In the film industries’ most recent Lincoln bio movie (titled “Lincoln,” appropriately enough), one of my favorite scenes takes place in the War Department’s telegraph office. At a particularly tense time for Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, waiting for a dispatch about an impending invasion by Union troops, President Lincoln launches into an alleged anecdote.
The humorous story concerned Ethan Allen’s diplomatic mission to England after the American Revolution, when relations between the ancient entity and the newly-born nation were suffering through the throes of normalization.
The stressed Stanton, already at his wit’s end, and well aware of Lincoln’s penchant for waxing far-fetched parallels at the most inappropriate times (in the Secretary’s opinion), interrupts Abe, admonishing the Commander-in-Chief, in so many words, about telling yet another of his stories at a critical turning-point of the campaign.
Refusing to be exposed to another of Lincoln’s embellishments, after a brief verbal tirade, Stanton storms out of the war room, leaving the rest of its occupants to enjoy what turns out to be a hilarious scenario with an unexpectedly jolting punch line, artfully told by the President.
So what does the scene from this movie have to do with the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish narrowly missing out on every pitcher’s dream — a perfect game — on Tuesday? Oh, well, just absolutely nothing.
OK, so there is a segue.
Having been exposed to a few more life experiences than most of my colleagues who share the same office air, I occasionally relate bits and pieces of personal recollections, in hopes the receiving end of the tale is entertained with at least a small percentage of the joy of relating the story... that’s really all I could hope for, though it is sometimes difficult to recognize just how entertained my co-workers are when their eyes begin to glaze.
No worries. I have enough experiences tucked away to keep them entertained for... well, longer than they would care to imagine, I’m sure... and I try awfully hard not to recycle anecdotes. Even I have that much compassion.
One particular story — that’s right, now we’re getting down to it — emerges from the memory banks any time a perfect game is thrown or more precisely, nearly thrown, as the case with Darvish.
No reverie-panic, readers — I only have a small amount of space left, and there’s no telegraphed message we’re awaiting.
A pony league postseason tourney found our all-star team in a Decatur-based tournament (a semi-significant adventure for young ball players during the 60’s). This writer was facing what I hoped would be the final batter in a game where our defense, and my curve ball had both been extremely effective against the host team of the tournament.
After we had dispatched all 20 of the previous batters, No. 21 hit a weak grounder to our second baseman. Easily handled and well thrown to first, panic set in on our poor first baseman, who dropped the ball, as well as any happy ending to the re-tellings of this particular story.
Yes, it was “just pony league” (and you just got the short version of the story), but for a brief moment, I had just an inkling... it was hurtful, even at that age.
I look forward to a season — several seasons — of Yu Darvish starts. I think we will see the feat from him before he’s through.
Oh yeah, and I’d like to think Lincoln really did tell that story.