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Al Batt: Thoughts of summer baseball

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Hello.

Hello? You’re leaving.

I know, but I’m terrible at goodbyes.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I didn’t recognize some people when they were wearing masks. Now I don’t recognize some without their masks. The minute I became completely soaked, I immediately predicted rain for the game. I saw the Twins play when I was a mere stripling thanks to Luther League. We took a bus trip to Metropolitan Stadium and our seats high in the stands. On a clear day, we could see the color of the outfield grass. We got a free bun with every hotdog, but there was a cover charge for a program. Years later, I coached baseball teams. I started with the age group wherein all the fielders ran for any ball in play. Some players had the pleasure of riding to games in my 1961 Chevy Biscayne. It had a three-on-the-tree shift and a rust problem. Its floor was trying to corrode away. The trunk held bats, balls, scorebooks and catcher’s equipment. We were headed home when the floor mat wiggled its way through the floor and embraced the exhaust pipe. This wasn’t a good combination. To say it was a fire makes it sound worse than it was, but there was a fire. I pulled the car over and got the kids out. The car had no fire extinguisher. It barely had a motor. I gathered a handful of gravel, tossed it on the flame and encouraged my players to do the same. They did. They’d been trained. Our home field sat downhill from the world. The infield was filled with rocks. A fellow coach, Gary Hanson, instituted a tradition wherein each player had to haul a couple of handfuls of rocks from the field before practice could start. Once I was sure the car wouldn’t burst into an inferno, I took the kids home. They agreed it was their best day in baseball.

A caller said, “We should get the old ball team back together.” I responded that the only reason we’d do that is if it guaranteed us a group discount at a swanky senior living complex.

Fragments and oddments

We need another holiday. You’re saying, “What? We have enough holidays. Soon we’ll be down to two workdays a year.” How about if they named the holiday after you and it became a tradition for people to send you money on that day? That’s how stupid ideas become reality.

I told stories in North Dakota and made a stop in Rugby. It’s purported to be the Geographical Center of North America, as shown on a rock obelisk there. That’s a lot of responsibility for its 2,724 people. Other cities have claimed to be the center, notably Center, North Dakota, which is the center of Oliver County.

In the news

Hole Foods opens. It will sell doughnuts, Swiss cheese and bagels, specializing in rutabagels.

Late botanist was known for his flowery language.

Ponzi Bear arrested.

Bad joke department

I asked a German friend if he knew the square root of 81. He said, “No.”

“Window or aisle?” asked the flight attendant. “Window or you’ll do what?” I replied.

Nature notes

On my way to a Town Board meeting, I spotted a gray partridge. I made it an additional agenda item.

I filled the bird feeders, scurrying like a carhop hoping for a big tip. I checked the nyjer seed feeders. Goldfinches love this (once called thistle seed) native of Ethiopia. It’s sterilized by heat treatment to deter the germination of noxious weeds. This shortens its life, making the seed vulnerable to spoilage. Nyjer contains natural high-calorie oils and it spoils like milk. When the oils dry, the seed loses food value and flavor, and is shunned by birds. Nyjer seed stays fresh for as long as three months.

A red-winged blackbird launched a vigorous attack on a crow. The crow was relieved its attacker wasn’t a great horned owl. Owls and crows make the Hatfields and McCoys look like best friends. I found a headless crow years ago. An owl probably ate the head. Brains are nutritious and easy to get at through the thinner bones of the skull. The juncture between head and body on birds is weak. The head can be removed quickly, leaving an opening into the upper torso and allowing easy access to organ meats without needing to pluck feathers.

Meeting adjourned

“Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.”—Andrew Iskander

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