I Can’t Go On (I’ll Go On)

Whatever skills help me cope with blindness, I learned by being a baseball fan.  A White Sox fan, to be precise.  White Sox fans become strong, according to humorist Jean Shepherd, “because they have known death every day of their lives and it holds no terror for them.”

Back in ‘59, I listened to the White Sox lose the World Series. The voice on my transistor radio belonged to Bob Elson, nicknamed “Professor.” “Errors,” he said, “like runs and hits, are all part of the game.”  That reality, and my first reading of Casey at the Bat, molded my nine year-old soul.

Seasons pass.  The ’83 Sox almost won it all.  The 2005 Sox really did.  Between the two seasons, I lost my eyesight.  The 2013 Sox lost 99 games.  Worse, they gave up.  Losing is understandable; quitting is inexcusable.  As the 2014 White Sox take the field, Sox fans take leave of the lessons of history.  Last year’s failures are forgotten; resilience is renewed. 

Tonight, I listen to Ken Harrelson, nicknamed “Hawk,” on White Sox TV.  He expounds on perfecting the hit and run play, on avoiding that dreaded leadoff walk.   Hawk is spare with description; I fill in what I don’t see and what Hawk doesn’t say.  The Sox are two runs down in the bottom of the ninth.  I’m skeptical, but Hawk says we can come back, one batter at a time.

Hawk chronicles one pop out, one base hit, one walk, another hit, another walk or two, one ground out.  Bases loaded, two outs.  I’m still skeptical.  Then the crack of the bat and Hawk calls the grand slam.  Sox win!  Sox win!  Hawk is shouting, “These kids just won’t quit!”  And I listen and relearn my life lesson.  “These kids,” says Hawk, “just won’t quit!”  

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5 Responses to I Can’t Go On (I’ll Go On)

  1. bethfinke says:

    Great post, Jeff. One of your best. And you probably know that Mike and I were at that game! Let’s Go, Go, Go White Sox!


  2. Jane thomas says:

    Very inspiring story, Jeff. And then there are those of us who are Cub fans…..

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      Thanks Beth and Jane! My original opening line was, “I don’t often experience Heaven and Hell, except while listening to White Sox games.” And last night, when the outfielder dropped the fly ball in the ninth that led to the losing run, I sunk. But blaming the outfielder was only finding a convenient scapegoat wand overlooking how the Sox had squandered scoring opportunities, how the starting pitcher’s wild pitch led to the Tigers’ first run and a host of other contributing factors. Such reflection helps me gain balance and that balance extends to other areas of life. Then there are those who say dismissively that baseball is only a game. Well, so is life then.

  3. bethfinke says:

    One of my favorite baseball book titles: How Life Imitates the World Series (by Tom Boswell).

  4. nbollero says:

    Great post !

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