If you’re not reading Thomas Boswell and you love baseball, you’re missing out. I have been a huge Thomas Boswell fan since I first read “Cracking the Show.” Here he is talking about the long-awaited White Sox Series Championship.
In the last 365 days, baseball has squared some of its longest standing debts. Last Oct. 27, the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. On April 14 this spring, the first baseball game was played in Washington after 33 vacant seasons. Last Wednesday, the Houston Astros won their first pennant in 44 years of existence. And on Wednesday night in Minute Maid Park, one day shy of the anniversary of the Red Sox’ championship, the Chicago White Sox beat the Astros, 1-0, to win their first World Series in 88 years, storming through October with 11 wins in 12 postseason games.
Frank Thomas was there, even though he was out of post-season play with a broken ankle. That had to rankle the guy, after all these years of being the lynchpin of the Sox lineup. I went to high school with Frank. He used to knock my best fastball into the computer classroom on the third floor of Columbus High School. They finally stopped replacing the glass and put in plywood until Frank moved on to college. I think it probably took several years off of Ms. Henry’s life, having a baseball come crashing into her window three or four times a week.
I would love to tell you the story about how my skinny, gangly, completely un-ahtletic brother robbed Frank of a triple, once.
We were all in PE class together our freshman year of High School. Frank was already an athletic powerhouse. He was on the JV football team, played baseball and lifted weights. He was one of those kids who is marked from early childhood to be a great athlete. He could have parlayed that into the kind of PE class fiefdom of the usual “I punch you, you cry….” variety, but Frank was a surprisingly diffident and thoughtful kid, even at 15.
But he was a complete monster at the plate.
My brother, on the other hand, was the kind of kid who handled a football like it was a ticking bomb. He hated sports, hated being outside in shorts, and he hated being around kids who made fun of the way he ran, the way he threw the ball, the way he caught the ball, etc., etc.
So, naturally, he got stuck in right field.
One October day, at something like 9:00 am, we were all out on the ballfield and Frank came to the plate. There were two outs, two men on (1st and 3rd), and Frank’s team was down by one run. I was in left field, and my poor brother was in right. Frank was batting left handed, and we all backed way, way up, though the limits of geography and architecture kept us from backing up into the building behind us.
Frank scorched the first pitch into right field, everyone saw my brother standing there and the defense grimly sighed. Third out, the runners all ran. David stuck his glove up while managing to cringe with the entire rest of his body, closed his eyes, and THWAP!
The ball thudded hard into the pocket of the glove. The impact just about carried David’s arm in a complete windmill’s arc around behind him. Frank’s base run petered out between first and second, as we all, my brother included, stared, stunned, at the strange object in his glove.
“Out three!” shouted Coach Camp.
Game over. Frank jumped up in the air and came down with both feet, shouted “DAMN!” and then quickly recomposed himself, and we all ran into the locker room to change before the bell rang.
David’s satisfied glow turned to dread as he wondered, I am sure, what fresh hell awaited him in the locker room since he had robbed Frank of his victory.
We all piled into the shack where everyone changed back into their street clothes before going back to class. David was the last one inside, and Frank shouted “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!! Hey man, today’s your day!! You’re the man today!” and that was that.
PE wasn’t quite that terrible for my brother after that, I don’t think.