Topic: "Gondor Goodfellas"(9)
Frodo believes he first participated in the festivities upon a baseball diamond when he was no more than five years old. Similarly, it has been at least twenty-five years since last he swung at a pitched ball. Much about the game remains just as it always was, for that is the charm of the national pastime in the Shire. Frodo has spent many an hour watching others play his game, but, most importantly, he has never stopped wondering just how good he is today. Some changes have indeed occurred, and it has resulted in statistical accomplishments by others that dwarf those of the Hobbit, lo these many years thereafter.
For example, there are no bats made from ash or maple. For the paltry sum of $300 one can purchase an aluminum bat which will last forever, that is unless it flies from the hand of the batter and conks the senses out of an innocent bystander. Everyone wears a helmet, thereby denying all the opportunity to experience a concussion or a mimicry of the status which befell the late Roy Chapman in 1944, when an errant pitch struck immediately behind his left ear. There are no "spikes" on the shoes, but the present tennis version costs a dozen times what the Ty Cobb endorsed (and honed) variety which now rest forlornly in places like Cooperstown.
Frodo knows facts such as these because of today's meeting of the Men of Gondor, which consisted of a Mexican lunch drenched by a Dos Equiis and a sense of attitude followed by an hour of "BP" inside a batting cage. Utilizing all of the available technological improvements developed since last he swung a bat in anger, Frodo waited to take his turn against the mechanized version of Whitey Ford, or at least Pascual Perez.
Norm went first. Wearing his Yankee t-shirt, and his Yankee cap, Norm gave witness to the truism that "you can't go home again." Frodo truly believes Norm was a great fan, but as a player, well, he is still a great fan.
Dale followed, and he showed Frodo something he did not anticipate. Dale made contact on nearly every ball to cross the plate. Now that doesn't mean each would've found a passage through an imaginary infield, but it did reflect a natural hand-eye coordination which spoke well of one trained as a soldier.
Lonesome George was the only one left before the Hobbit. LG impressed the Hobbit as the exact kind of guy he would want to bat second in his mythical line-up card. Batting as a right-hander, he drilled ball-after-ball into right field, a skill which the Hobbit has not been able to master, ever.
The Hobbit swung at the first pitch, and missed it badly. The results of the second pitch were not much different as the Hobbit attempted to adjust to the outside sink of the mechanized artillery, set at 75 mph. The third pitch dribbled foul, to his left. Two more swings and misses convinced the Hobbit that making contact was the secret. How to accomplish that was the mystery.
Suddenly, with a mighty ping to echo throughout the innerworld gymnasium, a line drive carried high and hard to left field. Then it began, and ball-after-ball screamed to dead left field, up the middle, and, finally, to the hole in right field. Soon there was a crowd about, all watching the Hobbit torch the machine. At that moment, Frodo could recite the words about John Henry, "a steel-drivin' man."
Momentum drove the Hobbit, and made him hope that this hour in time would never end, or that it at least last until Freddie Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves wandered in and offered the Hobbit a long-term contract.
Now the Hobbit can rest easy, knowing that he's still got it. Glad he was however, that nobody suggested setting the machine at 95 MPH.