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6

Writing the Baseball Queen

The Evolution of Inspiration

I showed this drawing to my second grade students and one girl said, “She’s the Baseball Queen, and she saves all the home run balls.”

And I said, “Eureka!”

The woman is the sculpture, “Memory”, who sits at Broadway and 106th Street in the memorial to  Isidore and Ida Strauss who went down with the Titanic. The baseball players? For months, vague ideas had been swirling in my head, centered on the great American Pastime.

In my neighborhood there was Dads and Daughters softball.  Several men gathered on Saturday mornings with their daughters to help the girls develop their skills and build confidence on the field.  The girls had other ideas, twirling, looking at the sky, practicing cartwheels--anything but batting and fielding. I thought there was a story there, but I didn’t know what.  Girls and baseball, feeling left out, the sense of longing; a baseball stew bubbled in my head.

ThenI learned Leonardo DaVinci’s last words and I couldn’t get them out of my head; “If I could make...If I...”

Then the Baseball Queen appeared.  I thought about her for some time and then sat down to write.  Anthony Trollope said, “It you want to write, apply cobbler’s wax to the seat of your pants.”  So I promised myself that I would sit with a pen and paper for one hour and I wouldn’t get up, I wouldn’t turn on the radio or pick up a book.  One hour.

Nothing happened for forty minutes and then the Baseball Queen flowed on to the paper.

 

The Baseball Queen

I am in bed and the sun is still shining.  I have to go to bed when it isn’t even dark.  It isn’t dark. It isn’t night. It isn’t fair. The sun is shining right in my eyes. Who could sleep?  Everyone else is outside playing baseball.

I can see them. I can hear them. I wish I was with them.

I wish I could get in that game.  They’re not really bigger than me.  I could play with them.

I could say, “Give me a shot.”  Then they’d pitch it to me, and I would belt that ball and it would go flying--sailing--out of the park, over the houses, over the trees, and over the clock tower.  The ladies who hold up the clock would try to catch it but it would be too high for them and much too fast.

It would fly all the way to the Baseball Queen, who catches all the home run balls and keeps them in her Home run Hall of Fame Palace in the sky.

She would say, “Who hit this ball?”

Hank Aaron would say, “It wasn’t me.”

Ted Williams would say, “Not me.”

Mickey Mantle would say, “I didn’t hit it.”

Even Reggie Jackson would say, “Don’t look at me.”

Then the Baseball Queen would say, “ Who is this new Sultan of Swat?”  And she would come all the way down to our field.

When she found out that it was me, that I was the one who hit that amazing home run, she would look at me and say, “Why are you wearing your pajamas?”

And when the Baseball Queen found out that the greatest home run hitter in the history of baseball had to go to bed before it was even dark, she would march right up to my front door, ring my doorbell, and tell my mother a thing or two.

that’s what would happen, if I could only get on that field.  If I could only get outside. If I could only stay up. If I could only...If I...

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