Sittin’, Spittin’ and A-whittlin’

Posted: December 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Actually, I’m not doing any of those things. I just haven’t written in my blog in so long I don’t know where to begin. That title comes from Jim Bouton’s 1969 Book Ball Four, one of the best books of 1969. I imagine I read it twenty times. It resounds with me today. Bouton and I attended the same high school: Bloom Township High School, Chicago Heights, IL. It is difficult to relate how unpleasant that experience was. I always remember that the school was cold, with strange food. For example, every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the cafeteria (bathroom graffiti from that era: ‘Flush twice, it’s a long way to the cafeteria’) would serve a turkey dinner: white and dark meat, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. It was very good, but why serve that the day before TG? Bloom was also where I heard my life quote. I walked into a locker room and a guy was sitting in front of my locker, so that I couldn’t get into it. I asked him if he could move a bit so that I could get my stuff out. He informed me that if I tried to move him I would become eligible to receive ‘A well-kicked ass.’ Well, he pronounced it ‘ay-ass’. I didn’t, but I had to get my stuff, so I stood there until he moved a foot or so.
But that was Bloom, where both Bouton and I –er– matriculated. I presume he has a good sense of humor, because many things in his book were close to riotous. I’m disappointed he never wrote much more. It was groundbreaking in that he almost singlehandedly de-mythologized baseball, and for that matter, professional sports in general.
I’ve been thinking, for example about a ball-player named Joe Jackson, aka Shoeless Joe. His character–however inaccurate–was featured in Field of Dreams, portrayed by Ray Liotta. Shoeless Joe was one of the finest baseball players in history. He was tossed out of baseball for life for betting on the 1919 World Series. But if he was trying to toss the series, he didn’t show it: high batting average, a bunch of hits, good work in the field.
So I’m thinking at this time of year that a) I miss baseball; b) I wish I could write a book like Bouton did; c) I really wish I’d had a different high school experience. Blessings.

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