I didn’t ask Jack McDowell about the thrill of winning a Cy Young. I didn’t ask him about growing up in Van Nuys California in the San Fernando Valley where I worked for eleven years and I didn’t ask him about getting to the bigs after only 27 innings of minor league ball. Didn’t ask him about Stanford or being a number one draft choice of the White Sox in 1987, fifth overall.

I asked him about the four albums he’d recorded with his band Stickfigure and he smiled and laughed. He said no, there’s no music to download in the internet, no records likely floating around in the bin racks at used record stores.

“I wish guys like you could play forever,” I said. I shook his huge hand, his fingers almost crawling up to my elbow. He’d thrown out the first pitch at the Epicenter on a sunny hot Sunday afternoon and the long right arm ended up almost in the dirt, the trademark Black Jack delivery still going strong.

He had the ‘live’ arm as they called it, nasty stuff coming down off his six foot five inch frame and he hid the ball as well as anyone, ninety-plus with movement shooting out of his hip or his elbow that he’d whip at you.

I don’t think pitchers ever shave, at least not when they’re scheduled to go live, and Black Jack had gray going in the scruff spreading on his face and on his head.

He was ready for me, for anyone wanting to shake hands and get autographs. I’d asked the girl at the table out front about Jack’s career and she smiled but said ‘don’t know’ when I mentioned the music and I pointed to the program guide and the mention of Stickfigure and Yahoo sports and the Cy Young.

I’d take that resume. Baseball and music and writing.

I didn’t ask him about Roger Clemens, I didn’t ask him about Barry Bonds. I didn’t ask him if he wishes he was still playing, in US Cellular Field instead of old Comiskey, but I don’t think he minds a bit. Didn’t ask him how he might like to play with the Sox today under Ozzie Guillen with players like Orlando Cabrera and Jim Thome and Alexei Ramirez and A J Pierzynski and maybe the best team in baseball.

Didn’t’ have time. I only had thirty seconds.

1 comment:

Timecheck said...

Great capture of a moment in time - a lot like those ephemeral trail friendships. You meet someone going the opposite direction, chat a few seconds re bears, water, who you passed, and then never see that person again.