Day 11. The news
from Chicago is that the Cubs have lost five games in a row and are fading
toward the second division. There is a rumor that President Teddy Roosevelt has
been asked to send troops to Big Inning to return the delinquent Cubs to
Day 12. The rain
continues. The ball diamond being on high ground is all that enables the game
to carry on.
On nights when it
clears off, the sky is a hard ocean blue, sequined by stars. But by dawn it is
raining again, sometimes little more than mist, sometimes a drilling,
jackhammer rain. The fans stay away. The Iowa River is rising daily. Its
surface ripples with tides, currents, undertows, as its speed increases. There
are reports of slight flooding on lowlands both north and south of Big Inning.
The 12th day comes to an end in the 753rd inning.
"What is it
like being in the Bigs?" I ask Tinker. We are walking in the twilight after
the day's play, along the banks of the ever-rising river.
players it's as close to heaven as any of us will get," he says. "It's
not an easy life. Lots of people look down on us—we're suspect, like actors.
Oh, the muckamucks make a fuss over us when we win, say how we bring so much
glory to the great city of Chicago and all that hoopla. But try turning up at
their house with plans to date their daughter, and see how far you get. Still,
the Bigs are one of the only places where an uneducated farm boy can be a hero,
win praise from tens of thousands of people.
"You have to
want it bad," he goes on. "You've got to want to hear the fans roar
like thunder, just for you. You've got to want it so bad you'll walk through
walls—through walls, over mountains, over people. You set your eye on the top
and never stop until you get there and never let them move you after you
Confederacy players are good enough for the Bigs?" I ask.
seen them for more than 750 innings. They've played you to a standoff."
"It all has
to do with desire. With consistency. You have to be consistent in the Bigs.
Guys who are heroes one day and bums the next don't last. There's a little bit
of accountant or banker in a good baseball player. He's got to be able to do
the same thing, and do it right, over and over, every day of his