Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I played Kellogg-Wallace American Legion baseball with a guy named John Lund. I don't know why, but our nickname for him was Nifty.
Nifty was a pitcher and a pretty decent one. But, for some reason, some of us on the team were assholes and picked on Nifty quite a bit.
In early 1970's baseball parlance, a pitcher with a good fastball threw seeds. The pitch came so fast to the batter it looked small as a seed. Another way of putting it was to say the pitcher threw aspirins.
Our team travelled at one point in the 1972 season to Cashmere, Washington to play. Cashmere was entertaining. They had a home umpire who had these eight-year-old twins with thick glasses act as ball boys and bat boys. He called them Goggles 1 and Goggles 2. He wasn't mean to them, and his act barking out orders to Goggles 1 and Goggles 2 to go retrieve foul balls and get bats out the way was really funny.
If the Goggles 1 and Goggles 2 act was a carnival, our bench during the Cashmere double header was a circus. We were giddy. Cashmere had a lousy team and we beat them handily in the first game of a double header and were pasting them again in game two.
Nifty was pitching in game two. He was doing fine and we were winning. For some reason, I started razzing Nifty about his fastball's lack of speed. I began telling him he was throwing cantaloupes (instead of seeds). Nifty retired the Cashmere side. We came back to the bench. I decided cantaloupes were too small to describe his fastball. I ribbed him about throwing watermelons.
He started to get pissed. Nifty had had enough and asked me why I didn't shove a baseball in my big mouth.
I was playing centerfield against Cashmere that afternoon. As fate would have it, when Cashmere came to bat in the bottom of the inning after Nifty got pissed at me, a Chashmere batter, with no runners on base, lifted a lazy fly to center field.
I camped under it, made the catch, and delayed the game when I popped the baseball in my mouth and trotted to the pitcher's mound, and when I got to the rubber, took the ball out of my mouth, and dropped it in Nifty's glove.
Trotting to the pitcher's mound with a baseball in my mouth was a hot dog, asshole thing to do. But, it broke the tension between me and Nifty. He uttered some little nicety to me like, "You prick" or "Fuck you, man", but he spat the profanity while laughing. The tension was broken.
I didn't know that such a showboat move would actually be an act of peacemaking. I was just trying to get a laugh. I did get a laugh. The whole infield, our catcher, and Nifty were all cracking up.
Our coach wasn't that amused. My dad chewed me out after the game.
But, I never felt that bad. Nifty had told me to shove a ball in my mouth. I did. Nifty and I got along better after that, and, later when he got hammered in another game, I was able to get on his case about throwing watermelons to our opposition, and he acted pissed, but, underneath, he was laughing. He knew that even Goggles 1 and Goggles 2 could have hit his fastball.
Poured Like an Anode by raymond pert at 9:29 PM