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Uncle Abner and the Babe
Alice Doubleday Rhoades
May 28, 1962
When my grandchildren finally reach the age of deep and serious concern about life, I am going to choose just the right moment to make a startling philosophical observation.
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May 28, 1962

Uncle Abner And The Babe

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When my grandchildren finally reach the age of deep and serious concern about life, I am going to choose just the right moment to make a startling philosophical observation.

"My dears," I shall say, "it was your grandmother's vanity and pride that caused Babe Ruth to make off with one of her most cherished possessions."

And then, assuming that no little childish voice will spoil it all with, "But Grandma, who is Babe Ruth?" I will proceed to divulge a carefully guarded secret of my past.

At the age of 10 I was a confirmed braggart. I bragged about my capabilities, my possessions and my baby brother. One day I bragged about my ancestry, and that was the beginning of the whole episode that led to my terrible loss.

It was on the school playground and our fifth grade girls' gym class was in the midst of a Softball game. It was going badly and I was up at bat. That it was the end of an inning should be obvious because, under the playground rules, batting order followed the importance of the players, and the end of the batting order marked the end of the inning. That is, first chosen of the two sides got to be pitcher, second chosen was catcher, then first baseman, second baseman, and third, shortstop, and then all the fielders. And if there were still more players to be chosen, they made up what was for some reason called the outfield. They played the fence.

Naturally the best players were chosen first and got the best positions, and naturally I was chosen last and was the farthest out of the outfield. The question as to whether I should be chosen at all had been settled the first day of the school term when one captain, no doubt with her mind bent on winning the game, had complained, "Do I have to choose Alice Doubleday?" And Miss Harrington had answered, "You have to keep on choosing until every last girl is on a team, I don't care who she is."

So I stood up to bat, last in the batting order with two down and me to go. The ball was pitched at me three times, and three times I shut my eyes tight and swung with all my might. The inning was over; our team took the field. I skipped along beside Myrtle, the captain, and tried to think of some apt remark, preferably in the sports area, that I could make to erase the scowl on her face. I blurted out the only important sports fact that I knew. I said, "My great-great-uncle Abner Doubleday invented baseball." She scarcely paused as she took her position on the mound. "I'd rather be able to play the game than have an ancestor who invented it." Then, more forcefully, she said, "Why do you always have to be on my team? Why don't you go over on the bench and be sick or something?"

I said, "Why, I like to play. I love baseball."

She said, "Yeah? Well, if you like baseball so much, why don't you learn to hit the ball?"

"I can't see the ball."

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