The ball rolled all the way to the pen. Struck foul with no one to give chase, it made it’s way to us, the lazy pack of minute men sitting down the left field line. Nonchalantly, I stepped on it to catch it.
Immediately cheers erupted. Fans know fouls go into the stands and so they began petitioning for it.
Unfazed by their urgent, desperate pleas, I leisurely reached down to pluck the new ball from under foot. It dawned on me, as I turned the ball in my hand, the balls in the catch bag were not as nice as this freshly foul perl. I decided I would switch it out with a tarnished ball so we could extend the life of this good one. I started to walk away from ball suitors to make the exchange. The crowd let me have it. I expected as much, they assumed I wasn’t going to sacrifice to them, but they were wrong. I made my way back with a downgraded ball and tossed it into the maw of hungry hands. Before I could return to my seat a teenage boy in extra baggy clothes with choppy hair shooting out under a hat turned at that annoying half-cocked angle, bellowed at me with voice of rude expectation indicative of little punk, “hey, why choo didn’t gib-me-dat ball? Gib-me da other one, the good one. I saw you switch it! You gotta whole bag dawg!”
“Are you really asking me why I switched it or why I didn’t give it to you?” I asked, in a slow, tired draw.
“Both, man. I come to like every game and stuff, like all the time. I deserve a ball.”
“Your a big fan then huh?”
“Yeah bro, I love da Beavers. I’m like the number one fan yo, you should give me a ball.”
“Ok, well, what’s my name then?” It was on my jersey, but my back was turned.
“Right. Biggest fan.”
“Still, I seen you had a bag full a dem, hook me up man?”
“I can’t do that. Sorry.”
“Yo, you suck then man, why you can’t? I mean, seriously, yall be millionaires and stuff.”
“Oh, If only that were the truth’¦”
“I had a buddy tell me you get those balls for free.”
“That’s not true at all. These balls are expensive. More expensive then you’ll ever know.”
“Well, it’s a long story, but since your such a big fan, I’ll tell you…”
“Every year, in the spring time, hopeful monks wishing to enter the sacred order of the Stitched Moon make a pilgrimage to a land deep in the Tibetan mountains. They take very few supplies with them, barely enough to make the journey, resting upon faith they will accomplish the task before them.
They travel night and day, rarely stopping to eat or rest. Some are over come with fatigue, others by starvation. Some are carried of by predators. Still, a select few fulfill the journey and find themselves in a paradise untouched by the poison of the modern world.
You see my friend, legend speaks of a valley in those mountains, a second Eden if you will, where beauty blossoms with out limit. It is a land of magic and fantasy.
They sky of this paradise is arrayed with exotic birds. The ground littered with precious gems. There is a sapphire blue lake where mermaids live, the water as sweet as ambrosia. There are fields of flowers, each bud more magnificent then the next, where unicorns frolic. Sometimes, when not singing to the sounds of their lutes and harps, the native elves ride the unicorns, though that may just be an old wives tale.
The journey is full of temptation, yet there is none greater then call of this paradise. “Stay,” it bades, “forget about the order of the Stitched Moon.” Many monks are seduced, and in their careless self indulgence, they fall victim to the lands only guardian, the dreaded Garfoose, a fire breathing half giraffe, half moose, whose only known prey is man.
Stealthily, so as not to alert the Garfoose, the monks travel into the heart of the paradise to an enchanted grove. It is within in this grove they find the treasure they so desperately seek. For the trees of this grove are baseball trees with limbs bursting with perfectly formed baseballs. The monks collect these baseballs and carry as many as they can back to their villages.
Upon return, the monks are met with celebration. Weeks of feasting are held in their honor before they are warmly excepted into the order of the Stitched Moon. The baseballs are proof of their commitment but they also serve another purpose. The collected baseball are sold to Major League baseball for a healthy profit to the monks. The money is then used to buy new initiates their robs and Sacred Moon text books.
Major League Baseball then takes the baseballs and sorts them. The best balls going to the major leagues, the next best to triple A, and so on. Over the years science has tried to replicate the the perfect harmony of a naturally created baseball from the enchanted, Garfoose guarded, groves of the legendary mountain paradise. But a real baseball player knows the difference. Don’t ask me how, but there is just something special that you can feel when you hold it’¦”
I finished the tale looking out into the distance, my hand extended as if pointing to some heavenly paradise.
“That, my friend, is why these balls are so special, and why I can’t give them out to just anyone.”
“Man shut up, quit playing.” Said the boy.
“It’s all real man, I’m not playing.” I was stark serious, staring at him like it was all true, like he was a crazy person for doubting me.
He paused, looked left and right then leaned toward me and with a small, timid voice whispered, “You being for real about that?”
“Of course not, what kind of idiot would believe that story? The balls all say made in China on right on them! I’m not giving you a ball because your a lying little punk in need of a grammar lesson. Now get a hair cut and fix your freaking hat, you look like a two year old trying to wear his dads clothes.”
He made that tongue-tisk sound, and threw his chest out at me, “Man, you suck! Dat’s why you be in da minors, you ain’t never gonna make it, looser!”
“Thats alright, at least I’m not going to have nightmares about the Garfoose coming to get me.”