by Mitch Fischman
“Did you get to second base last night?” my buddy Marty asked. He motioned how he barely slid into third and hoped to round the bases next Saturday…maybe even hit a home run, if he was lucky. Sure I knew about the Red Sox, but I wondered why he was playing baseball on Saturday night. He was talkative and was always the spokesman for our group of kids when events of the day needed interpretation. So, when he took off his belt, leaving with his pants partially open, I wondered why anyone would play a game without a belt. But Marty was a schemer, and he was so energized with the details of how he would steal home from third next week, it sounded possible.
Growing up, I knew that Marty behaved differently than our other friends. He always climbed trees or played tricks on us. Mostly, they were harmless like trying to lock us out of our own homes or starting fires with his ever-present lighter. He said he carried it to be able to light cigarettes he would bum from his older brother. I never believed that. I assumed he used it to play tricks or burn someone’s house down. Whenever I heard sirens, I always thought that Marty had done it again.
I was particularly intrigued as to how Marty was going to hit a home run next Saturday, and he didn’t disappoint me with his answer. “I will stand at the plate with a guitar,” he said, “and sing a love song while holding a dozen roses.” I appreciated his care for detail but wondered how he could hit a home run out of the park while holding all that stuff and, I assumed, a bat. He was confident, though, that he would succeed.
A week later, when I asked whether or not he had hit a home run, he said, “No–only a triple.” And he was disappointed that he was rejected at third after spending $250 on a limousine which didn’t make any friggin’ sense. I told him that all I wanted to hit was a single and that I needed him to come help me to buy a good bat.
“You don’t need a bat,” he said. “Just some good after-shave lotion and mouthwash.” I was confused. What the heck did any of that have to do with baseball? So far, Marty hasn’t explained anything to me. I guess it’s our little secret, but maybe someday I will know more.
Mitch Fischman is a baseball fan and a city planner, working for the Boston Redevelopment Authority for 15 years and for developers for 30 years. As a kid he went to Red Sox games with his Dad and always kept a running score of hits and outs by player. This blog entry grew out of that life experience.