Slick's boss, Mr. Johnson (the aforementioned Mr. J), gives him an early lunch break. Calvin has a nice relationship with Johnson. He's been teaching Johnson's 16-year-old son how to hit. You and Slick enter a huge walk-in freezer, no longer in use, and sit on metal chairs facing each other. You don't know where to start, but you want him to know you've come in peace, so the first thing you say is that you have Pokey's number and that Pokey wants him to call.
"Really?" Calvin asks.
"Yes," you say.
"You are a godsend!" Calvin says.
You remind him that he could have called Pokey, through the Reds' front office, anytime he wished. You remind him that Peaches is living in Arthurtown at a listed phone number. "Maybe so," Calvin says, "but I didn't know my kids wanted to hear from me!"
You don't want to scare him off, so you ask Calvin about his year of pro baseball. He jumps right in. "Pro ball is easy," he says. "All you got to do is play baseball. At my first spring training I met Willie Stargell. He said, 'Relax, don't overdo it. You wouldn't be here if you didn't have talent.' "
Calvin's eyes are clear. He's well groomed. He's not fidgeting. His enunciation is distinct, although his words tumble out excitedly.
"I had a good year that first year, and they wanted me to come back," Calvin says. "I went back to Columbia and I was playing sandlot ball, and one day I went to make a throw and I pulled something. I couldn't throw right after that. I went back to spring training the next year, and they could see I lost my arm. They told me to rest it and sent me home. I never went back to pro ball. Eventually the arm got better, and when I started playing so good in the Columbia leagues, a friend made calls for me. A scout from the Braves almost came to see me, but he had other obligations and it didn't work out. I feel I could have been good, real good. I feel I could have been an Ozzie Smith, to be honest."
Calvin talks about his family and his upbringing. He hardly knew his father. His mother died years ago. "Alcohol killed her," he says. He remembered Pokey coming to his sandlot games from the time he could walk. "Clara once said to me, 'Pokey watches everything you do and does it the same.' I never paid that no never mind until one day we was sitting in the dugout and I cross my legs, and I see him cross his legs at just the same time, and I say, 'Damn, she's right!'
"Pokey's gonna be on a team that wins the World Series. I know that because Pokey has a winning personality, and winning personalities always wind up on winners. I feel I have a winning personality, but I lost hope," Calvin says. "Just knowing that Pokey and Peaches want me to call them, that fills me with hope. That fills me with more hope than I've had in a long, long time."