“That’s Baseball”

That’s what Mark Gremse says at the end of a great story.  If you tell one yourself, he’ll append it to yours, too — if it’s about baseball, that is, or if it could be.  That’s the kind of generous he is.  Right now, the most important thing you need to know about Gremse is that he is a lifetime New York Giants fan.  A Polo Grounds Giants fan.  Here’s a little more about him… 


I’m his all-time favorite Dodger fan. 

If you don’t pick up any nuance there, you probably don’t know Gremse (He’s called by his first name, Mark, outside Sophie’s, where the chances someone’s name is Mark, Joe, or Dave run about 4 to 1).  You’ve already figured out that he has no business having a favorite Dodger fan, especially one born in LA after 1958.  Maybe you think you hear some sarcasm — favorite, yeah, sure, whatever.

But I knew what I was hearing the first time Mark called me that.  It was Love, with Irony — those twin Furies who step-in for the Muses in matters of the art and history of baseball.  Mark is a historian, and his memory is iconographic.  It’s not that he worships idols, though visitors to his apartment on East 4th Street would be forgiven for thinking so. (Think Cooperstown as treehouse fort.)  It’s that he operates on a level of orthodoxy that most of us will never achieve, with a superior spiritual understanding approaching a that of a Zen Master.  He can see the higher truth in apparent contradiction.  That’s why he was open to the possibility that something good can come out of an act that on the surface is so grotesquely wrong:  the befriending a girl with eyes of Dodger Blue.  Gremse can always see the spin on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. There’s a spin on this one — and a story goes with it….

more to come

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