Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Legend of Lefty

Soon it will be time to go to the local ballpark again with my friends Rollie, Gary and Dan.

The four of us have been going there for many years now, usually sitting past the first-base line.

And we've made so many trips to the park together that certain traditions have been established. For example, it wouldn't be a true seventh-inning stretch if Gary and Dan didn't spend it deconstructing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." ("Whaddya mean, 'Take me out to the ball game'? We're already here!")

And we often remember one early season game, in either April or May, where a bunch of would-be macho but meteorologically challenged teenagers showed up wearing shorts, only to wind up pretending they weren't freezing their alleged buns of steel off after the sun went down.

But one of our most cherished traditions is remembering Lefty.

And to be fair, the title of this posting might not be completely accurate. For Lefty, as we have since called him (never knew his real name), did in fact exist, and probably still does, somewhere, though I probably wouldn't recognize him if I fell over him, and that's a pastime I don't intend to take up any time soon.

Anyway, Lefty and his girlfriend came to a game and sat a few stands away from us.

I don't know how long the two of them had been going together, but apparently Lefty thought it would verily impress her if a ball were hit into the stands and he caught it.

I of course don't know whether Lefty came to the ballpark planning to do this, or whether it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, the spur being a ball that was hit right toward him.

In any event, Lefty apparently never stopped to consider the difference between the gentleness of a fly ball descending into two cupped, conveniently placed hands and the abruptness (maybe that's putting it mildly) of a line drive.

So that when the line drive was indeed hit in their direction, Lefty reached out, and the ball made contact with his hand (and that for damn sure IS putting it mildly) before dropping into a lower row and into the hands of a fan who in high school probably had higher marks than Lefty in physics class.

Did all this embarrass Lefty in front of his girlfriend? Quite possibly, but if so, that was the least of his problems.

For he now had to spend the rest of the game pretending that his hand didn't hurt like a son of a you-know-what. Kind of reminded me of that "Dick Van Dyke Show" episode where Rob has to pretend to Laura that he doesn't have the flu, and he has to stifle a sneeze with a grimace that he is somehow able to turn into a tortured smile.

Pity poor Lefty. I'm sure he wished he were anywhere else in the world than that ballpark -- even on the deck of the Titanic, where, with the band playing its last song and all the available lifeboats already lowered, he could at least have taken solace in the knowledge that nearby was the one piece of ice that was big enough to ease the pain and swelling.

We occasionally look for Lefty when we go to the ballpark, though we really don't expect to find him. Some weeks ago, Gary, Dan and I went to a basketball game, and for all I know he might have been somewhere in the stands, maybe with the same girlfriend, engaging in the following dialogue:

She says, "Honey, why don't we go to baseball games anymore?"

"Aw, baseball is such a slow sport," he replies as he raises his left arm and self-consciously tries to adjust his comb-over with what looks like a leg of lamb.

1 comment:

Brian Cubbison said...

How come no one ever plays the first verse of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"?