Last week, the author began a five-part series recounting notable home runs he’s conceded during his life as a nearly decent baseball pitcher at various levels.
Date: April, 1998
Level: High School
Place: Nash Field at Milton Academy in Milton, MA (Link)
One advantage of having relocated my dumb body to Paris, France, this past fall is that it’s allowed me to become acquainted with a comestible known as mille-feuille (proncounced meal-FIE, roughly). While there are probably variations on the theme of same, mille-feuille is generally speaking a dessert composed of multiple, alternating layers of a leaf-thin puff pastry and then custard-type cream which, when consumed all together by an adult man, gives him a desire in his heart to impregnate the whole world at once.
The scenario which provides the raw material for the fourth installment of this five-part tribute to failure, is not unlike mille-feuille — if, that is, the aforementioned puff pasty were accidentally combined not with a custard-type cream, but with considerable disgrace, instead.
In extra innings of a tie game against the Rivers School during my senior year of high school, I was called from second base (where I’d started the game) to replace whomever was pitching for us. The bases were loaded with either no outs or maybe one out. As the reader will learn shortly, the precise figure is inessential.
Despite the fact that the game was at Milton, we were actually playing as the away team. As is often the case in New England in early spring, the weather hadn’t been excellent of late, rendering Rivers’ own field unplayable. As such, they’d traveled to our slightly less miserable field to deliver embarrassment right to my doorstep.
As the pitcher for the away side, then, I entered the game having to record either two or three outs without conceding a single run. Indeed, I made some headway in this endeavor almost immediately. Utilizing a pick-off I’d had ample opportunity to perfect during my high-school career — what with the great quantity of baserunners I’d allowed over same — I managed to retire the runner at first base.
“Bien joué, Carson Cistulli,” was the sentiment, more or less, from the literally ones of fans gathered on the small incline behind the backstop.
This is where the good news ends, however. Perhaps from an excess of caution, or maybe just because I wasn’t very talented, I walked the next batter — loading the bases once again.
To say that the next batter hit a home run — a grand slam, in fact, where just a single run would have been sufficient — is to say something accurate. To note that the home run in question resulted in the rare walk-off win for a visiting team — compelling my teammates to trudge sullenly from their own field into the locker room — also represents an exercise in truth. To say, finally, that the ball traveled not just over the left-field fence, but also hit the actual house of a well-like faculty member, causing minor, but also quite real, property damage — this is also very much the sad, sad case.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. More or less.