Sudden silence on Main Street in Calico Rock; no one moved or spoke.
"Joe, not a bad first game. What are you thinking right now?"
"Well, I would like to say hello to my family and friends back home in Calico Rock. I wish you could be here. I still can't believe it."
"Joe, what were you thinking when you stepped to the plate in the second inning?"
"I was thinking fastball and I was swinging at the first pitch. Got lucky, I guess."
"I gotta ask you—and I know you've already been hit with this—but what were you thinking in the ninth inning? You had a chance to hit four home runs in a game, yet you bunted."
"I was thinking about one thing—getting Don home from third for the go-ahead run. I love playing baseball, but it's no fun if you're not winning."
Few in Calico Rock went to bed before midnight.
AS PROMISED, my mother awakened me at 6 a.m. so I could watch the early news programs. I was hoping for a glimpse of Joe Castle. Channel 4 did a quick rundown on the National League games. The Mets had won in Atlanta to put them two games over .500. Then there was Joe Castle sprinting around the bases in Philadelphia, once, twice, three times. The drag bunt, though, got as much airtime as the three home runs. The guy could fly.
I loved it when the Mets were on the road. My father was gone, and our house was peaceful and pleasant. When he was around, the mood was far different. He was a self-absorbed, brooding man with seldom a kind word for any of us. He had never met his potential, and this was always the fault of someone else—the manager, his teammates, the owners, even the umpires. On the nights after he pitched, he often came home late and drunk, and that's when the trouble started. I suspected, even at the age of 11, that my parents would not stay together. I know he hit my mother a few times, probably a lot more than I realized. And he drank and chased women and lived the hard life of a professional baseball player. He was arrogant and cocky, and from the age of 15 he was accustomed to getting whatever he wanted, because he, Warren Tracey, could throw a baseball through a brick wall.