|Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
THE PITCHER AT SHADY ACRES
“Hey Sonny, let me tell you how Whitey Ford would work it.”
That’s Ernie Rudolph advising fellow Westlake Village resident and minor league baseball pitcher Josh Faiola how to set up a batter for a third strike. Did you catch the Westlake Village part? Faiola is living in a retirement village, the Belvedere of Westlake, as part of a cost saving Frontier League move to integrate the ballplayers with the community. In this case it’s a retirement community so with Failoa living there they just lowered the average resident age to 82.
Faiola loves it because every time he pitches, a group of his neighbors make it to the ballpark, even on weekday afternoons.
“It’s not like we have to take off work,” says fellow resident, Meda Dennis. “Bridge can wait.”
You do not make much money in Class A ball, so the team normally places their players in family homes, usually in those with younger children. But, in this case Faiola, being about 55 years younger than the rest of his roommates, is the youngster.
“Now, I don’t have such a problem getting the grandkids to visit,” says Paula Greenberg, “they want to meet a ballplayer.”
“Don’t get cut, move your butt!” is one of the posters residents made and took to a Lake Erie Crushers game to support Josh. After one road trip, Josh came back to find his building decorated in appreciative banners and crafts, even baseball cards with the residents faces printed on them.
“Where else is he going to find out about Sal Maglie, Drysdale, or Bullet Bob Feller?” asks Sid Kilbane. “Do you think any of his team mates ever seen these guys? Betty Cahill, I bet, has seen more baseball than his manager.”
“Sore arm, aching shoulders, does he need someone who understands?” asks Norma Lane. “He doesn’t have to turn very far. I’ll tell him to save his fast ball, don’t use it on every hitter. Save it for the tough outs. I’ve seen too many wear their arms out. I dated a few ballplayers in my day but I can’t say much about it in a family paper.”
We approve of this idea of mixing the players in with old-folks homes. It should happen more often. Be part of the folk lore. If it were up to me, I’d rewrite Bull Durham with Helen Mirren playing the Susan Sarandon part. If you don’t know who Helen Mirren is, she’s an actress voted “Sexiest Woman over 60.” Of course, that’s one of those elections where they close the polls at 4 pm… so everyone can make it to the early bird special.
Still, she could’ve been the cougar to Tim Robbin’s Nuke LaLoosh. You remember the scene where Nuke dreams about pitching in a negligee? We’d recast it to have Betty White and her buddies in the stands wolf whistling Nuke into a no-hitter. Then they all go out for ice cream where instead of room keys, sets of false teeth are left on the table. Okay, strike all the Betty White and Helen Mirren suggestive suggestions. This is a sweet story, devoid of tawdriness and shall remain that way.
|Silliman On Sports
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