Saturday, January 14, 2006

God's Bullpen

Time and fate have been unkind to the pitching staffs of the Oakland A's World Series teams of the early seventies. Catfish Hunter died several years ago from head injuries he suffered in a fall down a staircase. Having lost the use of his arms to Lou Gehrig's disease, he was unable to catch himself after stumbling. Vida Blue has battled alcohol and legal woes for years. Blue Moon Odom (I swear I'm not making these names up!) was convicted on drug charges in the eighties and later had his own struggles with alcohol. Now comes word that Paul Lindblad, a middle reliever for the A's and the last man to pitch to Willie Mays, died on New Year's Day after a 12 year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

When I was a kid I passed many spring, summer, and fall days listening to these guys ' games on the radio. Their exploits provided the audio background to a childhood of creek-walking, flattening nails on the railroad tracks and afternoons spent at Frontier Village. In our imaginations these men who get to do as adults what we all dream of have ideal lives. It just isn't so, though.
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