I remember that Saturday as if it was yesterday: the luxuriant green of the grass; the chirping of birds in the nearby trees; and the giggling of a couple of little girls sitting behind me in the stands. There was a pair of outside handball courts on the other side of the park, and I can even remember the sound of a rubber ball splotching against the cement walls there over and over again. In the quiet morning air, that sound seemed to echo forever. I also remember wishing Robbins could be there, but she had volunteered to help out at a pancake breakfast at our church that morning. Robbins was a nurse, and I later found out she saved a life that day, doing CPR when one of the older parishioners collapsed. Turned out she was the only one there what knew how to do it. She saved that man, I mean really saved him. Edelman was his name and he became the poster person for CPR across the Southwest after that. Saving his life probably saved countless others. Considering everything else that happened that day, that thought always comforts me.
Standing out on that field, playing third base as usual, I gotta say Cooper looked like a baseball player. That may sound like a father’s pride talking, but it really ain’t. Back in those days, every kid got a complete uniform: hat, shirt, pants, stirrup socks. He had his pants fixed just so, with the elastic band of the cuffs turned in just below his knees. He wore white socks with blue stirrups layered over them. There was even a batting glove sticking out one of his back pockets. He was very particular about his cap and had shaped and curved the bill of it the way ball players will do. He wore it well up on his forehead, never down over his eyes. His team sported light gray jerseys that buttoned up the front, the word ‘Dodgers’ embroidered diagonally in the classic script of the big league team. Cooper wore number three, same as Willie Davis, who played center field for LA. The shirt had blue piping that seemed somehow to complete the illusion of greatness each kid longed for.
I can remember that game as if it was played this morning, not twenty-six years ago. I’ve relived every moment of it a thousand times over the last quarter century. In my mind’s eye, I see them all so clearly: Billy Bishop, our starting pitcher; the coach, a country looking guy we used to call Gomer Pyle ‘cause he looked something like the TV character; Dilly Lansdale, the smallest kid on the team and our second baseman. Our left fielder, Wellington Skeets was his name but of course nobody called him that, used to make like he was chasing bees in the outfield. Skeeter was like that, tended to spend more time with his head in the clouds than his mind in the game. It’s the age I think. A lot of boys are like that at that age. Hell, they haven’t found girls yet, they got to run that energy off somehow I suppose.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish