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…related to Baseball Dynasties, but not included in the actual book.


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Baseball’s Best Dreams

by Scribbly Tate

Co-Author’s Note: A year ago, I invited my friend Scribbly Tate to participate in our project on baseball’s best teams. Now, Scribbly is an older gentleman and has lost some hearing over the years, or perhaps I did not enunciate well enough. In either case, what he submitted was the following, which, for obvious reasons, we could not use. We publish the material here because Scribbly could use the extra sawbuck that constitutes payment. And there is an oblique reference to the ’39 Yankees.

During the brief period of my marriage to the fourth or fifth Mrs. Tate, we sought the counsel of a registered marriage technician. This being the late 1960s, there was plenty of latitude regarding the manner in which marriage counselors plied their trade. In our case, the fellow was a devotee of Sigmund Freud and, therefore, was positively obsessed with dreams and the dream state. (He was also fascinated to learn that my father had met Freud on several occasions in turn-of-the-century Vienna. I don’t think he was pleased when I told him that Father thought him to be a complete crackpot.) As a way to “explore our innermost thoughts,” the counselor instructed both my wife and me to keep detailed accounts of any dreams we could remember. He would then analyze them in our presence, which, as I recall — especially concerning the recurring one I had wherein Sophia Loren and I were trapped in a room without doors or windows — did little to reinvest our disintegrating union with anything resembling a cure.

Happily for Neyer and Epstein’s book project, some of these dream journals are still extant. I, being a lifelong follower of our nation’s great game, was certain to have baseball well-embedded in my subconscious, where it would naturally burst forth as a theme or subtext throughout my excursions into the dream state. In going through the journals I identified twelve such dreams that would qualify as being “baseball dreams.” From these I have selected what I consider to be the four best. I will leave it up to the authors to choose which one, or ones, they would like to include in their manuscript. Those of you who have never kept a dream journal will no doubt be surprised by the detail. Those of you who have will understand that once one is in the habit of waking up and writing down one’s recent dreams, incredible minutia can be recalled with ease.

September 16, 1967
I am three people, this much is clear: myself, myself as a boy, and Gary Peters of the Chicago White Sox. I, as the older me, have taken the younger me to a game which is being played inside a cigar box which quickly changes into a larger cigar box. We are watching ourselves pitch. The crowd is silent. Why is this so? Is it because they have no mouths with which to cheer, no hands with which to applaud? Perhaps. A vendor appears selling life insurance. I decline full coverage. Center field opens up like a great mouth and swallows the universe. I, or we as Peters, go the route, striking out Max Alvis with the tying runs on in the ninth to end the game.

November 20, 1967
It is quickly established that all my previous conceptions about everything are wrong. In spite of this I have lots of money. In fact, I am driving a car that is made of money. I open the glove box and take out the owner’s manual, which identifies the vehicle as an “El Dinero Custom Coupe.” Its hubcaps are giant silver dollars, its seats bundles of cash stacked just so. I have no passenger, but then suddenly I do. It is Herr Hoerscht, an instructor from my school days. I remember him as being extremely strict, even by Viennese standards, but he now seems to have mellowed to the point where he is smoking a hookah in my backseat. He asks me questions in German, which I somehow answer in spite of the fact that I have forgotten the language completely.

“Why have you given your life to baseball?” he wants to know.

“Because it is a great and wondrous thing!” I tell him, noticing that we are no longer in a car but on a plastic bench in a dry-cleaning shop. Hanging in the place of clothes on the carousel are sides of beef and pork, wrapped in bags like the suits and dresses would be. “Baseball is the greatest invention of man, Herr Hoerscht! Greater than your beloved Zeppelins and even the aeroplane!” My wife enters the shop and picks up an order. She removes the meat from the bag and strips off her clothes. She stands naked for a moment before putting on the meat as if it were a pantsuit. Herr Hoerscht excuses himself and escorts her out.

“Was it something I said?” I ask as they leave together in my money car.

November 24, 1967
I am in Dallas. No, a sign reads “Utica.” But a radio is playing and the station identifies itself as being in New York City. Perhaps this is the radio next to my bed, seeping into my dream? Wherever I am, I can fly without aid of a plane. I soar over buildings and swoop through the clouds before plummeting back to earth when my flying license expires.

Yes, this is Dallas. I am in a sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Exchange watching a baseball game. I sit in the window with a stack of rotten fruit. The President goes to throw out the first pitch and I nail him in the head with a rotten tomato. I flee. I duck into a movie theater. The story of my life is playing. I buy some popcorn and settle in to watch, but at the reel change, the movie switches to Pride of the Yankees, only with an all-midget cast. I recognize the actor playing Gehrig as a member of the Lollipop Guild from The Wizard of Oz.

“Today,” he says, “I consider myself … the shortest man on the face of the earth!”

December 20, 1967
I am in the Diamond Club at Shea Stadium. I am the only one at the bar. For some reason my drink has been served to me in an empty artillery-shell casing. Suddenly, one of the team mascots, Lady Met, has sidled up next to me, blinking her lashes my way. She is, like her husband Mr. Met, a large baseball with arms and legs, although hers are curvaceous and attractive. No words are spoken, but it is clear what she wants: I am to possess her spherical, horsehide body in any way I desire. The process begins and she is incredibly responsive, especially to contact with her seams. As the moment of absolute consummation nears, there is some brief confusion on my part as to how to proceed, but Lady Met is most helpful in this regard and events reach their inevitable conclusion.

I awaken refreshed and sated.

Scribbly Tate’s columns appear weekly at robneyer.com.