McLaurine threw a
breaking ball and Fischlin looped it 135 feet down the first-base line. Brewer
Second Baseman Neil Rasmussen ran and ran and dived and caught the ball
one-handed. He fell hard on his left elbow, and the ball popped out of his
glove. His momentum had carried him yards into foul territory. Not he, or
Thomas in right, or First Baseman Dave Lindsey moved to retrieve the baseball.
They all assumed Fischlin's pop-up was foul.
But Henley, still
umpiring in the Eastern League, was gesturing that the ball had been fair at
the moment that it touched Rasmussen's glove. The Yankees kept running. The
ball lay on the grass in foul territory. Worth scored. Iorg scored. Fischlin
scored. You could not charge the second baseman with an error for his
impassioned try. Fischlin had put the game out of reach with a 125-foot home
Three or four
Brewers, none of them Thomas, stormed toward Henley. Felske, a big sandy-haired
bear, sprinted from the dugout. He shoved several Brewers aside before they
came close to the umpire. McLaurine, his game lost, his perfect ERA ruined,
screamed in scarlet rage. Felske grabbed McLaurine's uniform and spun the
pitcher 10 feet away from Henley. Then, with his players blocked by his body
and his authority, Felske lectured Henley until he ran out of words.
After the 9-6
defeat, most of the Brewers showered, dressed silently and departed. After a
while only Felske, McLaurine, Thomas and I sat with our beers in the old wooden
clubhouse. By now McLaurine's usual genial personality had returned.
"You know, I
got so mad out there I was actually going to take a swing at Henley," he
year's Reading wild man, sat up straight. "Lee, don't you ever do
that," he said. "Curse, if you got to. Throw your cap. Kick dirt. But
never hit an umpire. It just isn't worth it. Think about it, will you? It just
doesn't make any sense."
Felske gazed at
me across a beer can. I have never seen a manager's face shine with greater
It did not matter
to John, but it did to me, that for the most exciting game I'd seen on any
level all year, only 200 people had sat in the grandstands of Wahconah
multipurpose stadium in St. Louis, in the vaulting shadow of the Gateway Arch,
a hulking statue purports to represent Stan Musial at bat. It is a triumph of
ineptitude over sincerity.