I zipped the ball to a Yorkville Little Leaguer the requisite distance, and it made it, in flight, and found a temporary nook in his leather.
"This is sufficient," I said to myself. I left the leather-covered sphere with the ninth-grader, dropped my 1974 Rawlings glove into my 1975 canvas duffle and massaged my right wing the whole three-quarters of a mile home.
I've had a recurring dream about the Juegos de Viejos, the Old-Timers' Game, I'll be playing in just over three weeks down in Saltillo.
I misplay a short bunt down the third base line, running past the ball, unable to bend deep enough to get my glove on it. A line drive whizzes by me, down the line for a two-bagger, my reflexes too slow to consider stopping it. Worst is the high-chop that I field cleanly, pause to throw, then bounce the ball to the first baseman, their runner safe by a good two steps.
At this point in my recurring dream, my arm feels like a pin cushion. It feels like with the next bit of exertion it will fall off completely, rotating in the air like a spastic windmill that's flown off its axel.
Then my dream gets worse.
It is my turn to bat.
I grab my lumber, step up to the plate and swing like a rusty gate. 16,000 Mexicans throw Coke bottles at me, and tomatoes, and an occasional avocado as if I plan to make guac. They jeer. "Jorge Navidad," like Knick fans back when I was a kid used to call for a journeyman forward named Harthorne Nathaniel Wingo.
|Would they call for me derisively like we long-ago called for Wingo?|
I suppose whether you're 17 or 57, in baseball or in advertising, you have dreams and fears like this. Like you're no longer able to do the job. The fact is, though you've done the job a thousand times, each next time is a new time and, who knows.
Even, say, things I've done more recently, like write print ads. Every one I face this fear.
What if I am out of headlines? What if nothing comes? What if I go to write this blog one morning and Seth Godin comes out.
That's my fear about Saltillo.
When I was a kid, this had to be 1973, so I was 15, my friends and I cut out of school to go see the Mets play in Shea Stadium. The great Willie Mays had returned to New York, 16 years after his team, the New York Giants, had relocated to San Francisco.
I remember a ball being hit to Mays in the outfield.
I've never in my life seen a man move slower.
And this was Willie Mays.
That's what I'm afraid of. At work. In Saltillo. In life.
The Old-Timers Game.
We'll all be playing in one someday.