Roy Howell Is Oral Tradition

Roy Howell is oral tradition.

You never saw Roy Howell play

If you are of a certain age, then you may believe you have seen Roy Howell play our baseball. You did not because he did not.

If your grandfather tells you of seeing Roy Howell kick the third-base bag to dislodge the loam from spikes after smiting a triple, then call your grandfather the liar he is.

For Roy Howell is the boy asking what the graveyard is as the car whisks past it and he is the mother driving the car who aches for quiet and he is the dead stevedore buried in that graveyard and he is the dosage of gruel spooned into his mouth each night at assisted living before he wound up in the graveyard that the boy is asking about.

You did not see Roy Howell play our baseball. If you are a dried old river, you may have read of Roy Howell in the etchings upon the basalt, but you did not see Roy Howell play our baseball. Do not call him spectral. You may call him the moment the specter was created, but don’t you know he is not even that. If you are a limestone cave, then the stalactites and the slow raindrops that made them may have told you about seeing Roy Howell play, but they are as empty of truth as any grandfather who said he saw Roy Howell play.

For Roy Howell played only in stories. Once the stories stop, Roy Howell will go on playing our baseball, but then only the stories will tell stories. Roy Howell is the words squaws used to soothe their children. The roaming trappers stole those words and gave them to brute soldiers who told them to their sons who had sons of their own who became stevedores buried in graves yoked to the seasons by the roadside. And every word they used was about not having seen Roy Howell play our baseball.

For Roy Howell is oral tradition.

Print This Post

Handsome Dayn Perry can be found making love to the reader at's Eye on Baseball. He is available for all your Twitter needs.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Roy Howell’s Mjolnir (not pictured): not a hammer but a mighty splinter of ash