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THE SECRET LIFE OF ROCKY PERONE
Eliot Asinof
June 18, 1979
The author tells the story of one Richard Pohle, who at 36 felt he could still play ball well enough to make it to the majors. Knowing that no team would take a chance on a rookie that old, Pohle, with the help of a friend, hit on a scheme to step backward in time
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June 18, 1979

The Secret Life Of Rocky Perone

The author tells the story of one Richard Pohle, who at 36 felt he could still play ball well enough to make it to the majors. Knowing that no team would take a chance on a rookie that old, Pohle, with the help of a friend, hit on a scheme to step backward in time

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"You can do it, Rich," Doc said.

"Sure thing," I said as if I meant it. Then he said something about how he could make a racehorse out of a jackass if the jackass had the right attitude.

"I'm no jackass," I said.

"Then you're halfway home," he assured me.

So he went to work on me. First thing, he wanted to hypnotize me.

"What!"

"Trust me," he said.

I did. I always had. I mean, I really felt I was lucky to have him on my side. The point is, I'm not the most stable guy in the world. I grew up in grubby New England factory towns. My mother and father divorced when I was five. I never got along with my stepfather. Our home was full of hard drinkers and fighters; we never had enough money, and there were always plenty of squabbling siblings. I was always getting into scrapes. I wasn't the model child, you might say. The only reason I held together at all was baseball. Since I was 10, I knew I could play ball. And because of baseball, Lister, who is two years older and much bigger than I, became my best friend. We played sandlot ball together as kids.

And because he's my friend and such a talented specialist, now he could really help me. He got me to relax. "Start by relaxing your right leg. Fine...fine. I want you to listen carefully to what I say...."

I would drift off the way he wanted me to. He would take me back in time, from 36 to 25 to 17 to.... We gradually rehashed what my life was like through all those years—how I'd been repeatedly thwarted, how close I'd come to making it. To give me confidence, he constantly emphasized how I deserved to make it. Like when I was 10, I had my first glove, a Phil Rizzuto model. I didn't even know who Phil Rizzuto was, but I learned how to use that glove quickly enough. Owning that glove changed everything. I was small and I played shortstop, as I found Rizzuto did. I was the little guy with his hands close to the ground. I learned to get those hands on everything that came near me. I was good. Right off, I was ready for my first tryout. I wanted to play Little League but because there was none in the New Hampshire town where I was living at the time, my cousin and I hitchhiked 40 miles to Nashua. It turned out we were a day early for the tryouts, but we weren't about to go home. No, sir, I was going to make that team. We decided to spend the night in the ball park, finding shelter in the press box and curling up in corners for warmth. But my cousin didn't sleep too well. He got restless and cold, and around three in the morning he accidentally kicked a switch and suddenly the scoreboard lit up. The next thing we knew, the cops came for us, and just to keep us out of trouble, they let us spend the night in jail.

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