Play Ball 2010

The 2010 Baseball Season was opened by President Obama in Washington. He walked onto the field with a red Senators jacket symbolizing his honorary support of the home team. Half way to the mound the President pulled out a black Sox cap which he proudly wore through the ceremony. The crowd booed the show of his real loyalty to the Chicago White Sox. The right-wing press reported the AP release as if his entrance was greeted by politically-motivated bias against the black-skinned Commander-in-Chief. Maybe a few and their mouthiness was stilled by the fact that most of the players on the field were black and a good number had bats. Obama’s pitch was wide, high and left. He descended from the mound with hat in hand and I understood his temerity.

On Sunday my young nephew Fast Eddie and I strolled down to Fulton Mall to search out black-exploitation films. His choice. Not mine. All I know is Melvin Van Pebbles, SHAFT, and BLACKULA. Eddie was much better versed in the 1970s genre.

“Gordon Parks directed SUPERFLY too.” Eddie was English/French and 18. His face was younger than his age. He hated the Taliban edicts against young drinkers. “I work as a barman in London.”

“Here was you’re an illegal.” I gave him beer at home. His mother approved of this liberty, although the New York police would have considered my largess a crime. Misdemeanor not a felony. My first bar was Kelly’s on Mass Ave. in Boston. It was a black bar. I was 14. The barman only cared if I had the money for a bottle of beer.
Eddie had been refused service and entrance at my local, Franks. He couldn’t even drink water in the bar, but Homer from Mississippi gave directions to a Muslim street vendor who sold blaxploitation films.

“I don’t see the hot dog stand.” Eddie had listened to the directions, while I watched the end of the NCAA semi-finals.

“I don’t see.” I had bet $20 on Butler with the guard at the diamond exchange. It was a sweet win. Eddie’s mother wasn’t too happy about our wandering the streets and I went over to a Black Liberation book dealer. He had thousands of CDs at home. Eddie and I planned on meeting him tomorrow. Behind us was a sports store.

“I want to get a Red Sox cap.” I was wearing a Red Sox Nation tee-shirt. The cap at home was a cheap purchase from Boston’s Chinatown. My cousin Dwight had promised to deliver a better one. That was over a month ago.

“Are you sure?” Eddie was a Londoner, but was well aware of the enmity between the two baseball clubs.

“I’ve been a Red Sox fan all my life. I’ve lived in New York most of it. My son’s name is Fenway.” At one year old Fenway doesn’t understand the significance of his name and seeing that his mom and he live in Thailand, he might never learn, but he’s a smart boy.

“Up to you.” Eddie had learned that expression from a two-week holiday in Thailand as a 13 year-old. He could even say ‘Lawh ke kunh’. Probably better than me.

“Red Sox forever.” I entered Modell’s and immediately saw that the store offered a hundred versions of the famed Yankee cap but only one Red Sox cap.

“Can I help you?” The two sales clerks were young.

“You have any other Red Sox caps?” My eyes scanned the racks without success.

“Only that ugly one there.” The young man laughed as if the manager of the store had personally ordered the worst Red Sox cap possible.

“It is ugly.” And I was buying it either. I wanted something classic. A simple red B on a midnight blue cap.

“Just like the Red Sox.”

“We’ll see, sport.” Opening Day was also a night game in Fenway. Yankees versus the Bosox. “It’s the start of a new season and we got better pitching.”

“And we have Derek Jeter.” Last year’s MVP.

“But not Johnny Damon.” The Yanks had traded away the World Series MVP to Detroit. Their management kept no players too long.

“And you still have Big Pappie.”

“Yeah, thanks.” David Ortiz had a terrible year at the plate as DH. Stopping steroids hadn’t helped his swing. I exited from the store without a cap. Eddie said, “They really didn’t like you.”

“Not me. Red Sox fans.” It was war every year. “And I hate the Yankees.”

Hopefully one day Fenway would know that. Until then I was glad that the Bosox came back from behind that evening to win 9-7 in the season opener. It was a good sign.

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