Ten Miles of Twine

[dropcap]I [/dropcap]know it’s only a game. I know it’s just a cork ball wrapped in yarn, covered in hide. I’ve taken apart my share of baseballs to see how they’re made. And it’s disappointing, unwrapping ten miles of twine only to find a lump of cork. I don’t know what I expect to find. A piece of candy might be nice.

My daddy worshipped that little horsehide ball. So did his daddy, and his before him. Sometimes, the men in my family gathered outside and played ball together. They were mediocre players. They’d laugh and congratulate themselves on good throws, or how hard they hit. The more they drank, the better they played.

The better they played, the more they drank.

I can remember Uncle Lawrence standing in front of a green hay bale with a Louisville bat. My grandaddy crouched behind him, with a catcher’s mitt. My father stood sixty feet away, pitching from a mound of dirt. Whenever Lawrence knocked one into the pasture, he’d say something like, “And the crowd goes wild.” He’d take a sip, then look at me. “Wild, I said.” Then I’d whoop and holler.

I represented his unruly crowd.

Last night, I watched the second game of the World Series in my living room. On the bookshelf sits grandaddy’s mitt – which I keep oiled. Along with it: my father’s mitt, a hickory bat with Grandaddy’s childhood address carved in it, and a baseball my father held particularly special – though I’ll never know why.

I watched the game by myself.

But not alone.

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