Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recent page turnings

The first book of Percival Everett's I read was American Desert. The book's dark humor really stuck with me, a guy was decapitated then came back to life in the funeral home, and I sought out more of his work.

Full disclosure, I did not realize he was African-American until about 2/3 of the way through the book when I looked him up online.

Since then I've read some of his other work, most of the time thinking he's one of the good writers few people read - but those who do cherish his work.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier is his latest, and it tells the story of Not Sidney Poitier, a man who was born after 24 months of gestation and the complications of the name. It also has Ted Turner delivering hysterical non sequiturs and then a version of Everett himself makes an appearance. It reminds me of Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions and it's an entertaining read.

The picture is of Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Andy Pafko. It was taken at the Polo Grounds on October 3rd, 1951, just after New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thompson hit the historic game winning home run in game three of the National League playoffs to send the Giants to the World Series.

The question is: what happened to the ball?

No one knows. There has been a lot of speculation. Don Delillo wrote about it extensively in his novel Underworld, but it still has not shown up.

Brian Biegel takes on the assignment in his book Miracle Ball, an excellent book of memoir and skilled research that tells the story of a man in the midst of crippling depression who gets out of it by trying to find an object, and ends up finding much more.

It must have been a great time to be a baseball fan in New York in the 1950's. There were three exciting teams in the region and the rivalry was fierce. My family were all Yankees fans.

I still remember the anger and passion a friend's father had in his voice when, over thirty years later, we talked about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Walter O' Malley, that son of a bitch! He took them away!"

Had I been around, I think I would have put my allegiances to the New York Giants. Surly Leo Durocher was their manager, Sal 'the Barber' Maglie on the mound and the greatest of all the center fielders, Willie Mays gave his all.

I own a replica New York Giants baseball hat.

This book helped me remember what it was like to be a Mets fan. As to the location of the fated ball, there's a great mystery to be solved. It involves the Pafko picture above, some impressive CSI work, a lot of memories jogged, an amazing coincidence or four and more than one miracle.


Andrea (ace1028) said...

Loved this entry. As a life-long Mets fan, married to a Yankees fan who is unfortunately turning my daughter into one of them, I would have followed the Giants, too. Great shot of history in there with the picture.

Someone Said said...

Thanks. I really recommend Miracle Ball, it captures a lot of baseball history I would have liked to have experienced first hand. 1986 was not enough as I was only five in 1969!