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ARTILLERY Fantasy Camp 6

Thursday night after El Duque’s talk the team is going out informally for dinner and drinks as a group. Because I do not spend enough time with Cousin we both beg off and the boys understand. We are not snobs, but we can be selfish with time.


And we are both exhausted. Legs, arms, torso, parts of my body that I cannot identify that would be better left to science fiction are on fire. It hurts to shower. It hurts to chew. But it doesn’t hurt that much to have a beer or two and Cousin and I are in the rack by 900pm.


Friday morning we are actually beaten to the locker room. Cousin does his thing and I get ready for Game one. But the Kangaroo Court comes first. All rise!


The previous day’s court was fun but at this point unmemorable, at least for those not paying fines. Cousin and I both believe we have dodged a bullet.


The usual suspects are roasting and roasted. Jeff Nelson, who stole every Kangaroo Court session, gets up with a hefty garbage bag and calls for his team to come up with their gloves. He then orders the hapless crew (the team we run-ruled!) to throw their gloves in the bag so he can take them to a dumpster. The ransom is $20 each glove. Some campers are jokingly reluctant to pay, and Nellie tears into them.


Homer Bush announces that the Court has raised over $4300 bucks, a nice sum and seems about right. One of the Greats, and I am sorry I forget who, then announces that one camper is the CEO of a non-profit that gives assistance to EMTs and veterans… and has made a commitment of a $20,000 unrestricted gift to the grieving family. Thunderous applause.


It seems that I have been running around in rarefied fields. That kind of quick decisive clout is special, indeed. Respect to him and his organization, and prayers for the recipient family.


Just when the Kangaroo Court seems to be winding down, Nellie says, “Wait a minute!”


He continues, “There was this old guy the first night who called me Gil, twice. How he could mistake me for Gil I’ll never know.” He took a breath and I jumped into it.


“That was me, I own it.” I stood with my hands up.


Nellie smiled ear to ear, and I think he may have recognized me from the day before on the field. He laughed, shook my hand, and clapped my shoulder. I gave $20 to Homer without being asked.


The Court was adjourned on that note. Some old guy, indeed.


For Game one we are on our least favorite field, Field 3. Our entourage arrives in force, too… my bride and seven relatives.


And I have my worst game, ever. Three errors in left field in one inning, a five run second for the bad guys, all on me.


“Washington” saved my life. When I was playing that single infamous inning in left field one round of artillery was coming my way and Washington, in left center, started shouting at me, “Put your glove over your face!” I did. The ball fell about two feet behind me. I never saw it. I never saw any of them. I could have been killed. He told me there was no shame in wearing my catcher’s mask in the outfield going forward, and he wasn’t kidding.


That same inning a ball was hit sorta kinda between us and I did my Easter Island statue imitation, pointing at it. My legs were on fire, my back was mush, and I just wanted to sit down.


And my family witnessed it all. I didn’t care. But my career in left field was over.


I caught six innings. I had one miserable infield hit. Cousin fared better making a great loping catch in right field. But we lost, 14 – 7.


He and I had fun with the family afterwards. We both spent a lot of time looking for sympathy but I think the crew was already selling a hidden video of me on TikTok for profit.


Our afternoon game was canceled, inexplicably. It is not worth going into the “why” except it was decided outside of our team’s input. Total bull, but the die was cast. Washington was supremely ticked off and with a head of steam he lobbied hard to reverse the irreversible. He asked us to petition the powers-that-be via text to reconsider or correct. We all did as Washington requested, but to no avail. He was right, of course… we only have this week, and we want our eight nine-inning games, even if we suck.


We are told we can play a 5-inning game with Team Z on Saturday morning after our Greats game. Some consolation, at least.


Cousin and I go back to our hotel and partied and told lies about the week with our entourage. It was painfully funny, yes. We drank a little too much beer, yes. We took a power nap and then an Uber to dinner at a nice expensive place with just our team.


Anything called the Capital Grille has got to be good, and it was. Private room, great fun, a couple highballs and steaks, lamb chops, you name it, all generous portions. Everyone says nice impromptu things and Cousin is the best at it, and I state that plainly without bias.


Until Gil Patterson gets up. His wife is there and he shares some of their life, both good and bad. Major league ballplayers and coaches, the Greats, cut and bleed like everyone else. A sobering moment for us all.


I am proud to be part of a spirited group of men united in a love for baseball and respect for the Yankee legacy. It was a fitting and truly splendid night for us Bombers.


It weighs heavily that tomorrow is the last day.

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