Many, many years ago, I walked into a country store with my dad and brother, Ian. It was sometime in the mid- to late 1970s — I’m guessing ’77 or, more likely, ’78. We were somewhere in the middle of Vermont, if I remember correctly.
There was a black and white television on in the one of the corners of the store showing a Red Sox game. Ian and I wandered over to watch; Boston was at bat. Within a moment’s time Ian uttered the words, “Watch this guy hit a home run.”
Well, what happened next should be fairly obvious. The hitter — then-Red Sox right fielder Dwight Evans — smoked the very next pitch over the fence for a round-tripper. Other folks in the store were amazed. I was more jealous. Who was my little brother to steal everyone’s attention by successfully predicting a Red Sox home run in the middle of New England?
The crazy thing is, this was nothing all that new, this predicting-what-would-happen stuff. Ian had always shown a very peculiar clairvoyance by forecasting seemingly random things. It happened over and over again: the telephone would ring, and Ian would consistently predict who was calling. Maybe, just maybe, he was tipped off by someone in advance, but I don’t think either of my parents would be so cruel as to keep me in the dark on this for 40-plus years. He just knew, and it made me mad. Ian could predict telephone callers and home-run hitters, and my special skill was “only” memorizing baseball statistics dating back to — say — the first World Series in 1903. (A lot of that information has since been shoved aside by, arguably, even less meaningful knowledge.) Who was Ian to always show me up?
One afternoon — also in the late 1970s, or perhaps 1980 — Dad took us to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox take on the White Sox. I’m almost certain it was the first inning, and a ChiSox player named Mike Squires strode up to the plate. Being the total baseball nerd that I was, I glanced at the scoreboard and took note of Squires’ lack of power numbers. “Watch this guy hit a home run,” Ian said. Next pitch, sure enough, the ball comes sailing toward us, into the bullpen in right-center field.
I think I probably slugged Ian in the arm.
It has been a long time since Ian demonstrated these peculiar prognastic abilities, at least in my presence. Maybe it was all luck. Maybe whatever magic he had as a kid wore off. Maybe he just doesn’t want me to slug him again.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if all this was coincidence or some sort of mysterious force at play. I started thinking about all this the other day while watching the Twins take on the Indians.
Zachary, who at age 7 is showing admirable patience with an inconsistent Twins team, was with me and laying out the situation in front of us during a 4-1 ballgame our squad was actually winning. “There’s a guy on first and a guy on second,” he said. “If this guy hits a double, it will be 5-1. If this guy hits a triple, it will be 6-1. And, if he hits a HOME RUN” — he turns to me and smiles — “it will be 7-1!”
Well, what do you know? The very next pitch, Torii Hunter hits a big fly to left, and the Twins grab a six-run lead. Zach jumped out of his chair, beaming; we fist-bumped. And I thought of my brother, who I have shared so much baseball with over the years. I thought of how much baseball I can’t wait to share with Zach.
I don’t care if I ever call a home run myself.