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The Blown Perfect Game

by Carl Hoffman

 

I recall back to my youth in the sixties when playing sandlot baseball was a norm. Although most of my friends and I played on organized youth leagues, there was something magical about our sandlot games.

Thinking back to that time when baseball was America' favorite past time,  (I now think football may have taken that lead) I remember our sandlot games we played practically everyday. Having a game depended on whether we could recruit enough players.  You really only needed a total of four players but if we had more, it becomes a more interesting game. 

Sometimes we played several games a day and often played until it was too dark to actually see the ball.  That is how much we enjoyed the game of baseball. When we weren't playing on weekends we listened to Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the game of the week on TV. 

The Blown Perfect Game  was by far one of my fondest and most humorous recollection of our sandlot adventures.  This particular day we were having difficulty finding a fourth player. It seemed like nobody was at home or just didn't want to play.  When we didn't have enough players we would just shag fly balls and grounders for some practice, hoping somebody would drop by and want to play some baseball.

Ron, Bill and I would take turns hitting the ball to the outfield and infield so the other two could practice fielding.  As fate would have it this tall lanky kid, which we have seen hanging around occasionally,  but really didn't know, walked up and started retrieving the ball from the fielders and handing the ball off to the hitter so it could once again be smacked and be shagged.  His name was Bernard but his nickname was "Stinky."  I don't know how he got this nickname but you can use your imagination.  At any rate we had our fourth player.  Ron reluctantly took "Stinky" as his teammate, which left Bill and I as comrades.  To play two man baseball you must have some specific rules.  One rule is that either right or left field, depending if you are a left handed hitter or right handed hitter, is a dead field.  If you hit the ball to that side of the outfield you are out unless it is over the fence for a home run.  You have a pitcher and a outfielder and you must hit at least a double to get on base.  You throw the runner out at second like it was first base. 

Ron pitched for the other team and Bill and I rotated the  pitching for our team.  The game was close but Bill and I were losing 1-0.  Ron was pitching a masterful perfect game entering the last inning. Ron had a great knuckleball and we kept popping out to either Ron or Stinky.  When the final inning began, "Stinky" wanted to pitch the last inning.  He whined and whined until Ron gave in and allowed him to pitch. 

Bill was first at bat and on the very first pitch he hit a home run over the fence.  WOW! It's tied up but the perfect game had ended and so did the game because as soon as the ball went over the fence, Ron lost his cool and went after Bernard. He was chasing him all over the field throwing his glove at him and anything else it could find.  I must give "Stinky' some credit, he could move and dodge very well.  The game ended in a 1-1 tie .

Amazing as it may seem we never saw Stinky again.  We accused Ron of having him assassinated.

 

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