Chapter 2 (continued from Clyde Wright)
Utility infielder Ed Crosby seems here to be displaying the slumping body language and sardonic facial expression of a man on the brink of declaring the official pledge of allegiance of the adrift: “Ah, who gives a shit.”
Then again, I’m probably projecting. When I was in my mid-twenties, as Crosby is here, the general tension of many a dumb useless week often collapsed as if through a rotted trapdoor into boozy ease at 3 A.M. Sunday morning in the International Bar, my elbow propped along the bar much like Crosby’s elbow on his knee, my expression finally melting from its customary angsty, apprehensive glare into Crosby’s somewhat wobbly, bleary-eyed smile, an internal monologue rising through the loosening in my chest to the accompaniment of Ain’t Got No Home by Clarence Frogman Henry on the jukebox:
Who gives a shit? Who gives a shit I work a go-nowhere job battling shoplifting teenagers and selling half-pints to ruined men? Who gives a shit I haven’t gotten laid in years? Who gives a shit I still live with my brother, my bedroom a converted closet with a toddler’s glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling? Who gives a shit my dream of being a writer is nowhere, a con game I run on myself? Here’s a toast, my friends: Who gives a shit about any of it?
Yes, I’m probably projecting. After all, a man such as Crosby who clung to the major leagues with few discernable skills (no career home runs, a lifetime .219 batting average, one career stolen base in nine attempts) must have been a passionate, focused, and tenacious practitioner of his chosen vocation, the polar opposite of a man adrift. But who knows? By 1976 Crosby had been clinging for six years to a transient, marginal major league existence, and perhaps in this moment he is seeing the encroaching inevitability of the game of baseball going on without him, completely indifferent to his absence. Maybe he can sense the truth, that he’s got just two more at-bats left before the end. Maybe he can feel it and instead of railing against it he’s taking one long last look at a world with clear lines and definite rules.
Crosby’s son is in the major leagues now, the promising but injury-prone Bobby Crosby. Not knowing anything about their family situation, I’d guess it’s a safe bet that Ed Crosby taught a love of the game to his son. Likewise, I suppose Clyde Wright must have passed some of the game down to his own son, Jaret, who has won 68 major league games. Both Bobby Crosby and Jaret Wright made auspicious debuts in the majors, the former winning the 2004 Rookie of the Year award, the latter starring as a 21-year-old rookie for the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians. These debuts suggested that both would easily eclipse the efforts of their fathers, but both have been slowed by injuries since their shining breakthroughs, the setbacks piling up enough by now to surely give them a view of the moment Ed Crosby seems to be in the midst of here, the end of the line, the end of the game, the beginning of the rest of life with all its possibilities for drifting.
(Continued in Father & Son–Big Leaguer)