Nine Innings and You’re Out


Spring training was almost done
and spring itself not yet sprung
when we departed Scottsdale
for the short ride to Phoenix,
pausing to board a Boston lady
dabbing tears about exchanging  
“this lovely warm desert climate”
for the wintry chill of Beantown
and leaving our “sweet little company” 
of major league fans who comforted her
with respect for her cherished Red Sox.
We enlivened our getaway  
with a loud game of baseball trivia,
citing the fine points of Mays and Mantle, 
the questionable aristocracy of Duke Snider
and the extrasensory talent of Joey D.
who seemed to know exactly
where the ball was coming
or going before the ball did.
“They don’t make baseball heroes   
like they used to—modest men 
who played for modest salaries
and kept a cool professionalism
about the game and themselves—“
Maxie summed up the game’s Golden Age
when all the original rules were still in place
and the leisurely pace of the game was intact.
“Or it all just nostalgia for our lost youth?”
a skeptic wondered aloud 
when our driver suddenly shouted
“Hey, folks! Look right over there!”
at some repository or depository 
of human remains, “That’s where
they’re keeping Ted Williams!”
“Keeping him under lock and key?”
“Is he being treated for senility?” 
“Is he still alive?”
“Or is it just a guy named Williams?”
“Can I get an autograph?”
The questions flowed
until someone said the Red Sox icon
was being preserved for the future
in not one, but two steel containers
of liquid nitrogen, at 320 degrees below,
awaiting an uncertain resurrection.
Was it pure science fiction 
or half-true Frankenscience?
Wad it tourist baloney about
cryonics specialists insisting 
on pursuing the elusive formula
for reanimating the illustrious dead?
Was Teddy Ballgame actually
waiting in the on-deck circle
since 2002 to return to life?
According to Josh, It all depended
on retrieving or repairing the head of Ted
that had been lost or bungled,
leaving The Splendid Splinter
awaiting first-aid or a miracle
to complete revival of his old self.
“They say they’ll fix whatever needs fixing,”
 Josh said, “but I can only guess how. 
“Maybe utilizing DNA replication and extrapolation,
and reinvigorated blood cells—“
“A dash of secret sauce and a pinch of pepper!”
someone shouted.
“And a beer or two to welcome rebirth!” 
“It does make you wonder,” Leon said.
“Nothing seems impossible any more.
It’s as if science can make anything happen,
given big money backers and public demand
for more and more longevity. Could be 
Ted isn’t alone in the quest for eternal life.”
“Do you mean to say we could have
our own Teddy Ballgame where he belongs,
back at Fenway?” asked the Boston lady
who asked us to call her Beanie
(her hometown-flavored nickname).
“Complete from cap to cleats?
“Can you imagine anything so wonderful—
Omigod! The Splendid Splinter reassembled!”
“With all his working parts and pieces intact?”
I asked doubtfully.
“You betcha! Can you imagine him
back in business, making the pitchers
doubly nervous by his presence, 
refusing as always to be tempted
by a pitch a little too low 
or an inch outside the strike zone,
knowing exactly what he needs
to draw a walk or make contact?”
“Even the umps conceded his mastery
and made allowance in their calls,”
our driver commented.   
“You don’t seriously believe they’d do that
and compromise their authority?”
 I challenged the notion.
“They certainly would for a 400 hitter
He was the last man to do it.”
“And now the first to be reborn?
Didn’t a guy named Lazarus beat him to it?”
“He wasn’t a ballplayer,”
Chuck made the distinction.
“And tell you what, I heard a preacher say
when Lazarus came out of his tomb,
baffled, blinking and rubbing his eyes,
and seeing the world he’d departed,
he turned right around, retraced his steps 
and embraced the comfort of oblivion.”
“Where did the preacher get that from? 
The Gospel of invisible ink?”
Scottsdale and the resurrection
had disappeared in the rear-view mirror,
but some wouldn’t let it go.
“Well, hell’s bells!”
the skeptic summed up. 
“That’s the story of life, isn’t it, kids?
“Nine innings and you’re out.”
“Unless you go extra innings,” Suzie said.
“Not a bad idea. I think I’ll sign up
for the deep freeze and see what life is like
four or five hundred years from now
when and if I wake up.
How much will it cost me?”
“I think I’m going to cry,”
said Ms. Beanie from Boston,
sensing that her beloved Ted
might be doomed to languish
everlastingly in liquid nitrogen
while the secret formula remained
as elusive as a fly ball in a windstorm.
 “Excuse me, Beatrice,” said Beanie’s partner,
 “don’t you know there’s no crying in baseball?”
“And no crying about cryonics,” I said,
handing the weeping woman
my MLB souvenir hankie
adorned with the smiling face of The Babe
to calm her nerves, but setting off
a wailing response to the unforgivable sin
of Boston trading The Babe to the Yankees.

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One Comment

  • This is almost a sci-fi narrative with a little bit of baseball. It is fascinating that all these celebrities can access scientific advancement at their fingertips. I never knew this baseball star was preserved. Overall it was really humourous and filled with interesting references that were fun to research.

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