You Know What?

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Michael Davidow

By MICHAEL DAVIDOW, Radio Free New Hampshire

The Red Sox are ready to take the field again. Major League Baseball will be playing sixty games this year, or something like that. There will be no fans in the stadium. The games themselves will be decided by coin toss. I don’t know anymore. If you want to see a real baseball game, you need to drive to Possum Hollow on a weekend morning and watch my kid play Little League.

He has moved to up to the minors this year because he has a good arm and he can also catch pretty well. We thought he’d be a pitcher. “He has a great arm!” his coach agreed. “But no control. He’ll take someone’s head off.” My kid plays shortstop now.

Game day starts with a solid breakfast: gummy bears and a glass of milk.  He should make it through half an inning before he passes out. More importantly, he is studying some old baseball cards that a friend has given him. “Do you know what?” he asks. I do not know what. Nor do I know why every conversation with him begins by his asking me if I know what. “Mike Greenwell was the best hitter ever.” 

Mike Greenwell, of course, was a flash in the pan. I try to take this seriously, while I resolve to get my child tested by an expert. But it’s time to move on. We drive to the field. Wife and mother waves goodbye. She loves game day. She gets the house to herself for two solid hours, which I believe she spends curled up with the dog, both sound asleep.

Our team takes the field. The other team takes it back. I chat with another parent, who informs me (in a socially distant way) that because I live in the same neighborhood as our mayor, we have been blessed with a very good snowplow driver. All politics is local. This is a good thing in Possum Hollow, but in Washington, all politics is not only local, but also sick-making. Donald Trump has just pardoned a felon convicted of lying on his behalf.

On the field, someone gets a hit. We all cheer. At this level, we still support the other team, and we cheer whenever anyone does anything that resembles actual baseball. One play later, a grounder rolls to shortstop, my kid picks it up, he tosses the ball to the second baseman, the second baseman drops it, and the runner is safe. We cheer for that too. 

I am struck by a sudden memory: I remember Denny Doyle, who played second base for the Red Sox before Jerry Remy did. I loved Denny Doyle and I don’t know why. Marcel Proust, the famous French intellectual, who spent a lot of time in bed (not kidding), famously wrote several thousand pages of his bed-memories after having them triggered by eating a certain cookie. He had his cookies, but I have Denny Doyle. On my deathbed, I will probably mention Denny Doyle to my wife, and she will cry. So please don’t cry. It’s only second base.

Another grounder gets hit to short and this time my kid picks it up, glances at his teammate, who glances back at him, uneasily, and then my kid decides to run the ball to the bag himself. He loses the race. Everyone cheers. I will need to talk to my son about being a good teammate and trusting the other players more. In Washington, Donald Trump has just attacked Dr. Fauci for changing his mind about various things, as the science upon which he was relying evolved. I like Dr. Fauci and I wish he were president.

My child is now at bat. He has a new bat, which he likes, because it’s way too big and heavy for him. This is my fault, not his. He strikes out. We cheer. The other parent compliments me, from a social distance, for how well my child walked to and from the plate. “You should see him pitch,” I reply.

Denny Doyle was a famously light hitter.  I also remember Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Lou Brock, Jim Palmer, Steve Garvey, Wilbur Wood, and Danny Cater. I will remember all of these people on my deathbed. Wilbur Wood used to win twenty games a year and lose twenty games a year, too. His baseball card used to confuse the hell out of me. 

I happen to look up and see a sign in the outfield. It’s the Little League Pledge:

I trust in God

I love my country

And will respect its laws

I will play fair

And strive to win

But win or lose

I will always do my best

This is a cold war relic. It was written in 1954 and passed along to President Eisenhower for his approval. We may assume that Donald Trump never played Little League.

Michael Davidow is a lawyer in Nashua.  He is the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project.  His most recent one is The Book of Order. They are available on Amazon.

Views expressed in columns and opinion pieces belong to the author and do not reflect those of

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