I've loved baseball for a long time, and, as the son of a librarian, my bookshelf is overflowing with books about the sport - the regulars that I pull off the shelf every year, the spot-starters that can never quite finish the game and bench players that are still waiting for their shot. I pick up used books all the time, and several years ago I found a nice, hard-cover version of Roger Angell's Late Innings. I knew of Angell's work, but probably haven't read anything at that point. As I flipped through the book, I noticed the book was inscribed. I knew I had to have the book after reading only a few words of the inscription:Excuse me a moment. I, I seem to have something in my eye. There. That's better.
Baseball is a jewel of many facets. It is the innocence and energizing skills of a Cub Scout softballer. It is the cavorting delight of a pick-me-up neighborhood sandlot game. It is the semi-comic adult intensity surrounding a Little League contest, and the sub-conscious adult affectations of the Little Leaguers.
It is the hopes and expectations on Opening Day of an otherwise amorphous horde, unified & partially civilized by their allegiance to a common dream.
It is the bitter-sweet experience of attendance at a late September game of two teams who are by then running not in a pennant sprint, but only out the season's
It is a harmony of mind and body-like ballet-except that baseball's skills are forged and honed in a furnace which demands not only grace, but victory, and in view of
It is something which enraptures even as it saddens.
It is something which uplifts even as it frustrates.
It is subjective, and yet it is honest.
It is something we have shared, and I am grateful.
I read this inscription a few times a year, and it never fails to really touch me. While I'm honored to have it on my bookshelf, I'm more than a little saddened to know that such a meaningful book found its way to a used bookstore. I can only assume that someone's mother cleared out her son's bedroom while he was at college or after he'd moved away. Either way, I'll keep it safe for a very long time. Unless that son somehow reads this and gets in touch with me, in which case I'd be thrilled to return it to its rightful owner.
Drew says that he got the book at a store in Madison, Wisconsin. It's a million to one shot, but if anybody has any leads on the original owner we'd have ourselves the heartwarming story of the frickin' century. I'd even let Casey Kasem come in and narrate the resolution like a long distance dedication.