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A Drive into the Gap by Kevin Gulifoile

A Drive into the Gap

by Kevin Gulifoile

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This book, a short one about the duration of long-term memory, centers on the relationship between the author and his father, a one-time executive at the Baseball Hall of Fame museum, also a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient.

There's a memorable story in chapter 5. It's a throw-away account of a practical joke that Jerry Ruess, who worked for the L.A. Dodgers, once played on Tommy Lasorda, the team’s general manager. Here’s what Ruess did. He took a game ball and wrote a message to Frank Pulli, the home plate umpire. The message said, “Frank -- Hope you’re enjoying the game, Tommy Lasorda.” Jerry gave the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher noticed the message on the ball and thought to himself, Strange that the team’s manager is sending messages to umpires on game balls. And then he threw the pitch anyway, which fouled into the stands.

After the game, the pitcher told Tommy Lasorda that he thought the message he’d sent Frank Pulli was pretty funny. Lasorda scratched his head. Later that night, Lasorda’s wife, Jo, asked him about the autographed ball. Now Lasorda was really confused. Jo said that the fan who caught the foul ball was amazed to find that the ball had already been signed by the general manager.
Even more amazing, the fan, whose name was Frank, was impressed that Lasorda had somehow singled him out of the crowd and inscribed the ball just for him.

We don’t know what happened to foul-ball-catching Frank of the ballpark stands, but I imagine that Moses himself can’t have felt much different on the day that a decorative shrubbery on Sinai burst into flame and called him by name, twice: Moses, Moses.

Wouldn’t it be funny if the real story about the bush on Sinai was that some desert denizen had meant to play a trick on one of his friends, some guy named Moses Abobay or something, but the wrong Moses had come along? And then that wrong Moses had gone and freed the Israelites from slavery, parted the Red Sea, and led them to the promised land. All because of a practical joke.

Blasphemy, you may say, but then I’ll tell you that the difference between the cosmic and comic is only a single sibilant -- the soft hiss of air leaking from a bicycle tire, molecules of air streaming single-file out of our skull’s inner-tube.

And then the tire goes flat and playtime is over. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
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