"Play what? The piano?"
"No, I mean as a designated hitter," said the smiling man. "With those eyes, those wrists." He looked at me for approval. He couldn't stop grinning.
"Well, it takes more than eyes," said Ted.
"Oh yes, I know. Yeah. I remember the way you gripped the bat. You always gave it that extra little twist before you hit. All that power."
"You remember that, eh?" Ted said. "Boy, one of my loyal fans."
The smiling man blushed happily, a baseball archaeologist on a hot streak, digging up remembrances. "And the milk shakes. You drank a lot of milk shakes," he said.
"Is that what caused that gut?" I asked.
Ted raised the side of his mouth at me. "Boy, down the totem pole you go," he said. "Right out of the top 10 on my list of friends. Maybe never to return."
"Bob Feller says you were the best," the smiling man said. "I read it in the paper. He says the days of the super hitters are over—DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Mays. They don't make 'em like that no more."
Ted ignored the compliment. "Your dad's being awfully quiet," he said. "Must be a Mantle fan."