Dearly Beloved loves watching the World Series and this one has been a doozy. He wishes the games would start a bit earlier (alas, the TV gods rule!) so that the grandsons could see more of them, not to mention that their granddad has difficulty staying awake in those extra innings.
When the grandsons were younger and visited us during the summer, they loved climbing into our bed at night, their blond heads on Dearly Beloved’s outstretched arms, and watching televised ball games with him. Depending on which daughter’s boys were here, that meant thirty or forty toes lined up at the foot of the bed.
DB asked that I go in occasionally and check to see if his nose needed scratching, since his arms were weighed down in pillow duties. It was quite a picture. The grandsons learned much about the strategies and rules of baseball, asking “Gwanddad” to explain whatever they didn’t understand.
When, a few years ago, NPR had one of their 3-Minute Fiction contests, it had to have this beginning sentence: The nurse left work at 5 o’clock. DB sat down and churned out an entry in about 30 minutes. Were he a faster typist, he would have finished even sooner. Were he a savvier computer person, he would have kept a copy instead of writing it directly on the form.
Months later, he sat down and pecked it out it again and was dismayed that this version was 100 words short of his original entry. The missing words, he told me, were the ones that danced. Nevertheless, he shared it with the grandsons. While NPR hadn’t found it to be a winner, the grandsons did. Of course they did. It was obvious that he’d really written it for them. It was, he told them, “a story of true fiction.” Wrap your brain around that one.
Here is DB’s tale:
There they were, in the parking lot, the Idaho State Little League Champions.
The nurse had heard they were coming to visit the children’s ward. She would have liked for them to visit all the wards, but this was probably better.
It was 1955 and baseball was popular everywhere. Idaho was no exception. In 1954, the New York Giants had swept the Cleveland Indians in four games with Willie Mays’ famous over his head catch of Vic Wertz’s deep drive to center field being a key moment.
The nurse was watching the boys scramble out of the cars when the last one let out a big yell. He had slammed the door on his fingers. She rushed him into the ER and it was quickly determined his left index finger was broken. The boy was distraught, not at the pain, but at the prospect of not playing in the Regional Playoffs which started in two days. The doctor put a splint on his finger and said the boy could probably play if he could handle the pain. The boy grabbed a broom and exclaimed, “I can swing it!” Putting his finger in a baseball glove was a different matter. The nurse suggested he leave his broken finger on the outside of the glove. He tried it and grinned broadly.
Idaho won the Regional Playoffs. The Boise paper carried a picture on the front page that was picked up by the national wire services. The picture was taken from the center field bleachers and showed the Idaho center fielder in full stride making a sensational over his head catch. His left index finger was wrapped in white tape outside his glove. Little Leaguers across the country saw the picture. Some of them later played and coached professionally.
And that’s the story why baseball players all around the world play with their index fingers outside their gloves.
Speaking of grandsons, it’s #2 Grandson’s birthday. He has never met a sport he didn’t love or a homework assignment he did. Happy Birthday, Car Spaghetti!