Excellent! So much better than giving in to me. Never ease up. Always deliver
your best ball."
President," says Klem, "we'd like you to have the ball as a memento of
your visit here."
delighted, sir. Delighted."
Day 28, a day when the clouds crowd close to the ground, there is a sudden
hissing from the sky that causes us all to look up. The wicker gondola of a
balloon is the first thing to become visible high over second base. The
sibilance increases and the players on the field stare skyward as if trying to
catch sight of a pop-up.
Then the balloon
itself becomes visible, tall and tear-shaped, striped red, white and green
silk. The gondola settles, softly as a feather, on the grass behind second. The
fog swirls about the balloon and about the players as if the vehicle has drawn
the sky closer to earth. There are two figures in the gondola, both wearing
cowled cloaks of heavy woolen material. The balloon deflates softly, crumpling
toward centerfield like a tower tipped over. We gather around the craft.
One man is the
pilot, the other the passenger. The passenger, an older man with regal bearing,
climbs from the gondola, stretches luxuriously and stares around with bright,
all-seeing eyes. He is balding, with long white hair at the back and sides and
a flowing white beard.
"May we be of
service?" asks Klem.
traveled a considerable distance," says the old man.
"This is one
of my inventions," he adds, pointing to the balloon, "though I'm seldom
given credit for it. I set down all the principles in 1505, but it took
scientists nearly 300 years to realize the potential of my ideas. Cautious
types, afraid of their own beakers...."
It is Mott, who,
mopping his brow, speaks the words " Leonardo da Vinci?"