I’m flat on my back on a cold, concrete surface when my eyes open. Rain sprinkles hit my face. The hum of distant traffic tells me I’m in a city. I sit up, look around.
I seem to be at the top of a long, wide flight of steps, but all of us are here, “waking up” at the same time. Mikey and Sherman and Fred and Crazy Amy—even this chirpy-faced kid in his twenties wearing a flannel shirt I’ve never seen before. The 4-D dice are lying right there next to me so I grab and stuff them in my pants pocket.
“Yo Gip!’ yells Friendly Fred, “What did you do to us, bro?” I didn’t do anything except try and keep them from stealing my dice. but maybe they fell out of all of our hands at the same time or something. All I know is that something very weird and wrong has just happened. Only one person at a time is supposed to go back to ’77, and straight to a ball park. Where the hell are we?
The direction we’re facing is too foggy to see anything, but when we turn, we’re looking up at tall sandstone-colored columns, like you’d see in front of a national monument. “We better not be in D.C,” yells Crazy Amy, “The Senators weren’t even there anymore and my Giants already got screwed out of a spot.”
“Let your fushlooginah Giants go already,” says Sherman, pulling off his glasses to rub a cataract, “inferior organization.”
“Compared to who, old man? Your dorky Dodgers?” Sherman turns red and I start to get between them, but at that moment two yellow buses pull up at the foot of the steps and a flood of high school kids pour out. The boys have long or bushy hair and wear gaudy, tight-fitting clothes, while most of the girls have exploding shags and wear either platform shoes or hip-huggers. They bound up the steps toward us, screaming and hooting, reach the top, turn and raise both of their fists in signature victory poses.
“We’re on the Rocky steps!” shouts Mikey, jumping up for joy and striking the same pose, “We’re in freakin’ Philly!”
“Right on,” says Fred, “but explain to me what we are not doin’ at the ball park?”
“Maybe I can shed light,” says the chirpy-faced newcomer, who suddenly stands there holding the sports page of a local paper. “I found this on that bench over there. We are clearly in 1977.”
I grab it from him, stare at the lead sports story: CRUZ BLAST SINKS CARLTON, PHILS, 2-1. ”That’s impossible,” I say.
“What’s impossible?” asks Sherman.
“I reported that game yesterday, but it was played with the dice. It didn’t really happen, right? Wait a sec…” I quickly find the standings. Yup, only eight listed teams in each league.
“Something just fell out of your pants,” says Crazy Amy, “your back pocket, I mean.” I look down, pick up a miniature version of the spiral score book I left behind. The words MAY TO OCTOBER GAMES stamped on the front. “Um, guys? I have a funny feeling we have to follow the rest of the season or we’re never getting back.”
“Good!” says Mikey, “who the hell wants to go back to that nuthouse? Besides, the Phils can actually get in the Series this time and WIN it!”
Fred isn’t pleased. “Better not let my man Reggie hear that or he will whup your ass—”
And the fighting starts all over again. I break it up with a loud whistle. “Cool it, people! We all got stuck here together, remember? Together! Now my guess is we ended up in Philly because tonight’s game…” I glance in the paper. “Lemongello against Christenson…is going to be something else.”
“Leomongello only pitched four years, you know,” says the chirpy boy out of nowhere, “His 4.06 career E.R.A. is acceptable, but he did give up 56 home runs and his 1.346 career WHIP is nothing to write home about.” We gaze at him, until he says, “I’m Lester, from Lazy Creek. If you ever need a stat, please ask. I created my first fielding efficiency database when I was seven.”
“Who do you root for, Lester?” asks Crazy Amy, with an icy glare to match.
“The Cards. Or the Cubs. Or the Twins. Or the Royals. Depending on whoever is living inside me that day.”
While we continue to stare at him, Mikey says he knows someone that can lend us a ten grand or so to get us through the season, as long as we pay it back soon with 40% interest. I don’t care. Dr. S. got me thinking all new about myself when she showed me that news clipping, and now I got a few other missions on my mind, along with following the pennant races around the country, of course.
The first is to find the man who abandoned me at Fenway Park.
Game of the Day
PHILADELPHIA—So Lemongello and Christenson both stink up the Vet. It’s 2-0 Phils when Watson belts a 3-run bomb in the 3rd. Phils tie it at three but ‘Stros get two more in the 4th. Solo homers from Bull Luzinski and Bob Boone tie it 5-5 in the 5th. Christenson homers in the 6th. Doubles by Puhl and Cabell in the 8th tie it 6-6, before a Cruz single off Garber and butchered fly by Luzinski put three on the board for Houston. Sambito’s in for the save, but Schmidt walks and Sizemore singles with one out. Mikey’s ripping off his shirt next to me, making more noise than the 30,000-plus combined. Boone walks to fill the bases and Maddox rips one to deep left center that drops just over the wall for a game-winning grand slam! In-freaking-credible.
HTN 003 200 013 – 9 12 1
PHL 201 021 004 – 10 13 2
W-Reed L-Sambito HRS: Watson, Luzinski, Boone, Christenson, Maddox GWRBI-Maddox
DODGERS 7-12-1, at EXPOS 4-10-0
Triple, homer, and single from Garvey to produce his five RBIs, and Steve Rogers is beaten easily and badly.
W-Hooton L-Rogers SV-Sosa HRS: Garvey, Dawson GWRBI-Garvey
at PIRATES 7-10-2, CUBS 0-9-2
Tidy little 9-hit shutout from the Candy Man. The Cobra gets two singles and a homer before getting plunked by Broberg the next time up and nearly sparking a brawl.
W-Candelaria L-Bonham HR-Parker GWRBI-Parker
CARDS 12-19-0, at REDS 2-4-0
Already used my “Forsch be with you” gag, so won’t do it again. But it really was tonight.
W-B. Forsch L-Billingham HRS: Simmons, Bench-2 GWRBI-Templeton
at RED SOX 6-11-1, RANGERS 0-4-3
Aase with the blanker, Briles with the crapper, but the Ranger infield botches three balls to account for some unearned business.
W-Aase L-Briles HR-Fisk GWRBI-Lynn
at YANKEES 11-13-3, WHITE SOX 10-13-1
Gullett has a 6-0 lead into the 4th but a bobbled inning-ending grounder to Randolph allows Chicago to score seven times in the 4th and take the lead. Yanks roar back with one in the 6th and four more in the 7th, and still almost blow the game anyway because Lyle can’t get a toddler out right now. In six and a third innings, Sparky has allowed 13 hits and eight earned runs.
W-Gullett L-Wood SV-Tidrow HRS: Nordhagen, Jackson, Dent, Piniella GWRBI-Dent
at ORIOLES 7-8-0, TWINS 3-9-0
Now, on to the daily torture. Schueler takes a 1-hit shutout into the 7th when Singleton doubles, Murray walks and that man Lee May bashes a 3-run homer to send the Birds on their merry way. LOB for the Orioles-4. LOB for the Twins-13.
W-Flanagan L-Schueler HR: Kusick, May GWRBI-May
ROYALS 6-11-0, at INDIANS 2-11-1
Bell blast gives Cleveland a 1-0 lead against Pattin, before the Tribe teases their fans for the next six innings. Leadoff double in 2nd—can’t score. First and second, one out in the 3rd—can’t score. Leadoff triple and bases loaded, one out in the 5th—can’t score. Leadoff double in the 6th—can’t score. Then Porter rolls a 1-2 homer leading off the 7th, Otis smacks one right after him, and the royal blue bloodbath begins.
W-Pattin L-Garland HRS: Porter, Otis, Bell GWRBI-Otis
American League through Friday, May 2
National League through Friday, May 2