Honus and HanleyMay 12, 2010
I’m hitting the road this morning, bound for the east coast, so I won’t be doing any posts for the next week and a half. My first stop will be a reading at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Honus Wagner’s baseball homeland of Pittsburgh. Before I go, I wanted to quickly finish up the story I started yetserday about my trip onto the field at Wrigley.
After I got down to the field, I waited around for a while, taking a seat in a folding chair in the photographer’s section. I watched some Marlins in the cage hit rope after rope into the outfield.
Here I am, I thought. Inches away.
It was terrifying, actually, being that close to the action and thinking that in a few minutes I’d be on live TV. Eventually, the Marlins’ pregame broadcaster, Craig Minervini, appeared and chatted me up for a few seconds before rushing off to continue his preparations. He was a friendly motormouth, and within seconds somehow communicated that he loved baseball cards, loved Strat-O-Matic, and loved the same Cheryl Tiegs fishnet bathing suit photo that ruled my fantasy life in the late 1970s.
A few more minutes passed, and I watched Craig race through the first segments of his pregame show. Everybody was so blasé all around me. The guys behind the TV cameras, the photographers next to me, setting up, the giant-haunched baseball players sauntering around on the green grass like vaguely immortal minotours. This happened every day for all of them. Brad Stevens, the boy genius who coached Butler to the NCAA finals, threw out the first pitch. I was the only one in my vicinity of bored pros who clapped for him. Finally Craig waved me over, and I sat in a folding chair so close to him that if I were any closer I’d be behind him, and for a few minutes Craig carried me along on a tidal wave of polished cheerful banter. I don’t remember much. I think I called Joe Wallis a hippie. Then it was over. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Craig thanked me for coming on and wished me luck on the book, then he rushed off. I asked the sound guy, a genial, slightly bedraggled young man named Pogo, what happens next.
“Where do I go?” I said.
“Hm, man, I don’t know,” he said, scratching his head.
At that exact ambiguous moment the PA system asked everyone to stand, which when translated to people already standing on the field means “everybody freeze.” A moment of silence for Ernie Harwell and Robin Roberts was held. The Marlins, knowing the drill, had emptied their dugout and were standing in a line, facing the flag.
I was the last guy in this line. All the players standing with their caps over their hearts, and then me, disheveled and bug-eyed, holding a copy of my book like I’d somehow daydreamed so severely through a usual Josh Wilker day that I’d ended up mistaking the Florida Marlins for a library checkout line. I hadn’t recognized most of the Marlins, but I certainly recognized the player directly in front of me, an arm’s length away.
The moment of silence ended, and then a guitarist and saxophone player performed the national anthem. I was loving America and feeling weird, standing at awkward attention right behind Hanley Ramirez, one of the five or ten best baseball players on the globe.
Please have fun with the archives on this site while I’m gone, or better yet, curl up with a nice book!
Also, I’ve got a guest post up at my old writing friend Dory’s blog, In This Light, that wonders if all good things begin by goofing around. And there should be interviews with me going up at soon at Bronx Banter and This Week In New York.
Welp, as my friend Bill used to say, see in the future or see you in the pasture. Or maybe I’ll see you at a reading. Please check out the book tour page for details, and note that the start time for the May 13 reading in Manhattan has moved from 7:00 to 7:30. Here’s a flyer for the event: