6:39 P.M. A bar. I am here to watch the ball game. The beer comes in tall glasses. The chicken wings are sizzling, and come garnished with a jalapeno pepper that causes serious medical damage to all who eat it.
The Braves are playing Tampa. The Braves look good this year.
I realize you might not care about baseball, and I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a slow game, without much action. But it is very important to me.
My father was the kind of man who played catch with me nearly every summer night of my childhood. I remember when he bought me my first real glove. Until then, I’d been using secondhand gloves that were too big for my hand.
He oiled the new mitt with bacon fat, then wrote my name inside with a grease pencil—my father always scribbled names on things we owned. Even on shirts, hats, and underpants.
When I found the leather mitt on my dresser, it had a red
ribbon tied around it. It took my breath away.
The fact is, I didn’t have much of a throwing arm, but I could catch. And this was one of the few things I ever heard my father brag about.
“My son can catch anything,” he once said at a church picnic. “Why, if I threw a washing machine across the lawn, my boy’d find a way to get his glove on it.”
This made me so proud it hurt.
That night, my father decided to back up his claims for the fellas on the church lawn. I slid my glove over my hand.
My father was a pitcher. He could throw trick balls. He threw four-seam fastballs, two-seamers, Bugs Bunny balls, Dipsy Doodle curves, split knuckles, and a pitch he called the “Wandering John”—in which the ball would travel so slow that it would visit the…