Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Go Down, Maholm? The Hill? About the author, Boyd Nation

Go Down, Maholm? The Hill?

Publication Date: April 17, 2001

My First Game Story

Last weekend I got to make my first visit to a pressbox -- many thanks to Joe Dier at Mississippi State for the invitation -- and it occured to me while watching the residents work that I had never actually written a game report. I've attempted to remedy this situation, but I'm a Mississippian still, so I may have been distracted by my literary roots:

Go Down, Maholm

The rain came harder -- the incessant, unfaithful Mississippi rain, back again enough that they had to stop now, stopping to cover the green, to take cover themselves, to rest from their work of play -- and the young man climbed down from his hill, the hill where he had come to ply his trade as he learned of the world, where what had once been done for joy and the yells of the other boys had become strange and tense, with the fickle crowds and the strange men with their strange guns, yet still with that kernel of joy at its center when he could feel the strength course through his arm, and the ball would explode as they flailed uselessly against it, but not today, no, today had been hard, as he had struggled to keep pace with the interloper -- the other Southern yet almost not Southern, perfect early in the day and still almost untouched, seeming not to work or struggle but simply mechanically throwing and catching, throwing and catching, throwing and catching until hope seemed gone -- and he had not surrendered, but neither had he triumphed, continuing to strive as he had that day before, much before, when he was small but big and could throw all day, over and over, throwing and catching, throwing and catching, throwing and catching himself, and the boys had come and gone from the field and from the world, going on to their own places, but he had stayed, stayed through the long Mississippi afternoon where nothing existed but him and the ball and the mitt, only the mitt no matter who held it or who was around, only ball, mitt, ball, mitt, catch, throw, catch, throw, catch, throw, and his mother calling and calling and the last of the boys leaving and dinner and exhaustion and the pain, the sweet, sore pain, the next day, and he could never get back to that place, and the rain stopped, and the man in blue waved his arms and the boys came and uncovered the green, and the young man shook himself, the stillness gone, and climbed his hill again.

The Hill

As the pitcher, an interchangeable-looking brunette, returned to the mound and began his warmup tosses, the hard man in the windbreaker behind the third base dugout, a Gary Busey lookalike, pulled out a cell phone and discretely placed a call. "Yeah, he's got the stuff. The usual?" He snapped the phone shut and left his seat to find a place outside the locker room, lighting a cigarette on which he would occasionally take a puff, just enough to keep it burning. His plan wouldn't always work, but he could be patient; his employers only needed a few pitchers.

The smiling Diamond Girl, who looked remarkably like Monica Potter, trotted awkwardly but winsomely to the mound and handed the pitcher a small towel. The pitcher glanced at her fondly yet maintained his steely focus.

Suddenly, a jolting noise split the air as a car alarm shrieked into the evening. The pitcher briefly considered the course of his future in self-affirming yet honest ways and then began his work, quickly and efficiently performing his task.

As the pitcher lasted a couple of innings longer than expected, the windbreaker man fell back to his alternate plan and took a seat behind the pitcher's mother, a Susan Sarandon type, to see if she would be interested in working the deal. He knew that she had been, and really still was, a small-town girl and might find the lure of a foreign league interesting, but he'd have to balance carefully.

Meanwhile, a small group of uncomfortable looking men gathered in a small room high in the stadium, huddled around a tattered book. "It's true," shrugged the oldest, "there's nothing in here about what to do about a rainout in this situation. Guess we'll just have to make that call on our own." Their decisions were, of course, made in private, yet they would effect the hopes and joys of all those in present and many more who would look at the results in determining their enjoyment of the entertainment below and in other places scattered around the country. They had come to their positions through their love of the game, but that had gone long ago, leaving only the power.


Now, y'all behave, or I'll have to use my Eudora Welty imitation, and I don't think any of us want to see that, do we?

Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Go Down, Maholm? The Hill? About the author, Boyd Nation