As I watch, a
cold, evil white cloud drops low over the field. A lightning bolt like a spear
flies earthward, pierces the ground beside Grady's body and quivers for a few
seconds. Then the cloud drops even lower and more bolts strike the ground.
Thunder rumbles ominously. The molten tines rise. They are bearing Bob Grady's
body in the V of their embrace. All that is left behind is a scorched
silhouette on the rightfield grass.
The next day,
Theodore Roosevelt arrives at the baseball grounds at about 8 a.m., riding a
flame-colored gelding with a white diamond on its forehead. He is accompanied
by three aides, also on horseback; all four wear slickers the color of
flypaper. Water drips from their hat brims. Water also drips from Roosevelt's
President, this is an honor," says Klem, raising his hands to call time.
The President, leaving his entourage, rides around behind home plate until he
and his horse face the ragged and drenched ballplayers. He clears his throat
loudly. The rain has fogged his glasses. He stares at us.
your magnificent achievement abound," he begins. "I wanted to see for
myself. What inning are we in, Mr. Umpire?"
1,554th," replies Klem.
hardly have to give my standard speech lambasting the doctrine of ignoble ease
and praising the doctrine of the strenuous life," says the President.
"What I see before me is the strenuous life." He thrusts his head
forward and works his jaw rapidly: "It is far better to dare mighty things,
to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank
with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they
live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat."
cheer rises from our collective throats. It is absorbed almost instantly by the
President, we would be honored if you would take a turn behind the plate,"
"I should be
honored to do so, sir," says the President, dismounting in a fluid motion.
"But, if you would not deem it inappropriate, I would rather take a turn in
front of the plate."
means, Mr. President," says Bill Klem. He nods toward Little Walter, who
scuttles quickly back to the Cubs' bench and drags a heavy black bat toward
home plate as the Confederacy players retreat to their positions on the