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Bats, bases & banknotes

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In the early days of this year's baseball strike, I hesitated to speak up lest my remarks be construed as meddling in a matter that no longer concerns me. Most of the commentary I saw was done by outsiders, whereas I, as a retired professional baseball player, would have the keener insight and for that might be criticized. Now that the strike has passed from absurdity into foolishness, I feel I may speak, and shall. Carl Yastrzemski and I have at least one thing in common -- left field. I was never an infielder, as even ground balls would go over my head, but I was reasonably able with the bat and was therefore kept in left field, which in our park was swampy. In our league, which was post-high-school, hardly anybody could hit a ball the shortstop couldn't reach, so the summer would dawdle along and I was mostly lonesome and idle out there. My career with the home Town Team was purely amateur, but circumstances turned me into a professional in my fourth season. I played four games for the neighboring town of Yarmouth at four dollars a game.

Yarmouth had an excellent left fielder who handled a good bat, but he was caught in the wrong henhouse one night and spent the summer in the pockey atoning for his mistake. I never got caught in a henhouse, so I was approached to play in his stead until better arrangements could be made. My own team, which was Freeport, had spare outfielders, so when we talked it over the boys felt it would be all right for me to oblige the Yarmouths. The four dollars were "for carfare," as I had to ride to Yarmouth on the old cross-country electric trolley line, but as the round trip was only 60 cents I had clearly left the amateur standing. I wore my Freeport uniform when I went to play at Yarmouth -- our uniforms were supplied by local storekeepers, and on the back of my shirt it said, "Curtis Market." I played under the name of Luke Gill (you can look it up) and to conceal my out-of-town identity further I wore a sweatshirt with a big "Y" on it to cover the Curtis Market. Y was for Yarmouth, but inside the neck of the sweatshirt was stamped, "Property Athletic Dept. Yale Univ."

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