After Baseball Ended


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December 2050. As he punched in the security code that snowy night at the armed entrance of the gated community, Ricketts Glen, at the corner of Clark and Addison in Chicago, the wind was so cold that his hands felt as if he had plunged them in fire.

The vacant, snow flake stares of the street people cowering in front of the Hyatt and Best Buy across the street were making her nervous, so he hurried to punch in the code. And he kept chattering to keep her attention. “You know there used to be a baseball stadium here. They called it Wrigley Field.”

 “No way!” she said, shaking her long blonde hair back from her face and shivering all in one move. Her blue eyes wide. “I had heard there was like a church or something here?”

 He loved how most everything she said sounded like a question. Questions he pretty much knew the answers to. Maybe tonight would turn out better than he thought.

 “Actually. . .” be began. He was being extra careful to try and sound smart. She had told him in the bar that she liked guys with big ah. . .brains; was the way she put it. That’s when she tossed off that killer smile. And he pretty much forgot everything after that. Except to try and sound smart. So he was trying to get the, wise college professor persona thing going. Starting sentences with words like “actually” seemed to fit.

 What he did not see was how her eyes zeroed in on his black and silver embossed Ricketts Glen ID card when he pulled it out and signaled for another round of drinks. “Actually,” he said, “There was a church here. That was a really long time ago. A seminary. They trained ministers here. But the Clark Street bars got a little wild. That’s when they built the baseball park. Wrigley Field they called it. It was here until they tore it down to build Ricketts Glen.”

 Inside Ricketts Glen

The security code finally clicked all clear, he heard the buzzer, the green iron door whooshed open and he saw the man in the glass booth holding the Chinese manufactured automatic weapon nod.  He nodded back and then watched as she immediately unbuttoned her coat in the climate-controlled air. “Oh my God. It is like what, 69 in here or something?”

 “To be precise, it’s kept at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit.” He said authoritatively. “So you like our little corner of the world?”

 “I had like seen stories about places like this, but I’d never actually like been in one? So like, who is Ricketts?”

 “Oh they were the family that owned the stadium and the baseball team.”

 “So what happened? I mean look at this place,” she said, taking in the sweeping green grass lawns lit by artificial light designed to lower blood pressure, each of the homes with their own green space, gardens, streams sprinkling through the community all encased inside a translucent bubble thin as a microchip yet capable of deflecting a nuclear attack. “I mean this place is like heaven! These Ricketts people, they must have been like geniuses or something, right?”

 “Well, depends on how you read history I guess,” he said like someone who should be smoking a pipe and wearing a faded corduroy blazer with patches on the elbow.

 “The Ricketts kids bought the baseball team and the stadium for the same reason any of us would have. It was a toy. And their Daddy had the money, so why not?”

 “Mmm,” she said, as we walked through the artificial summer air to his house.

 “They wanted to fix up the stadium. So they did what any of the wealthy folks of that era would do. They went looking for other people’s money to pay for it.”

 “So they like really did that back then?”

 “Oh but of course my dear,” he said punching in the security code for his front door. As they walked in, the size of the rooms, the décor, maybe the music, he wasn’t sure, made her eyes go wide again. “This place is something!” she whispered as she tossed her coat on a chair and begin to take it all in.

 What People Used to Believe

“C’mon” he said, the elevator is this way. I’ll show you my Tower Room.” Or, as some people called it, he thought, my bedroom.

“OK,’ she said, for some reason now a bit meekly. She then got a quizzical look on her face, “But wait, she said, these Ricketts people? Did they get other people’s money? Or did they use their own?”

 “Oh, that’s the interesting part. I mean they really tried. The first place they went was of course to the government. That was back when the way the government worked was that if the politicians and the business people who owned them said something the right way, they could make anybody believe anything.”

 “Huh?”

 “Well the Ricketts tried to get tax money, bonds, to pay to fix up their stadium. And in those days people actually believed that the more money flowed to the rich people, the better life would be for poor people.”

 “What? People like believed that? No way!”

 “Oh yeah,” I said. Back in those days, people voted against their own self interest all the time. Why I remember reading about when all this in the history books. The Ricketts kids said they wanted tax money that would have gone to schools or firemen to pay for their baseball team. It didn’t work. They ended up paying for their “stadium improvements” themselves. Giant scoreboards, walkways, hotels, retailers. And then over the years, the baseball part just kind of faded away and Ricketts Glen was built. A new standard in luxury. For the right people of course.

 

“But . . . I mean I know maybe I don’t like understand this stuff, but that makes no sense at all! How did they like pull that off?” she said as the elevator door swooshed open unto the tower room. A 360 degree view of the twinkling Chicago night, the stars blending in with the city lights.

 Kicking off her heels, she ran past the bed to the window, “Oh. My. God! This is like beautiful! No wonder they wanted to like tear down the baseball stadium! So explain to me again how they got from the crummy old baseball stadium to all this wonderful luxury? Because, like, I am really having trouble getting this.”

 “They were rich people. There was a club. They were in it.”  

“Well I’ll tell you one thing,” she said, dancing over to the bed and leaping into the middle then motioning him over with her finger.

 “What’s that?” he said as she grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him down beside her.”

 “I’m sure glad that I didn’t live back when there was a yucky old baseball stadium here.”

 “Me too. he said. Me too.”

 Then no words. Only the snow.

Falling on the bubble where there used to be a baseball park.

*****

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

James Joyce.

     The Dead

4 Responses to “After Baseball Ended”

  1. hcgagel Says:

    Kinda scary, Roger — because it’s all too plausible

  2. chicagoguy12 Says:

    Yeah. . .this might happen long before 2050.

  3. toritto Says:

    Roger – Nicely done! I still remember the Ebbets Field Houses!

    Regards,

    Frank

  4. freeriverpress Says:

    I love it, Roger. Yes, it is plausible and I like the fact that your making your point through a story. So much more fun to read than a straight ahead commentary. Please keep me posted on every new post.

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