of the summer of Supermoons as the crowd stood and roared, all craning their necks to watch this sphere arising, becoming in the history and legacy of baseball and the Island another moon unto itself, for the outfield's eyes diminishing into a pinprick in the high heavens, vanishing into story and myth and yet becoming permanent as the ball arced higher and higher into the blue heavens going black as hours passed, traveling through time and space and becoming one with Voyager, also pursuing outward a trajectory of timelessness, a journey with no ending in search of something beyond the planetary system we call home.
For what would one send an emissary, any sort of object outbound on a steadily ascending trajectory, but some indication, some sign in return that somewhere in the vast cosmos, in the vastness of timelessness, in the game without Time, some other who exists who may respond with quiet emanations, like a distant planet or a girl in a pillbox hat, "I am here. I feel the same". Every batter's effort condenses the same effort as every launch into the thing called space.
In search of something called "Love".
The rest is history.
From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, and the moon-lit sandlots of age-old sandlot games, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the field of dreams to parts unknown under the immense Supermoon.
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