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He hit. They went away across the pasture. I held to the fence and watched them going away. The Sound and the Fury
Pittsburgh Pirate Day 1971 at Wingfield Pines Golf Club was a win within a loss. A car steered a handful of Little Leaguers away from the Big Leaguers, the Bucs (from buccaneers), who would single out 1971 in the lives of their fans by fielding the first all-minority lineup in the majors and winning the Fall Classic. Before meeting our idols, who played golf, swam, drank, smoked, ate, preened, discussed business and signed autographs, some of the mighty Rocks (yes, our team was named the Rocks) had been forced by our parents to visit with patients of Mayview State Hospital adjoining Wingfield Pines. May, a patient with a transistor radio, stood out for her love of baseball and powers of observation and mimicry. May’s broadcasting style was eccentric, a different eccentricity from Bob Prince, the Voice of the Pirates who was also present at Wingfield Pines on the balmy afternoon. Her July Classic, perplexing to most of the Rocks, was not conveyed with the subdued reverence of a golf announcer either. Upon hearing about Pirate Day, May led us there.
Pirate Day was our reward for the regular season. In the spring, before our first practice, Cramer’s Dad told him not to get a swollen head. He had to ask what a swollen head meant. His Mom laughed when our manager came to his house with a catcher’s cup. He also brought new shin guards because Cramer’s Dad had refused to buy them. Moms were not happy about ironing the letters for our names on the backs of our shirts. The Rocks had the first aluminum bat in the league; called “that damn pig iron” by some Dads, it was used until badly dented. The Rocks did situational drills like the Pirates. Runners on first and third, one out, fly ball to right: What did you do? What the Bucs did. Situation: One of our pitchers had no control. What did you do? By hitting the first three or four batters, you rattled the opposition enough for the next three guys to strike out. Situation: The signal to “take” a pitch was when our third-base coach, Cramer’s Dad, tapped his pipe on his shoe. What did you do when he said a new sign has to be invented because he can’t afford to waste good tobacco every inning? You started a tobacco kitty. The Rocks lost the championship game 7-6. My brother bunted with the bases loaded, scoring three runs, but they were called back because he had stepped on home plate. Cramer’s Dad was so angry about the call that he slammed his pipe to the ground, breaking it. For the big game, a center fielder was added to our line-up who wasn’t on our team during the regular season. Some Rocks had mixed emotions about the ethics of the strategy, and it meant that Byron, the manager’s son, didn’t play as many innings as he normally would have, but Byron didn’t seem to mind.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are used in a fictitious manner.
Faulkner, William, The Sound and the Fury (1929)
Kaplan, Bert (ed.), The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First-Person Accounts of What It Was Like (1964)
Sass, Louis A., Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought (1992)
In memory of Roberto Clemente (1973†)