A UNIVERSAL EMOTION

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(This memory, written in 2006, is sort of a pre-companion piece to Brian Smith's misery-in-baseball story, "Fly Ball," Metro Times, April 7, 2010.)

A young fellow on the bus, light mocha color, bald head shined, creaked open my file of memories. He wore a white knit football jersey. "D. THOMAS" on back with Thomas' number in gold-lined black. This Thomas must be only one of the Thomases on his team. This fan was maybe 22.

At age 9 or 10, my parents bought me a full, gray — believe me — woolen Chicago White Sox replica uniform, with cap, (My dad's Go-Go Sox won the 1959 pennant; I remember their lineup decades later.) I'd begged them for the uniform, which they warned me must not get dirty. I was last picked, played mostly right out at our pick-up games, unless someone had it in for me and put me at catcher. ("Hey, Chicago White Sox!") The uniform could not remain clean. I wore it maybe three times, the rest in jeans and T-shirts, me like a pig in a sauna room in August, sweating pointlessly, suffocating in embarrassment. Humiliating? It was then, is now, will ever be, no matter how many blackboards I filled with "What an Idiot" or what beseeching useless rosaries I might say.


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