Getting Real: Chapter 53 – Part 5

From my restful position, my eyes caught sight of the clock on the table, which registered at six thirty. A short impulse to panic subsided quickly as I realized no one would be pounding on my door this evening. As my eyes again closed to quiet repose, I envisioned the lineup cards being posted before the Opener in Cincinnati:

…………….. COLTS …… VS……. REDS…

1. Eddie Kasko—shortstop – Pete Rose—second base

2. Nellie Fox—second base – Chico Ruiz—third base

3. John Paciorek—center field – Vada Pinson—center field

4. Walt Bond—first base – Frank Robinson—right field

5. Rusty Staub—right field – Gordy Coleman—first base

6. Jim Wynn—left field – Bob Skinner—left field

7. Bob Aspromonte—third base – Johnny Edwards—catcher

8. John Bateman—catcher – Leo Cardenas—shortstop

9. Ken Johnson—pitcher – Jim Maloney—pitcher

Our Major-League team was breaking camp tomorrow, Sunday, April 12, a day before the first “real game.” It would give us a day to acclimate to the colder weather. Since spring training began in February, I had been anxious to make the team and be in the starting lineup for the opening game against the Reds. After a magnificent spring, the team and I were anxious to begin the regular season and see how long we could keep alive our “magical ride to the championship.”

The plane for Cincinnati took off at 10:00 am. As I watched the smiling faces of players who made the roster, I couldn’t help but empathize with those not present. They would continue their “training” with hopes that someday they would attain the status of a big-league player.

As I felt the swirling winds of time settling in on my present perspective, I could feel and see the plane ascending over the horizon, in its two-hour flight to the start of a new baseball season. All players would have the same new opportunity to begin again. How they prepared themselves yesterday would determine the success they’d find today and its tomorrow.

The joy of first-time big-league experience is the fulfillment of countless childhood dreams, imagining glorified moments of grandeur. Sustaining the moment will become the art of allowing the confidence-boosting high-vibrational impulses to flow by the highest level of frequency that each is presently capable of inducing.

The empty seat next to Steve’s would forever be my reminder of the sometimes harsh reality in “that world” outside of dreams. But a new realization, within the “real world,” would make it possible to now appreciate the “contrast.” Though it was once intimidating, now I will simply rise above any present dire circumstance to a higher perspective. There I will ultimately reap benefits from an expanded sense of mental and physical competency.

Monday’s game would begin at 1:00 pm. The lineups were announced and the “cards” presented to the umpires prior to the first pitch. It was without a sudden, unexpected sense of disappointment that one prominent name was unobtrusively replaced in the visiting team’s lineup. It would have been an unconscionable act of omission had the “world of dreams” maintained its credibility in the unimaginative “world of reality.”

…………COLTS……..………….. REDS

1. Eddie Kasko—shortstop – Pete Rose—second base

2. Nellie Fox—second base – Chico Ruiz—third base

3. Pete Runnels—first base – Vada Pinson—center field

4. Walt Bond—left field – Frank Robinson—right field

5. Rusty Staub—right field – Gordy Coleman—first base

6. Jim Wynn—center field – Bob Skinner—left field

7. Bob Aspromonte—third base – Johnny Edwards—catcher

8. John Bateman—catcher – Leo Cardenas—shortstop

9. Ken Johnson—pitcher – Jim Maloney—pitcher

Before fully awakening into the realm of present reality, I remembered the conclusion of that transcending day, as it highlighted a victorious new beginning for a team with which my fondest desire would have conspired to be an integral part— Colt .45s, 6; Reds, 3.

After the last vestige of gossamer filament removed itself from the lids of my imaginative time-space warp, my eyes opened widely to the brilliant expanse of a small but fortified study. With all necessary machinations of modern technology, the accoutrements for conducting a normal, daily regimen was fully in notice. It felt as though half dozen months had gone by, but the physical evidence showed that I simply had gone to sleep just twelve hours earlier.

THE END


Getting Real – Part 4!

Continuation of Chapter 53 of my Book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now!

Then a quiet voice from within the shadows spoke, “As any individual can make himself to become a ‘naturally’ good ‘player of the game’ through repetitive practice, he cannot be the ‘best hitter he could be’ unless he somehow attains the scientific understanding of the intricate details supporting the mechanism of swinging the bat properly.”

Silently, I found myself spontaneously agreeing with that profound statement. Then instinctively, I uttered, “Scientific understanding and application of the principle of batting will most certainly provide a batting competency that would supersede the level of proficiency of most batsmen. But without the supplementary metaphysical prerequisite to absolute application, maximum productivity would not be forthcoming, even in the ‘best’ of ‘good hitters.’”

Socrates smiled intuitively at Plato then, with unrestrained excitement, delivered his next statement in the direction of our “shadow image.”

“My protégé and I had contemplated a ‘trilateral’ collaboration with you since we first began the perusal of your voluminous works. We knew we’d eventually make your acquaintance but hardly could have imagined doing so under the auspices of such uniquely providential circumstances.”

Plato turned to the adjacent shadow, and his voice directed his message at me, “What better means of extrapolating the essence of one’s own inspired imagination than by utilizing his own genetic resources to produce the prototypical applicant for research and development?”

While mentally aligning the sentiments of Plato’s discourse, my mind glimpsed the import of the biblical expression, “The last shall be first, and the first, last!” Suspicions had pervaded my mental landscape but never accumulated enough concrete evidence to further my premature assumptions. Only within the nebulous framework of childish imagination could I have presumed such an improbable coincidence that would have connected me to J. F. P. It was even less likely to contrive such fantasy in the wildest of dreams.

But here I was, in a remarkably incoherent position of having to find legitimate reasons for disavowing the credible evidence that might validate why I appeared to be somewhat of an anomaly in a “time” not yet ready to accept a verification thereof. Could a person’s future change, or preclude, the events of his past to accommodate the actual good intentions he did have but did nothing to enhance his status at any other “present time”?

Could a person, the same person, have the mental facility to appropriate a physical reality that would consolidate more than one dimension of time? (Might forgiveness be truly defined by its literally expressed sentiment—to make happen that which preceded what would be effaced, thus “fore-give-ness”?) Could a mind, like that of Jesus, provide the mental faculties to activate a healing process for an adult with blindness when he/she was “born blind”?

Coming Soon – Part 5!

Getting Real – Part 3!

Continuation of Chapter 53 of my Book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now.

Through a transparent mist, a panoramic scope of a vast baseball history came into view. And I appeared to be in the company of not two but three other observers, with mutual admiration for the sporting activity we had become accustomed to enjoying as a game called baseball. Our endless journey would attempt to extract from hope the eternal promise of assurance that “becoming” eventuates into “true being.”

Perched high above the clamor of enthusiastic fanfare, Socrates, Plato, myself, and The Other—as restrained spectators—quietly engaged in a traditional dialogue about the nuances of the game. Our choices of viewing location varied along heavenly porches, upon the rooftop of any stadium that afforded prime viewing. There we would witness the glorious competition below, which triumphantly celebrated the athletic prowess of at least eighteen stellar performers in our midst.

In the relative solitude of our lofty perch, only the faintness of extraneous sound vaporized in its skyward trek. Our philosophical impressions were innocently conveyed to each other in summations that only acquiesced to the game’s simplistic appeal.

Plato sounded out the first volley of reasonable commentary with the words, “Sports fans, have we not been witnessing within the framework of organized athletics an activity which truly embodies the essence of divine intervention?” Socrates affirmatively replied with a nod but quickly asked, “How can such heavenly synchronization be conjoined to the conscious deployment of human intent?”


I thought of my days of youth—when my brother, friends, and I would swarm onto any grassy area of Lasky or Jayne Field and pitch four improvised bases down within the parameters of a diamond-shaped infield. We’d then start a game of baseball, whose customary “nine inning” time frame was circumvented to better accommodate a continuity preempted only by the setting sun.

If eight or nine players were on each team, all fields were fair. But most often we played with five or fewer on each side. These scenarios made it practical to designate one area of the field automatically “out” if the batter hit the ball there. That designated area was always the right field side, because no one we knew batted lefthanded. And all batters, therefore, unwittingly developed the tendency to “pull the ball” to left. (If we knew then what we would know later, we could have developed a strategy for hitting pitches away to the opposite field.)

Coming Soon: Part 4.

Getting Real – Part 2

From my Book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now:

As I lay on my back, hands clasped behind my head, while my eyes focused on the ceiling above, I thought, How could it be possible for me (or anyone) to perform at a higher level than that at which I had been performing? If I can reach an even “higher level,” would that not mean that “everyone” was capable? But would anyone even want to do what I am doing to perform at “peak proficiency”? I questioned myself.

I knew “they” would love to perform as I have been performing. But would they believe that they could do what I am doing (other than in their wildest dreams)? Could they recognize what it is they would have to do besides? “Many (all) would be called, but only few (if any) would be able to choose,” to paraphrase a thought stimulated by a biblical reference.

I wondered momentarily what was, or what would be, happening in the fields of martial arts and boxing as Bruce and Cassius make known the effects of higher standards in their respective realms of innovation. I guess time would tell!

I pondered my baseball future in this ultra-conservative arena of “slow-changing” sports-minded mentality. It would seem almost impossible for America’s pastime to quickly adapt to the metaphysical principles ascertained by Abraham and J. F. P., as well as their progenitors of sequentially enhanced thought. The ultimate promotion of highest skill-level development seems too distant in the future. Only Einstein (and I) might “imagine” an era when the speed of human thought might equal or surpass that of E=MC2 and provide a viable formula for baseball batting success unparalleled to anything in previous sports history.

While thoughts were swirling within my mind’s generating mechanism, inducing a constant stream of stimulating vibrational impulses, I felt an unusual sense of “ease.” My body gave the impression of weightlessness, as it seemed to carry itself beyond all present circumstances into an esoteric realm of infinite possibilities.

The first thought to stimulate inquiry was the recollection of a brief statement by the “second woman”—of A Course in Miracles—in my initial dream sequence: “You cannot reach heaven alone.” It seemed subtly intriguing at the time, but whose expanded meaning never registered until now. As in baseball, that heavenly state of championship quality cannot be reached in the aspiration of/for just one player. He must perceive that all his teammates are “there” with him. In heaven’s parlance, “he must see as God sees!” He can’t be in heaven without seeing his teammates there with him!

The momentum from that idea fostered a recollection of another intriguing essay of J. F. P. titled “Optimal Success Cannot Be Attained Independently.” Excerpts read as follows:

Barry Bonds was the greatest hitter in Baseball history. He had beaten Hank Aaron’s Home Run record, and was the only player in (out of) the Game who had the potential to be a perennial .400-hitter. He had been named Baseball’s Most Valuable Player 7 times, and had been a contender for “Sportsman of the year” and “person of the year” honors, at least on one occasion. Yet the ultimate quality of his successful career was diminished by the fact that his teams had never won the highest of honors, “World Series Championship.”

Why should that fact take anything away from the quality of his individual success? It doesn’t, but in exploring both the philosophical and spiritual contributors to highest expectation and achievement, it cannot be denied that had his team won the World Series, it would have been his “Crowning Achievement.”

History has shown that kings and power-mongers have been only minimally successful in the “long-run” because their constituencies didn’t seem to share a compatible sense of prestige and greatness. A leader is always appreciated as one who shines above the rest, with certain magnanimous qualities. But the atmosphere of godliness wears thin when his human vulnerability displays such unsavory characteristics as “hubris” and other forms of incivility. Lack of collective commitment, to serve only personal aggrandizement, usually renders the highest universal achievement unaffordable. A complete success would have to entail the fruition of the whole.

One who would be a true leader of a team is he whose exemplary physical and mental composition complies with the exact nature of “team spirit.” He would have to be the embodiment of those qualities that would inspire others to appreciate the intrinsic need for compatibility and cooperation to achieve a collective goal.

Barry Bonds definitively embodied those personal attributes (as did Alexander the Great) to inspire his teammates to their collectively highest glory! And he also appeared to have certain characteristics that would have inspired others to emulate his greatness. But, for him to have realized his ultimate-goal of capturing the World Series Crown, he would have had to thoroughly understand that each member of his team was as integral a part of that fabric of unity as he was. The tension of the finely knitted team-fabric must not exceed the delicate bounds of generously enthusiastic applause and constructive criticism, within a framework of genuinely compassionate camaraderie.

I absolutely concurred with everything the “author” implied about teamwork and team spirit. I would guess that the writer of A Course in Miracles would also agree. I believed that I had naturally embodied those sentiments in my own thoughts about my teammates and their progressive climbs toward ultimate proficiency. My own constant inspiration was to do my best, and I had hoped that theirs would be the same.

Coming Soon: Part 3!

CHAPTER 53 – Getting Real! Part 1.

From my Book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now:

After the team’s final 1964 spring training game, most sports reporters were clamoring around me. Even those who were interviewing my teammates were asking what they thought about my performance. I told the reporters that I had simply lived up to my highest expectations for this particular day. And I felt that my teammates had done the same! “If you thought I performed well today, let’s wait and see if I can perform in a similar fashion when the real games begin in two days,” I told them. But I thought to myself, Is it even possible to have a better game than today’s? If not, what would be the next logical conclusion? If the darkest hour always precedes the dawning of the new light, then when its brilliance comes to full effulgence, does it not seem reasonable to presume that “one’s finest hour should prefigure some form of impending gloom? Could greatness be sustained within the grasp of hubris? As I pondered the ramifications of greatness, I remembered Socrates reading a short essay by J. F. P. It read as follows:

Greatness is a humanly exaggerated or a spiritually magnified sense of being. To be extolled with greatness, one must step up above one’s peers, beyond the casualness of conformity, into the altitude of “Uniqueness,” wherein the atmosphere of Soul the inspiration of life a lesser man cannot inhale. The greatest man that ever walked the earth was once asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest among us?” At one time, he told them that “. . . of a man born of a woman, none was greater than John the Baptist. Albeit, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Later, he answered by taking a little child and placing him/her in their midst and saying, “. . . of such is the kingdom of heaven. He who would be greatest among you, let him humble himself and become as a little child.”

Arriving at my room, I immediately sat at my bedside and pondered the succession of wonderful incidents that took place during today’s game. I realized that I had reached that point in my brief career that had surpassed the highest expectations of anyone who had previously played the game of baseball. Not long ago, it would have satisfied my greatest aspirations to merely progress to a point of making it onto a “big-league” baseball team. For a player to hit the ball hard every time he swung his bat would certainly be a high accomplishment, worthy of admiration. And to be one of nine or twenty-five or forty players to play a pivotal role in establishing a championship team would be cause to generate a sense of pride that might override any previous personal accomplishment or disappointment. But what I did today went beyond what I, or anyone, could have expected of a baseball player. The strange sequence of events occurring over the past six months had set into motion what easily could have been considered a “paradigm shift.” It had affected me in a way that could not be totally appreciated nor understood by those with whom I was presently sharing my physical reality. I seemed to have become an enigma, as a player who is living in an era not yet ready to comply with such new standard of technological enhancement. Such criteria might impose itself as being the vanguard to advanced baseball ingenuity and prosperity. Where and how do I fit into this dimension of extreme athletic proficiency?

My thoughts immediately recalled Plato’s reading, from J. F. P.’s essay, the subsequent verses to “Baseball’s Glory”:
The game of Baseball will eventually receive a “facelift” that inevitably will introduce a new paradigm into the minds and hearts of modern baseball enthusiasts. A new story of America’s beloved pastime is at the point of superseding the original model. The beauty and grandeur of a glorious past will soon reinvent itself in a form suitable to days immemorial. In Baseball, the singular concepts of individual and collective (team) excellence are intertwined masterfully. The proficiency of each player on offense and on defense will determine his individual worth. And the excellence towards which he strives for himself and his team will endear him to his mates and adoring fans. As each player accomplishes his own mastery, the team itself should be beneficiary of a collectively successful enterprise. And each player should also become beneficiary to the collective worth of the team.

Baseball’s enduring attributes, to all levels of civilized society, are those which foster relevance to equal opportunity for the individual, and a sense of genuine contribution to a collective effort. These afford respect that cannot be diminished by an insignificant standard to a presumably less significant status. Every player in a line-up bats. And, every position is held equally accountable for mental and physical errors. The standard is the same for all players! What can be a fairer way of evaluating performance? Is there any other arena for “Sports” that epitomizes the universal “American Experience” more than that displayed on Baseball’s level field of play? In Baseball, the adage, “one for all, and all for one,” rings true in the hearts and minds of these “9 Musketeers,” with their collectively idealistic sense of purpose.

What other sport besides Baseball involves so many individuals in a collective endeavor? All have equal opportunities to be exalted to the full range of glory. They all play positions where equality of skill cannot be differentiated for maximum results. Size is never a preponderant factor. And, potentially, remuneration for services should never alienate players, or create team dissension?

Except for what could be considered brief lapses in moral consciousness (early segregationist issues, and its latter insidious bout with steroid controversy), the level playing field of Baseball has remained virtually intact. Its pristine elements are continually being unfolded. (Even the latest “Steroid Controversies” that have stirred up a hornet’s nest will ultimately subside, and the game will resume, but with a renewed sense of moral legitimacy.)

The world has fast become a theatrical stage for public sentiment to display both outrageous and benevolent characterizations of humanity. A universal demand for the highest possible standard of excellence should be embodied by those who would be model-heroes for aspiring youth. Bickering over the trivialities concerning absurd compensatory packaging, and equating successful performance levels to the artificial inflation of one’s artistic potential, are two areas where public scrutiny will exhibit least toleration, even toward heroes. Once Baseball has cleaned up its Act, on Steroid Controversy, and engages itself with its ever-expanding dilemma involving inequitable player compensation, then the certainty of its utopian appeal will be more in evidence. Until then, while Baseball is still America’s endearing National Pastime, it certainly holds the prospect of being embraced universally.

Coming Soon: Part 2!

A Hero: Everyone Wants To Be One

“Hero-worshipping” is merely a mortal means of aspiring to something more than individuals are typically capable of achieving as themselves. Those who are actual Heroes (of any sort) usually become such out of moments of desperation whereby they are inspired by an internal force to bring the body’s scattered inherent energies into the focus of “self-determination” to overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to their maximum intent. 
As in Bonnie Tyler’s limited mortal plea for solace, her song reveals:
Late at night I toss and I turn
And I dream of what I need
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
Then she says:
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight…
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life! 

Those ingenious creators of imaginary heroes of Song, T V, Movie, and Comic-Book fame have captured the essence of the “virtual-reality” their imaginative thinking have presented to them in their dreams. And their artistic talent has projected the exaggerated images of characters for whom they might have aspired to become in “Physical-Reality”!
Super-Heroes have been depicted in Comic-Books for years. Superman and Marvel Comics have captured popular appeal as means of escaping the mundane portrayal of ordinary semi-impotent Lives of stagnant complacency. And modern technological advancement has enhanced the product of “special-effects” to a point of close-proximity to the virtual-reality of dreams.
Songs, Comic Books and exaggerated depictions of Science Fiction Movies don’t appeal much to my taste unless they include a mental, metaphysical component that provides relevancy to the prospect of an underlying, unseen cause to every effect.

Intelligent, practical minds have concluded the impracticality of placing faith in the recent onslaught of promises from “virtual-reality.” But, if new and higher aspirations arise from the ashes of the false hopes in Matter’s ethereal insubstantiality to the spiritual dimension of Heaven’s Vibrational Reality, then the product manifested in Earth’s physical reality can be more practically and consistently applied.

Mariah Carey’s song by Enrique Iglesias fashions a greater sense a “true-hero”:
There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart 
You don’t have to be afraid…
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know 
Will melt away
And then a hero comes along 
With the strength to carry on

And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong 
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you. 

Real-life heroes in Citizenship, Science, Art&Cinema, Medicine, Technology, Business, Sports, and Government are those whose examples of success depict more than superficial material temporal personal-gain but divulge the underlying pre-eminent cause that would be the inspiration for all who would aspire to emulate the highest standard for Achievement. Movies and Books sometimes (but often inaccurately) portray individuals as instantaneous heroes who at precise moments in Time disregard circumstance and act instinctively while responding to critical situations with uncommon valor or unperturbed confidence.

From where does the power come in those brief instances, and why does it seem more infrequent than anyone would desire or expect? On my website, www.johnpaciorek.com and in my latest Book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, I often refer to Principle and abiding within its infinite parameters as the bases for “ultimate-success” in Sports as well as other fields of endeavor.
On my website, the title of which is, Paciorek’s Principle of Perfect Practice – Simplicity, I’ve written almost 200 essays elaborating on many aspects comprising the Game of Baseball, while breaking down the fundamental mechanics that would facilitate the Perfect practice to insure the proper application of Principle to a baseball player’s batting, throwing, and fielding of a baseball. The Book afore-mentioned is the third of a series that began with The Principle of Baseball: And All There is to Know about Hitting. The second is entitled, Plato and Socrates: Baseball’s Wisest Fans (Unpublished).
Since the first two Books were more on a level of the Work-Book variety, I later realized that its boring “instructional” format and its minute descriptions of the intricate mechanically precise detail would not hold the interest of those who were not sincerely intent on improving their skills to the highest level of proficiency. Even one prominent Big-League player to whom I offered my particular-service found it difficult to accept the valid points I brought out to his agent who agreed and attempted to persuade him of the veracity thereof.
I thought that Shawn Green, whom I felt had enormous potential to be the next Ted Williams, was an outstanding baseball player. He was tall, sleek, and a powerful hitter because of the speed at which he swung a bat. (He was similar in physical dimensions and potential to current Dodger “Phenom” Cory Bellinger.) In the letter I sent to him via his agent, Jeff Moorad, I explained why he was having difficulty hitting the inside fastball and/or keeping it fair. He responded kindly, as the gentleman he was, but said he was intent on retaining the batting stance that he felt was instrumental in getting him to the Big-Leagues. 
What Shawn and many lesser-skilled batters do not understand is that if they do not measure their success by the Principle of Perfect Bats-man-ship but prefer rather to express their natural, phenomenal artistic talent, they will soon find that the youthful vigor upon which they relied heavily to display their physical prowess with acute flexibility and quick reflexes will eventually diminish and inexplicable futility will abound.

Baseball is a complex game, whose primary component of “hitting a baseball” effectively is the most difficult thing to do in all of Sport.That is why I decided to write my third Book as a Novel. Perhaps, I thought, if I presented the essential ingredients for Baseball Batting Prowess in a format that would relax the reader into a mesmeric state of following the simple-life of a recognizable  “One-day Wonder” from birth to a 17 year old adult, the tantalizing experiences of youth might captivate a sports-oriented audience and elicit from readers who would aspire to “greatness” the motivation to “go and do likewise.”
(An excerpt from the final chapter of my Book comments on Greatness:
As I pondered the ramifications of greatness, I remembered Socrates reading a short essay by J. F. P. It read as follows:
Greatness is a humanly exaggerated or a spiritually magnified sense of being. To be extolled with greatness, one must step up above one’s peers, beyond the casualness of conformity, into the altitude of “Uniqueness,” wherein the atmosphere of Soul the inspiration of life a lesser man cannot inhale. The greatest man that ever walked the earth was once asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest among us?” At one time, he told them that “. . . of a man born of a woman, none was greater than John the Baptist. Albeit, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Later, he answered by taking a little child and placing him/her in their midst and saying, “. . . of such is the kingdom of heaven. He who would be greatest among you, let him humble himself and become as a little child.”)
The Book was meant to occupy the literary genre of Auto-Biographical Fiction, which means it is mostly a true story. But the author would have the reader presume, from the authentic continuum of sequential facts of historical significance, that all of the story could be true, if some notoriously implausible displays of athletic prowess were indeed possible. Thus, the author’s literary license to embellish the protagonist’s character with what could be referred to as a “Super-Human” Caricature – but only after my “Super-Hero” explored and discovered the functionable Principle and the Absolute means for impeccably applying IT! The reader should think – It would be nice if “this is possible”!

After not receiving the critical acclaim nor the Bookstore receipts that I expected for what I personally felt was a masterpiece not only in Baseball literary history, but also from the standpoint of accomplished Literature, I initially surmised that the only mistake I made in writing this Novel was that it took 415 pages to complete it. Then I realized that this Story could not have been told Perfectly without every word that embraced its content!
Even though the beginning chapters may have been of keen interest to the readers who were family and friends, the daunting task of proceeding through another 300 more pages to the concluding “Post-Script,“ when time may have been of the essence, might have dissuaded many from reconnecting to the adventure – especially those who might have found repugnant the author’s penchant for acquiescing to a newly discovered metaphysical disposition.
But, if the readers were reluctant or reticent in following the continuum of an evolutionary chain of physical and mental development of character or skipped ahead to chapters involving sports action more to their liking, they would not have totally understood how a mere mortal was transformed beyond “Super-star” status. The Process was integral!
Also, the fact that the Publisher over-priced the Book at $56.00 was probably a deterrent to those who might ordinarily be interested in what the Cover had displayed as a high prospect of content but were unwilling to spend exorbitantly on a relatively “unknown-author”! It will probably take the input from a prominent and famous person whose providential “guiding-angel” leads him to the opportunity to purview the contents of a book that will immediately register its validity as a worthwhile project to be enhanced to even greater heights of glory than originally presumed possible.

The initial and ultimate purpose of all three of my Books is to inform all “prospects” in pursuance of success in playing baseball that there is a Principle of which Its “simple-applications” will enhance individual skills to points corresponding to each person’s determination to excel. My third Book, as a Novel, illustrates the evolutionary passage from innocent but naïve childhood through painstaking mortal aspirations to the ultimate heroic-heights of Baseball and Athletic Glory via the Practice of Principle. The Book is tailor-made to become a Movie somewhat after the fashion of Marvel – Enterprises but giving audiences more hopeful ambitions to exceed mere affectations of “virtual-reality” for the concrete and tangible prospects of “Vibrational-Reality transcending to “Physical-Reality”! – Everyone could be his own Hero! As Mariah would conclude:
Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
And then a hero comes along
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in Me! 

Next: Continuation of my Book – Chapter 8 – Respite and Re-Evaluation!

John Paciorek’s Book: If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Chapter 7

 

CHAPTER 7
New Revelations

My flight to Detroit left Hobby Airport on time, at 10:00 am, and was scheduled to arrive at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport at 2:30 pm, September 31.

I was anxious to see my family, especially my younger seven siblings. Tom, the older of my four brothers, was starting his senior year of high school. Bobby was beginning eighth grade at Transfiguration School. Mike was in fourth grade. And James was three years old and the only one not in school yet. Marilyn was in tenth grade at Saint Lads (after having spent a year in a convent); while Joan would have begun ninth grade at the Catholic convent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Carole was in second grade at Transfiguration, along with Mike and Bobby.

Football season had started, and I was anxious to see Tom practice and play in games. Through a telephone conversation I had with Mom, she said Tom was playing “fullback/quarterback” this year on offence. He was a “safety” on defense. He was called upon to do most of the running as fullback. When a passing play was necessary, the ball was pitched to him, and he had the option of running or passing (just like me when I was at Saint Lads). But he had incurred a slight concussion in the last game and was not allowed to play in the one coming up this weekend.

I was disappointed to hear the news—both about Tom’s concussion and the fact that I might not be able to watch him play in a game. I would be reporting to Florida before the middle of October. Both Dad and Mom said he had been doing very well, running fast, hard, and over and through defenders. He now weighed over two hundred pounds. He was a power runner and never hesitated to make head-to-head contact with an opposing player, from fullback or his safety position on defense. The season was almost over, so I hoped he’d be OK to play in the last two games.

On the plane, while browsing through the reading material the airlines provided, a magazine whose cover featured a picture of a skeleton caught my eye. Next to the skeleton was a man wearing what I assumed was a doctor’s cloak, so I assumed he was a doctor. The caption read, “An Alternative to Medicine and Surgery.” That statement certainly caught my attention. The magazine included articles about the
work of individuals who were known as chiropractors. One of the articles spoke at length about the history of the Chiropractic Art.

In 1909, B. J. Palmer wrote that:
Chiropractic’s founder, D. D. Palmer, attempted to merge science and metaphysics.[2] In 1896, D. D. Palmer’s first descriptions and underlying philosophy of chiropractic was strikingly similar to the principles of osteopathy established a decade earlier. Both described the body as a “machine” whose parts could be manipulated to produce drugless and non-surgical cures. D. D. Palmer was a religious eclectic who viewed chiropractic as the culmination of his spiritual explorations. A self-styled “Spiritualist,” Palmer attributed chiropractic principles to spiritual “communications.” Palmer coined the term “chiropractic” in 1896, after asking a patient, the Presbyterian Reverend Samuel H. Weed, to suggest several Greek names. Combining the words cheir, hand, and praktos, done, chiropractic means “done by hand.” Just as palmists “read human destiny in nature’s imprint on each individual human hand,” chiropractors were spiritual visionaries who “read health or disease in the body structure of the spine. But unlike the “Palm-Reader” the Chiropractor could actually use his hands and do something constructive about a condition.
(The Bible’s reference to healing by the “laying on of hands” surely alerted me here!)

The plane landed before I could finish the article. Since there were other articles I wanted to read, I asked the stewardess if I could take the magazine with me. She said I could, so I folded it lengthwise and put it in the inside breast pocket of my trench coat as I exited the plane. Arriving at the baggage claim, I quickly grabbed a “carrier” upon which I could place my bags as I maneuvered my way toward the limousine service. After exiting the baggage area, I found a “limo” to take me home. The driver quickly unloaded the carrier, placing all bags into the trunk. He gently placed the last “small bag” and closed the trunk. It eventually dawned on me, while we were en route, that the “small bag” was not mine. I felt it was too late to say something at the time, so I said nothing. Instead, I went back to reading my “chiropractor” magazine:
Chiropractic has far-reaching implications for understanding the interconnectedness of scientific, metaphysical, and evangelical practices. As one of the many widely utilized forms of alternative medicine, chiropractic enjoys dual cultural citizenship.

From the perspective of many consumers, it shares the prestige of modem science while appealing to anti-modern longings for “natural,” spiritually pure remedies. As the chiropractic profession developed and fragmented after Palmer’s discovery, the label “chiropractic” proved remarkably malleable to evolving public discourses of medicine, metaphysics, and Christianity. In a bid for acceptance within the medical mainstream, spokespersons for the major chiropractic organizations developed promotional literature using scientific-sounding terminology that muted the religious overtones of chiropractic philosophy. Simultaneously, chiropractors who combined ideas derived from Palmerian metaphysics and conservative Christianity appealed to spiritually hungry seekers and pain-free motivated evangelical and Charismatic co-religionists.

Over more than half of this twentieth century, chiropractic spokespersons seeking a clientele adopted vocabularies that reconstituted what chiropractic’s founders had envisioned as a philosophical alternative to Christianity as a profession at once scientific, spiritual, and Christian. Those patients who worried about theological orthodoxy yet desired pain relief reclassified chiropractic as a legitimate, scientific complement to medicine and prayer for divine healing. In a culture in which pain has been emptied of positive religious meanings, the drive to avoid pain led many Americans to bring together their understandings of science, chiropractic, and Christianity so that they are experienced as complementary. Although Chiropractic began as a culturally marginal movement that rejected Christianity as well as modern medicine, by the 1960s it began being noticed by practical, conservative Christians who had come to view chiropractic as consonant with their spiritual and scientific views. This major cultural adjustment occurred because chiropractic practitioners are finding a clientele among Americans whose need for healing makes them receptive to chiropractic claims.

Good stuff, I thought. I hoped to find out more at some time.

Nostalgic Reawakening

When the limousine pulled up in front of my house at 4:00 pm, the neighborhood was quiet, but the customary line of parked cars alongside the curbs, on both sides of the street, provided no parking space for the driver to pull into. So he double-parked for a moment or two, to get my bags for me. (If we didn’t hurry, a line of cars would soon be backed up for at least half a block. The streets were so narrow that if cars were parked at the curb, with two cars coming from different directions, one would have to do a “courtesy slide” into an empty parking spot and wait for the oncoming car to pass before it could move on.)

Onto the sidewalk, in front of my house, the driver placed one big suitcase, a small canvas bag, and a large sports bag for my baseball equipment. The bag included two Wilson fielding mitts, two pair of cleats, woolen and cotton undergarments, a few baseballs, couple of hats, four pairs of sanitary socks, one pair of “handball gloves,” a set of golf gloves, a box of Topps baseball cards and bubble gum, as well as a small carton of Sen-Sen gum and mints.

(After signing an endorsement contract with Topps, “they” periodically supplied me with cards, gum, and other treats, as well as the initial few hundred-dollar signing bonus and a set of golf clubs that I gave to my dad.) There was also one thirty-five-inch, thirty-four-ounce M110 Louisville Slugger with my name inscribed on the barrel.

Dad and Mom came to the door, and my three-year-old “baby” brother James raced through the screen door, bounced down the stairs, and offered to carry something. I let him carry the “small bag” (of books). I thought he could carry that with a minimum of difficulty; he was very strong.

* * *

James (Jimbo, as he grew older) was quite precocious in many ways. I was a senior on my high school baseball team in the spring of 1962. All my relatives and sometimes professional baseball scouts would come out to see me show off my particular talents.

Our team often played its games on Jayne-Sandlot fields with three other adjacent fields back-to-back-to-back. Sometimes all fields were being used at the same time. Other times, only one field was in use. It became a common occurrence that, while my game was proceeding on field 1, my little brother, two-year-old James, would look forward to watching my game for a while. Then after moments of gaining inspiration and enthusiasm, he would run off to field 2, directly behind mine. And there he would stay for seven to nine innings, mimicking all the action he saw displayed on field 1—pretending to pitch the ball, then hitting the pretend ball, then running the (real) ninety-foot bases, sliding into second, third, and home bases. He would usually continue this exuberant activity for my entire game. And it wouldn’t be uncommon to observe the people in “our” stands looking over the guard railing onto the adjacent field, watching the antics of a remarkable young baseball prospect in the initial stages of his long baseball career.

* * *

We walked up the six steeply set front steps to the porch (every house on our block, and most other streets in the neighborhood, had fairly high steps, a front porch, and railings extending outwardly from the body of the house and traversing the entire area of the porch, widthwise to the house, rectangular in form). Beyond and below the railings were two patches of grass. The one on the left was an area eight square feet, while on the right side of the porch the area was about six square feet.

* * *

There was not much of a grassy area to keep manicured, but we all still complained about having to cut it with our push mower as we got older. And with all the wear and tear it took while we were trampling it during improvised games, it hardly seemed necessary to cut it at all. When I was about ten, I started using the porch and railing on the left as a springboard as I would mimic one of my “action heroes.” I would bound over it onto the grass six or seven feet below. After which I would sprint over curbs and tree stumps, and across Moenart, from in between parked cars, on my way to Lasky Field for a game of “something or other.” It was not uncommon for my hyperactive temperament to break the monotony of my six-block walk to and from school in the morning and afternoon by improvising an obstacle-type run. While zigzagging randomly and deliberately running full speed at parked cars and trees, to see how close I could come to them, I would then spin and/or cut away safely to the next obstacle, then to the next, until I reached home! Later, when I was making a name for myself in high school as a powerful and elusive running back, people would ask my dad or relatives how I got to be such a runner. They’d reply, “Don’t know—guess he’s just a natural!”

* * *

After a few smiles and compulsory hugs, we entered the “front room,” where I temporarily lay my bags while everyone congregated for a few moments. (Tom, Bobby, and Marilyn hadn’t come home from school yet, and Joan had been in a Pittsburgh Convent since graduating from eighth grade. Mike and Carole were home and had warm smiles to greet me after I climbed the steps to the porch.)

I was told that all the relatives, especially those who mentored me in some way throughout my young baseball life, would be coming by to see me. No doubt they wanted to congratulate me and praise my Sunday performance.

Uncle Frank, Auntie Annie and Uncle Zig, Aunt Margaret and Uncle Tony, Raymond Maliszewski, “Deedie” and Barbara Trulik, Uncle Steve and Aunt Rose all supported me in some way as I was growing up and were integral to my athletic development.

* * *

Uncle Frank was my dad’s older brother and a lifelong bachelor who for a good part of his life suffered from a “drinking problem.” Being the older boy in the family of seven children, he, along with Dad, took on the responsibilities, from an early age, of supporting their family since both of their parents were presently deceased.

Frank, like Dad, went to all my (our) games and always seemed available to drive me when Dad was unavailable. Being in a car driven by Uncle Frank was never a boring occurrence, although it could sometimes be a little too intense. His own perception saw himself as the only driver on the road who knew what he was doing. Ceaseless comments spewed from his lips, from the time we disembarked until we reached our destination. I know that Tommy and Bobby experienced the same ritual. We would compare notes and attest to the absurdities to which each of us had been exposed. But how would we ever have gotten to our games and other functions without the unceasing generosity of Uncle Frank.

Auntie Annie was the oldest child in my dad’s family, born before Frank, Rose, and Dad. She married Uncle Zig at an early age and was a great help in raising the younger sisters, Mary, Margaret, and Helen. As our family of kids were growing older, Annie was a source of our (especially my) income with which to purchase our frivolous “luxury” items like “cool-looking” clothes and the like.

Uncle Zig’s garage (repair shop) provided his family with all they needed for their modest comforts. And Auntie Annie was always willing to share with us. When Frank was not able to drive us places, Annie was our next “best bet.” Annie’s driving manner was not as vociferous, nor condemning, but if she and Frank were on the road at the same time, and in the same vicinity, I’m sure she would give him much justification for public scrutiny.

Aunt Margaret and Uncle Tony seemed somewhat out of place, to my perspective eyes. They always appeared to be in a happy mood. On weekends they were known to go out dancing and carry on in a somewhat frivolous manner. We didn’t see them much, but when I started to develop my athletic skills, they were at my games and supporting me in every way.

Raymond Maliszewski was the only child of Aunt Annie and Uncle Zig. He, along with Steve Tulik Jr. (Deedie), was born in the 1930s. When I first became aware of them, they seemed more like young uncles rather than older cousins. When I think of Ray, my first thought is about how funny he always seemed. He certainly took after his dad (Zig), for his “dry” wit—especially when he told a story, any story. Even young kids (like us) got the gist of his comedic encounters with life.

“Deed” (Steve Trulik Jr.) and his younger sister, Barbara, were the children of Aunt Rose and Uncle Steve (Sr.). Deed was born in the mid-1930s, so he was about ten years my senior. Apparently, there was a fond relationship between Deed and Ray and my dad, since both were born when Dad was still a teenager, born in 1916. Steve later told me and Tom that Dad took him everywhere. Steve and Ray bragged about what a great athlete “Johnny” was. Scouts, both baseball and football, were interested in him, but because of his family obligations, he could only participate in sports when he wasn’t working.

Deed was also funny and great to be around. His dad, Steve Sr., invested in a “tool and die” company (Tru—Tool & Die) and became very successful and known to us as the “richest” of our relatives.

Steve Sr. was a true outdoorsman. He hunted and fished and even went to Africa to shoot and kill “big game.” No one else in the family seemed to be interested in wild-game hunting because no one liked the idea of killing anything. However, we never turned down the ten pounds of “venison” Uncle Steve offered to us every time he returned from deer hunting.

When we got older (eight, nine, or ten), Deed would take us golfing on the weekends. Because of his lack of golfing skills, along with his comical demeanor and self-deprecation, he kept Tom and me in stitches the entire eighteen holes. Normally you’d think it to be safe when we were around the greens. But with Deed, it wasn’t uncommon for him to be twenty yards north of the green before his shot, then twenty yards south, or southwest, after the shot.

He told us that he and Dad went golfing on infrequent occasions (Dad was a good golfer). Steve once asked Dad for some advice.

“Johnny, what am I doing wrong?”

Dad apparently turned to him and stoically remarked, “Deed, you’re standing a little too close to the ball after you hit it.”

After we heard that story, and the many others he remembered about Dad, we (at least I) started gaining a different perspective on the man of whom I previously had little understanding and no relevant communication.

I think the actual point at which Dad and I stopped communicating, from any relevant standpoint other than baseball, was when I was in first or second grade. I came home one day and thought I’d share with him a funny joke someone told me.

I said, “A woman came into a department store holding her little dog whose name was Tits.” I started to chuckle a little, but Dad had a straight face.

I continued, “She walked over to a table that contained an assortment of balls.” I looked at Dad’s face, and he apparently was not catching on, so I felt confident I could get to the end before he figured it out.

“A man came over and asked if he could be of some assistance. The woman said, ‘Yes, would you please hold my Tits while I look at your balls?’”

By this time, I was cracking up, but as I looked up, Dad had turned and walked away. My laughter quickly stopped.

“Didn’t he get it?” I asked myself.

His shoulders slumped as he entered his bedroom and closed the door behind him. I heard a faint sound, so I hoped he wasn’t crying. Why didn’t he think that was funny? Since I didn’t know what to anticipate, I quickly but quietly left the house through the back door.)

Deed also was kind enough to drive us to games and other functions that Dad was not able to. Deed was particularly fun to be with when he was driving in his car. His comedic rendering of characters and situations, although sometimes bordering on reckless driving, always provided amusement during any journey.

Since he also had ridden in a car driven by Uncle Frank, we had the opportunity to experience the novelty of disparaging remarks and tendencies we hadn’t seen or heard before. Of course, they could have been simply Stevie’s comedic license coming into play. Those occasions were more fun! With Uncle Frank, we had to resist laughing out loud, or abruptly turn aside, for fear of engaging that same growling face that oncoming cars had to endure.

* * *

The relatives were coming at 6:00 pm, and they were bringing all the food, so all we had to do was relax and eat. When Tommy, Bobby, and Marilyn got home, they helped me carry my bags to the attic, after hugs and warm greetings. (I was pleasantly surprised to see how big Tom had gotten. When I was a senior and 210 pounds, he must have weighed about 130 pounds.)

After ascending the narrow stairway and traversing the length of the cluttered walkway to the bedroom, we planted the bags on the bed that Mom had prepared for me. We came back downstairs just in time to greet the first wave of visitors.

Uncle Frank lived with Aunt Margaret and Tony, so because of limited parking on the street, they came together in a car driven by Tony. Frank was relegated (for the first time I know of) to the back seat, a place from where I’m sure he would not hesitate making an inappropriate comment or two. Tony and Margaret’s eight-yearold son, Jimmy, came also and sat in the back with Frank.

All the visitors said they were bringing the delicious Polish entrees that everyone loved. Aunt Margaret brought “city chicken,” a personal favorite of mine. But I couldn’t remember having any in years. The chicken and veal strips were tied together and cooked and seasoned to perfection in the oven. Then they were placed on wooden skewers and eaten with hands as if each was a corn on a cob. I could hardly wait to get my hands on those delicious morsels. But we weren’t allowed to start “grabbing” until everyone and all the food were present.

Not long afterward, Aunt Rose came through the front room, carrying one of four salads that she was a specialist in preparing. Following close behind Rose were Steve (Sr.), Deed (Jr.), and Barbara, each toting one of the other three salads.

I couldn’t figure out where all the food would be placed, since our kitchen counter and table didn’t seem big enough for everything that was coming in. Marilyn and Mom found and unfolded a card table, and the problem seemed resolved.

I had asked, “Maybe if I started eating some of this food, perhaps that would help?”

Apparently, no one heard me, so I backed off to the other room.

Then I saw Aunt Annie coming through the front door carrying a large platter of an assortment of Polish delicacies: gawumpki, pierogi, and pigs in a blanket. Zig and son Raymond were followed by Ray’s wife, Joyce, and their son, Michael. (I would always remember Michael because when he was little, he liked hamburgers but always pronounced them hanger-burgers.)

They brought a couple of rolls of kielbasa (Polish sausage), one smoked and the other was “fresh.” There was certainly plenty of food for everyone. In fact, I was already planning how to use the leftovers in preparing the Polish version of “hunter’s stew.” It was a great meal that consisted of a potpourri of all those delicious meats and vegetables we will have eaten separately.

After everyone left, I felt a genuine sense of gratitude that I never fully appreciated before. I pondered the thought and feeling as I walked up the narrow, steep stairs to my attic bedroom.

Next: Chapter 8 – Respite and Re-Evaluation!

John Paciorek’s Book: If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Chapter 6

 

CHAPTER 6
Home: Sweet—Home?

It will be nice to be home (I thought apprehensively), although the living conditions at 13432 Moenart would not have the comfort and privacy I had grown accustomed to as an eighteen-year-old bachelor. Roaming the “world” for the past eight months, I enjoyed an uncommon freedom from the watchful eyes of caring and diligent Catholic parents. All my life (at least from third grade on), I felt an uneasy yearning to escape the fetters of parental supervision and the dogmatic practices of Catholicism.

I unconsciously appreciated the cloistered protection that both afforded, but I felt restricted with a lack of individual freedom. The parochial school discipline, exacted by the nuns who guided my questionable educational progress, carried with it moral and academic suspicions. And my own parents reinforced the common code of corporal punishment for “crimes” venial and mortal. Both adhered strictly to an “old-testament” admonition: “Spare the rod, and risk spoiling the child!”

The psychology of that era, and those preceding it, must have been to “burn down the barn to make sure you got rid of all the rats.” The “God of mercy” was conveniently lost sight of during trying times, like the “Inquisition” and child-rearing. And where exactly did Christian philosophy (dogma) begin adulterating Jesus’s practice of extolling highest virtue to children (Jesus’s request of those field hands not to tear out the weeds before the wheat grew to maturity surely rings true here).

I suppose there was some benefit, somewhere, in my parents’ adherence to strict Church doctrine. But a child under its absolute enforcement would be hard-pressed to commit his own life to its rigidity and merciless extraction. I can’t forget being slapped (on an almost daily basis) across the face or on back of the head by parents and teachers alike—for simple acts of omission or using language and tones of voice that didn’t sit right with the offended adult.

It was not uncommon for me to be “bludgeoned” at school by a teacher who would afterward send for one of my younger siblings and give him or her a note to give to my parents. When my dad got home from work, he would remorsefully yet without hesitation administer another ration of what came to be standard procedure in a typical day in the life of a certain young Catholic boy. But I also can recall that on many of those occasions, the supervising adults would grimace slightly and then apply what seemed the mandatory response to their religious obligation. I believe they thought it was their duty to do what they did. (I didn’t then, but I now feel sorry for them.)

When—and if—I ever have kids, I hope the “psychology of the day” will have instituted a more soothing means for reaching children, other than by “corporal punishment.” It doesn’t work! Especially if adults want to gain the genuine respect and appreciation of children and young adults that they proclaim to enlist—and not “spoil the child”!

My dad should have had sainthood bestowed on him, for all his self-sacrifice. The virtue he displayed while providing for his family of ten was truly commendable. (But nevertheless, because of the manner with which we related to each other, it wasn’t so much respect but rather fear that got my divided attention.) He worked from early adulthood on the assembly line at the Plymouth/Chrysler Plant on Mount Elliot Road, about two and half miles from where we lived. He didn’t always have a car to get to work, but he never missed a day of work. When he was ill, there were no “sick leave” and vacation days to recuperate. The health and welfare of his family were too important to miss work for any reason. I remember him walking the distance on repeated occasions in blistering, snowy conditions because the car wasn’t functional and no bus routes were available to him.

He always made sure that there was always enough good food available for Mom to prepare at mealtimes. At those harder times when we were “on Welfare,” none of us kids wanted to go with him to pick up the groceries with “food stamps” (for fear of being seen by someone we knew). I also remember seeing him waiting until the entire family finished a tasty, nutritious dinner before he sat down and finished what was left—even if they were merely the scraps from off the plates we had left behind.

He could hardly afford it, but he made sure that his children had a good Catholic school education. For some reason, he didn’t want to send us to public school, even though it was free! Transfiguration was a prosperous Polish Catholic elementary school six blocks east of Moenart, on Syracuse Street. I think the church gave us a discount, since I recall Dad doing things for “them” in his “spare time.”

White School was the public elementary school—right down the street from us on Moenart, on the south side of Luce, not even a quarter of a mile away from our house. (I sometimes wished I was going there. Then I wouldn’t be forced to learn the Polish language, which most of the kids felt was meaningless, inferior, and difficult— especially for poor students who weren’t even Polish.)

One of the many things that we—kids (at least to my personal recollection)— didn’t fully appreciate at the time was the amount of effort Dad (Mom as well) spent on seemingly trivial things concerning us rather than focusing on his own personal needs. I can still picture me and my siblings kneeling down in the living room and
saying aloud our evening prayers before we could go to sleep. Dad wanted to make sure we all knew the words and said them with conviction. From what I remember as a considerably long time, we said them together.

Eventually, he had the notion that we might learn them in Polish as well as English. The attempt was futile, since we could barely say them in English, and that was only if we said them a hundred miles per hour, remembering the rhythm.

We always started off our litany with eyes closed, in solemn reverence to the “sign of the cross.”

“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” as we uniformly performed the action with the right hand, from head to heart, to left shoulder, to right shoulder.

Immediately after, we would recite the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father, who art in heaven . . .), followed by the “Hail Mary” (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . .).

In Polish, it would read, “W imie Ojca I Syna I Ducha Swietego.” The Lord’s Prayer followed, “Ojcze nasz, którys jest w Niebie, swiec sie Imie Twoje . . .” And the Hail Mary, “Zdrowas Mario, laskis pelna . . .”!

Since I was the oldest, the initiating of this common ritual naturally fell upon me. Everything proceeded well, over the months that we participated in the nightly regimen. But if you can imagine the monotony that set in after weeks and weeks of this religious banter, you might wonder if something (anything) might have occurred that would have broken the monotonous stream of rhythmic cadence.

One evening, at a moment when the proceedings were to begin, and we were settling into our kneeling positions, I somehow preemptively—and apparently unconsciously—began the “sign of the cross” with a somewhat emphatic recitation of the numbers: 1, 2, 3 . . . But before I could finish “3,” Tom and Marilyn had busted out laughing, and I became deliriously conscious of the fact that I might soon be the recipient of a hard slap across the back of my head or face.

As it “miraculously” turned out, while my neck and shoulders were cowering to the right and away from where I presumed the blow would be coming, the eyes of my twisting head caught sight of what appeared to be a slight, momentary chuckle projected from the contorted lips of both my parents. It didn’t mean I wasn’t still going to be nailed, but it did offer at least a temporary reprieve from any retribution for an obviously sacrilegious, desecrating impropriety of scandalous proportion.

After a few moments for all to regain the proper composure to continue, the prayers were concluded, and we all retired to what would be a “good night’s sleep”— all things considered. To what could I attribute such a heartfelt impulse of “forgiveness”? The gesture was hardly used in conjunction with disciplining children or students. So I must have unconsciously chalked it up to a previously unknown fact that, occasionally, “God has a sense of humor.”

As the days, weeks, and months passed, the ritual stopped. And we were permitted to say the evening prayers in the semiprivacy of our own bedrooms, of which there were three. Dad and Mom had one; Marilyn and Joan shared one; and Tom and I shared the other. When Bobby, Mike, Carole, and Jimbo came along, the comfort level was considerably strained with some inconvenient adaptations.

Dad could be observed as a model of virtue, mostly by others, but sometimes even by me. I would hear relatives make mention of times—in the not-so-recent history—when Dad’s generosity secured some relative’s successful venture. It ultimately provided him and his family a well-established means of financial security.

Uncle Zig and Auntie Annie lived a comfortable life, largely due to Dad’s generous loan at a time when he was the only one working. He carried the burden of assisting much of his extended family. Those recipients of his initial generosity never forgot his unselfish gestures and always made sure our family of ten was never without the “necessities” of life. And on special occasions, even a luxury or two!

His virtue extended in ways I could hardly understand, especially at a time when our family was on “Welfare.” Somehow it was evident that my eight-year-old mentality didn’t quite grasp how honesty was the best policy. When opportunities arose and a quick gain could be made if only I would deny the “honesty factor,” I would hardly abide with a policy to which my dad was a strict adherent.

One cold winter evening, my dad was putting on his boots, which five minutes earlier he had taken off after shoveling the snow from off the walkway in front of our house. He had planned to spend the rest of his evening relaxing before going to bed. I thought it odd because there seemed no legitimate reason for such action. Plus, he had to get up earlier than usual the following morning, to walk to work since the family car was at Uncle Zig’s Garage being repaired.

He had been out earlier that afternoon, walking half a mile through the snow to Bazaar’s Confectionary. He usually purchased his pack of cigarettes there, on Sundays, since nearer neighborhood stores were closed.

(In 1953, it had not yet been established that cigarette smoking could be hazardous to health. In fact, it was encouraged to promote good healthy living. As an eight-year-old, I tried it once. But when told by friends to inhale, I almost gagged in pain and never tried it again. And at seventeen cents a pack, even my dad could afford it. I can remember that he sometimes sent me, an eight-year-old, during the week to Bloom grocery—the first street east of Moenart—with a quarter to buy him a pack of Camels. I would sprint from our backyard, through the alley, and be back in less than three minutes, with the Camels and eight cents change. Once, in a while, he’d let me keep a penny to buy a thimble of pumpkin seeds.)

It was later that evening, while counting the money he had in his pants pocket, he noticed a discrepancy in the amount that was there. When he initially left home and traversed the snowy terrain between our house and “Bazaar’s,” he had a $10 bill. But when he perused the contents of his pocket afterward, he counted $19.82, nine
teen dollars and eighty-two cents. (Bazaar’s charged one penny more than the other stores for cigs.)

The store attendant gave Dad $10 too much change. To my way of thinking, Dad just made a $10 profit on his cigarette deal. So I was more than a little annoyed when Mom told me he was on his way back to the store to return the extra money. I couldn’t believe it! Who else would do that? I knew I wouldn’t. If I had an extra ten bucks, I’d be in heaven. At least temporarily! Obviously, I had not yet attained any apprehension of the “metaphysical” dimension of life. By the way, the attendant gave Dad a free pack of cigarettes for his trouble.

(I guess his “honesty” paid off when the true facts about smoking came out a few years later. Dad quit “cold turkey” and never had a problem with his lungs or his breathing before his death in 2004.)

Next: Chapter 7 – New Revelations!

John Paciorek’s Book: If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Chapter 5

 

CHAPTER 5
Postgame Highlights

It was approximately 6:30 pm on Sunday, September 29, 1963. I had just recently returned to my room at the Surrey House Motor Hotel, a quaint and comfortable but less-than-luxurious accommodation provided by the Houston Colt .45s Baseball Organization. The final game of the 1963 season ended a few hours earlier. We had beaten the New York Mets, 13–4. It was the only game that year that the Colts had scored in double figures. I was particularly happy because I had the good fortune to play in my first Major-League baseball game. I did pretty well. I was up five times. I got three hits (all singles). I got three RBI and scored four times. I also walked twice. I made a few plays in the outfield without an error. It was exciting and fun! I was eighteen years old!

After I turned on the TV to watch the sports news, I ordered dinner from the hotel room service. My usual order was normally a couple of steaks or a few large cheeseburgers, with baked potatoes or fries, and maybe a salad. A large, thick malted milkshake was a customary drink, along with a Pepsi or Coke. While waiting for my dinner to arrive, Guy Savage came on the TV broadcast to deliver the news in sports. Almost immediately, he reiterated the game highlights, proclaiming the Colts’ greatest victory in the season’s finale. The two cellar dwellers were battling in “last place.” But the .45s were just too overpowering for the New York Mets, overwhelming their hapless opponents 13–4.

“It was the first time this season that the Colt .45s were able to get into double figures, thanks, in large part, to the extraordinary performance of young rookie outfielder, John Paciorek.”

(I couldn’t remember any special, congratulatory fanfare given to me by fellow players anytime after the game, either in the clubhouse or during transportation back to the Surrey House with those who were also staying there—just the traditional, obligatory “Nice game” salutation and “See you at spring training.” So I didn’t think my performance bore any great significance to any immediate or future reflection on the game.)

When my name was mentioned with such enthusiasm, my mouth gaped open while chill bumps circulated over my body. I felt an enormous sense of pride as well
as wonderment and awe about the way he described my seemingly auspicious accomplishment. He reminded me and other TV viewers that I had ended the 1963 season with a “perfect” batting average, 1.000. My on-base percentage was also 1.000, for five at bats. I drove in three runs. And I scored four times. And my fielding percentage was also 1.000, flawless in four opportunities. In concluding his commentary, Mr. Savage noted that he, as well as the entire Colt .45 Organization, was looking forward to the brilliant future that was surely in store for this phenomenal rookie and for the Organization itself.

My food had arrived, but I barely heard the knock by the room service attendant. So many joyous thoughts raced in my mind, along with nebulous feelings of uncertainty. I awakened from my “dream state” by the sound at the door.

As I signed for the food tab, I heard Guy mention, “In other sports news, Stan Musial announced his retirement after twenty-two years in the big leagues. He ended his career on the high note of another two-hit performance.”

I thought it odd that my performance (by an eighteen-year-old rookie) would receive greater press coverage than Stan “The Man” Musial. (I later found out that on the national level, Stan got the fuller coverage while my performance on most broadcasts didn’t receive any mention at all.)

Nothing could normally disrupt my mealtime regimen, especially when two medium—well, Porterhouse—steaks were waiting to be devoured. And it wasn’t! But I couldn’t exactly give my undivided attention to the scrumptious delicacies on the coffee table in front of me when one other pressing issue lay before me.

How in this world was I going to live up to this exaggerated moment of glory? It was thrust into my experience during one game in which I really wasn’t even prescheduled to play. And an even more “mind-bending” dilemma was predicated on whether or not my back would allow me to sustain another season, or even another day, of performing on a baseball field. My standard for play was 100 percent or nothing. If I couldn’t be 100 percent, how could I play to my maximum efficiency?

(Although frantic thoughts seemed evident on the surface, deep within me I did harbor hope and reason to believe and expect that I would be able to play again. It seemed that I was born to play!)

It was my first taste of “professional fan adulation,” and I liked the way it made me feel, even for the moment. Countless thoughts were randomly being processed through my brain, but in a manner so haphazard that I could find no consolation from ideas trying to address them. Yeah! I was a good athlete, and I always felt that I belonged in the “big leagues.” But with my limited professional experience, I hadn’t given any solid evidence that I belonged. Sure, I just went 3 for 3, three RBI, scored four runs, and walked twice, but I did not tear the cover off the ball. In fact, I felt that I was pretty lucky. Every circumstance provided me with opportunities the other players would have hoped for. I just happened to be the one with the “magic wand.” I couldn’t help but feel that someone or something must have been choreographing my “excellent day.”

“How could I do what I did and not make a single mistake? Perfect!”

In the morning, I had picked up the paper (Houston Post) at the Surrey House before my taxi took me to the doctor’s office. After I found the sports section, the front page boasted a headline that proclaimed a tremendous victory for the Colts that reissued a last-place finish for the Mets. There were lots of pictures— picture of me rounding third-base, with a caption, “John Paciorek scoring one of his four runs in the Colts’ romp over the hapless New Yorkers.” 

The bumpy traveling conditions prevented me from reading, so it wasn’t until I arrived at the doctor’s office that I perused the article. The writer elaborated on the details of my first-game exploits and ended the article with the not-so-obvious conclusion that conferred upon John Paciorek “the unofficial Major-League batting title.” While in the waiting room, a current New York Times newspaper was left on the table, and I found the following statements in one of the sports articles: “Paciorek found nothing difficult about the majors,” and “He doesn’t yet know what it’s like to make an out in the big leagues.”

The Organization had arranged flights home for all the players, and my plane was leaving for Detroit from Houston’s Hobby Airport at 10:00 am on Tuesday, September 31. This would be my final checkup by the doctors. Some of us were going home for the winter, for rest and “self-evaluation,” while others would again be going to fall—“Instructional Ball,” like I did the previous year.

At the last moment, the Organization asked if I would like to go to a fall league in Florida and play on a team that had Colt .45 players as well as players from the Boston Red Sox. I half-wondered why “they” asked me to go, but I told them I would love it. The doctors said that perhaps I wouldn’t need an operation if I could strengthen my abdominal and back muscles enough to stabilize the lumbar area of my (lower) back. So of course, I intended to follow the prescribed exercise program for strengthening those muscles in my own particularly over-ambitious manner. But would that be enough?

Next: Chapter 6 – Home: Sweet – Home?

John Paciorek’s Book: If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Chapter 4

 

CHAPTER 4
One Glorious Day?

So the final part of the lineup card was decided upon. On Sunday afternoon, September 29, 1963, Johnny Paciorek was going to make his long-anticipated major-league debut. The players had to be at the stadium by 10:30 am, so Johnny had to go to an early mass at Saint Vincent Catholic Church. Holy Communion was always a first consideration. A heartfelt, dedicated effort to perform simply for the “glory of God” was the prayerful purpose for which all his motivation was inspired.

He was at the ballpark at 10:00 am, mentally ready and soon to be physically primed to perform at his highest level of competency. All necessary stretching and warm-up exercises and throwing were completed. After pregame batting and fielding practice (outfield and infield), Johnny was ready to experience the “thrill of a lifetime.”

The Colts were the home team, so they took the field first. And of course, the first person to be seen, sprinting out to his position in right field, was Johnny P. After a little “catch” with the center fielder, Ivan Murrell, Johnny’s arm and body were ready to expend all the energy necessary to give a masterful performance for all the 3,899 fans in attendance. (From the start of the game until its finish, there was never any thought given whatsoever about his back!) He was there for the duration, and his only consideration was to be and do the best and the most that he can.

The game began with nineteen-year-old Chris Zachary on the mound; twenty-one-year-old John Bateman doing the catching; nineteen-year-old Rusty Staub at first base; twenty-year-old Joe Morgan was playing second base; twenty-year-old Glenn Vaughn was at shortstop; and Veteran Bob Aspromonte rounded out the infield at third base. The outfield consisted of twenty-one-year-old Jimmy Wynn in left; nineteen-year-old Ivan Murrell, from Panama, in center field; and eighteen year-old John Paciorek was in right field.

The top of the first proved relatively uneventful, with only a hit batsman making it to first base. But as Johnny viewed every situation, there was always some circumstance ready to avail itself for someone to make a great play. He was constantly looking for it! He could just imagine a base hit to him in right and the runner on first thinking that he might test the arm of the rookie. Johnny was ready! Nothing materialized, so the top of the first produced no heroics to speak of—except perhaps Johnny’s sprinting to the third base dugout, to beat Aspromonte down the steps!

The bottom of the first proved even less eventful, as Vaughn, Morgan, and Wynn succeeded each other with consecutive outs while Rusty languished patiently in the “on-deck” circle. The second inning began within what seemed a heartbeat, but Johnny raced to his position with intent to do something of a more productive nature.

He didn’t have to wait long because the Mets’ first batter launched a fly ball to right field. It didn’t look or sound like it was hit that well. But Johnny’s propensity for throwing some grass into the air before every pitch revealed the wind blowing out to right. He thought it might come out farther than originally expected. As he paused momentarily, he could detect that the ball was carrying deeper and to the line. He moved back initially then darted to his left and caught the ball on the warning track. Good catch, and the fans showed their appreciation with a round of applause.

The next batter made an out, and the third batter of the inning hit what could have been the first hit of the game. It was a blooper over the right side of the infield. Second baseman Joe Morgan was giving chase. At one point, Joe called for the ball. But Paciorek—realizing that the wind was blowing out and the play would be difficult for Joe—raced in, called off Morgan, and made the running catch.

(Johnny had a knack for getting “the jump” on any ball hit, because it was part of his daily practice ritual during batting practice, before every game. He didn’t just shag balls like most of the others in the outfield while pregame batting was taking place. He deliberately watched the batter’s swings and eventually gained an uncanny sense of the direction and the impact of the balls off the bat.)

The fans applauded as the half inning ended. Those would be the only “putouts” Johnny would have for the entire game. He later would field cleanly two balls that were hits: one, a line drive single, and the other, a “bloop-double” down the right field line.

(Even though he didn’t see much action on defense, that condition would never stop Johnny from hustling to back up plays in both the outfield and infield. He would race toward first base in case the third baseman or shortstop overthrew a ball to first base, or toward second base on double plays starting from the left side of the infield. The same with the outfielders adjacent to him! He never allowed a base runner to advance if he could help it. In Johnny’s mind, an outfielder doesn’t get many chances during a nine-inning game, so he who would be “great” can’t afford to miss any opportunity to help his team. Selflessness is a key component to defining the ideal outfielder temperament. He cannot hesitate to expend his energy in any situation, even when the play is obviously not within his immediate “sphere of influence.”)

Racing again to the dugout, Johnny knew he would be batting fourth this inning. He couldn’t wait to get his hands on his bat. Rusty made an out to begin the Colts second inning, while Aspromonte reached first. Murrell also made an out, and the moment Johnny was waiting for finally arrived.

With utmost confidence, Johnny stepped into the right-hander batter’s box. He’d been there before—not only in his mind, but in big-league spring training camp. It’s not going to be any different.

I hit ’em then, I’ll hit ’em now. This is where I belong, here I’ll stay, were the thoughts calmly resonating through his mind.

Standing tall, in a slightly open stance, with his bat held high (the same stance he had since high school), gave him the sense that he could see the ball clearly as well as feel relaxed. He probably presented a posture that might be intimidating to some pitchers. (His stance was quite contrasting to those of Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, and Jimmy Wynn. He could detect their better sense of balance, but he could not, at this point in his career, feel confident enough to copy their styles.)

Larry Bearnarth was a young right-handed Mets pitcher who looked to be quite formidable. But in Johnny’s eyes, it didn’t matter how good he was. Paciorek decided that anything the pitcher could do would not intimidate him. He would look for any pitch over the plate, fast or curve. If it was over the plate, he was going to give it his best swing.

Bearnarth’s first pitch was a fastball strike, and Johnny strode into it and let everyone know he doesn’t take a first-pitch strike merely to check it out. He swung hard and fouled it off to the right (he may have been a little late). The Mets’ pitcher followed with three straight balls before Johnny swung at another fastball strike and pulled it on the ground down the third base line. (From his high stance, Johnny could somehow sense that he might not be able to get under and drive a good, low fastball. It wasn’t like high school, where no pitcher could blow a fastball by him.)

On the next pitch, Bearnarth missed the outside corner, and Johnny was credited with his first major-league base-on-balls. He then raced to first base, as he customarily did. He was already thinking about what could possibly happen next. And he wanted his body to be ready to apply itself with “full speed ahead.”

Three pitches later, with Aspro on second and Johnny on first, John Bateman slammed a shot to right field, over the head of Mets’ Kranepool. With two outs, Johnny and Aspro were running on contact—Johnny telling himself instinctively that he was not stopping until he crossed home plate.

Aspromonte scored easily, and the speeding Paciorek, close on his heels, also scored standing up. Bateman ended up on third base with a triple. Pitcher Chris Zachary stranded Bateman at third. But the Colts had a two-run lead as the third inning was about to begin. Johnny couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity to have so much fun!

The Mets scored one run in the top of the third and three more in the top of the fourth. They took a 4–2 lead into the bottom of the fourth. The Colts started their part of the inning with three quick singles by Staub, Aspromonte, and Murrell. Ivan
got his first big-league hit by laying down a perfect bunt on the third base line. That left bases loaded with no outs, and Johnny was coming to bat for his second chance.

He walked his first time up and was still looking for his first base hit. Paciorek thought, Just put the ball over the plate, and I’ll be swinging.

Bearnarth’s first pitch was a ball, outside. His second pitch was hit by Johnny’s bat down by the trademark. But Paciorek “muscled” it over the shortstop’s head for his first major-league base hit. He drove in Staub from third base and Aspro from second. (Although there was no lack of confidence anywhere in Johnny’s mind or demeanor, he sensed that his long stride, from his open-stance position, didn’t always allow his front foot to plant into the ground quickly enough to swing on time. Morgan, Staub, and Wynn had shorter strides.)

The score now tied 4–4, John Bateman came to the plate with Murrell on second and Paciorek on first. A base hit by Bateman scored Murrell and gave the Colts a 5–4 lead, while sending Paciorek to second. Bearnarth was pulled from the game, being replaced by Ed Bauta.

Bauta gave up a bunt single to Al Spangler, who pinched hit for pitcher Jim Umbright. Spangler’s bunt single sent Paciorek to third base. Pete Runnels then pinch-hit for Glen Vaughn and on the first pitch hit a fly ball to right field. The speedy Paciorek “tagged up” immediately and scored his second run of the afternoon, making the score 6–4. The Colts scored again, making it 7–4, before the inning ended.

The Mets scored nothing during the top of the fifth. But in the bottom of the inning, the Colts again came alive with Aspro leading off with a triple. Ivan popped up for the first out. So with one out, and Aspromonte on third base, Paciorek came to the plate again with a chance at another RBI.

Bauta’s first pitch was a curveball, low and away. Even though Johnny was anxious to get another RBI, he didn’t “bite.” The second pitch was also low, and Paciorek patiently held up. He was waiting for a pitch in his “wheelhouse.” With the count now 2–0, Johnny anticipated a fastball from Bauta and was ready to connect. The Met pitcher was a seasoned veteran and probably knew Johnny was ready to “tee off” on a fastball. So he threw a curve for a strike that Paciorek didn’t swing at (his first called strike).

With the count now 2–1, Johnny was looking for any pitch over the plate. The next pitch was a fastball, and Johnny seemed to be jammed. But he managed, again, to muscle the ball to the outfield. Aspromonte scored, so Paciorek just got his second major-league hit, and third RBI, of the day. He’s 2 for 2, with a walk, three RBI, two runs scored.

John Bateman then walked, sending Johnny to second. New pitcher, Tracy Stallard, relieved Bauta. Bob Lillis came to the plate for the first time since he replaced Vaughn at shortstop. Lillis quickly hit a bullet off the glove and past the Mets’ third baseman. Johnny took the opportunity to speed past third and score another run for the Colts. It was his third of the day. The score was now 11–4 (first time this season that Colts had scored in double figures). The fifth inning came to an end.

When Paciorek came up to bat in the sixth, there was one out. A new Met pitcher, left-hander Grover Powell, was on the mound. His first pitch to Johnny was a fastball, and he was ready, taking a hefty cut as he strode into the pitch from his “high, open stance.” Behind in the count, Paciorek took the next three pitches, out of the strike zone.

With a 3–1 count, Johnny was looking for a good pitch to hit. He didn’t want to walk again. Powell fired a fastball, and Paciorek was swinging. Johnny had another good cut but, again, was a little late. He fouled it off to the right and into the stands beyond the first base dugout. With the count now “full,” Johnny was hoping for another strike so he could have an opportunity to make solid contact and show off his power. However, Powell’s next pitch was low, and Paciorek walked for the second time.

While pitching to Bateman, Powell threw a “wild pitch,” allowing Johnny to advance to second. Bateman then grounded out to third, keeping Paciorek at second. Bob Lillis came to the plate for a second time. He looped a single into center field.

With two outs, Johnny was running on contact and, with his speed, scored easily for the Colts’ twelfth run and Paciorek’s fourth. After a third out ended the sixth inning, Johnny sprinted out to his right field position. He felt a little disgruntled over the fact that, although he was doing well in the eyes of just about everyone in the stadium, he had thus far not given any concrete evidence of his potent batting prowess.

I have more natural power than Morgan, Wynn, and Staub, he thought. But their abilities to hit the ball with more authority confounded him. “I would like to bat like they do, but I don’t feel comfortable, except in my tall, opened stance,” he muttered silently to himself.

It seems logical that a low stance would have a stronger center of gravity and provide a quicker means to respond to a variation of pitches. It would also provide a smaller strike zone and better perception, especially if a batter would limit his stride.

“My most powerful hits are those in which I am way in front of the pitch, where I can get under it,” he realized. Because my hands are so high, even when I hit a ball hard, it is usually on the ground, especially low pitches, he thought.

No runs again for the Mets in the seventh. The Colts scored one run in the bottom half but left Paciorek in the on-deck circle while the third out was made by Murrell. While on the bench, Johnny made a point to watch Morgan, Wynn, and Staub batting ahead of him.

The things they had in common were their low center of gravity (lower than Johnny’s), their bats and hands were at the level of a high strike (not above the shoulders), and their bodies were “closed” to the pitcher (not like Johnny’s open stance). Their strides were relatively short, a back bent knee being evident after the hips had turned through the swing.

Joe had an idiosyncratic habit of slapping his back elbow against his side just before the pitch was delivered. Jimmy had his front bent elbow raised up in front of his tucked chin. With eyes peering over his left humerus, his bat lay flat in his top hand, just below his shoulders. After the ball was pitched, he would stride, lower his front arm and shoulder, while his top hand brought the bat perpendicular to the ground. Then he’d quickly flatten it again before he swung at the ball. He looked like a miniature version of Frank Robinson.

After not scoring in the top of the eighth, the Mets’ Powell was going to pitch the bottom half of the inning. The first batter he would be facing was John Paciorek, coming up for possibly his final at-bat. Johnny took a first pitch, strike; he wasn’t expecting a “big-league” slider. He must not have seen a good one before.

The second pitch was a fastball low for a ball, and a 1–1 count. Paciorek swung at the next pitch and missed it. With the count now one ball and two strikes, Johnny thought he’d probably throw a curveball for the “K,” or just “waste one.” Powell threw a curve, but it caught a little too much of the plate. Paciorek had what he thought was his best swing of the afternoon and hit a hard ground ball down the third base line.

The Mets’ third baseman dove to his backhand side and knocked the ball down. As he found the ball and threw it, the speedy Paciorek was already at the bag. Johnny just got his third hit of the day.

Dave Adlesh then pinch-hit for Bateman. Johnny was hoping to score his fifth run of the game. However, his plan was foiled when Adlesh hit the ball back to the pitcher. Powell caught it, turned, and threw to second base for a “force” on the hard-sliding Paciorek trying to break up “two.” The shortstop evaded the slide then relayed the ball to first to complete the double play.

Johnny jogged back to the dugout, disappointed that the Mets got him out, for the first and only time. He didn’t need to worry. It was still a perfect game in all legitimate categories.

I’ll use the off-season to work on a more productive way to swing my bat, as well as get my back in perfect physical condition, he thought as the game ended.

Handshakes and congratulatory expressions of “good-game” by teammates to each other ended an otherwise exciting and eventful experience for all rookies and veterans alike.

Next: Chapter 5 – Post-Game Highlights