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Bases Loaded, Home Run

I am an indigenous New Yorker and have been a Yankee fan and an athlete all my life. I played softball, basketball, volleyball, I swam, skied and ice skated—all in the days when girls sport was separate and unequal—less money and encouragement given to teams in high school and college, pre-Title IX days. I wrote an essay about this for an anthology called “Whatever It Takes; Women on Women’s Sport,” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1999. We had a reading when the book was launched and it was thrilling to meet other athletes who had become writers from all over the country.

I was probably the only girl in elementary school who snuck a transistor radio and headset into class to listen to the World Series. It was played during the days back then. I was never caught and managed to keep my grades up enough to satisfy my parents. So whenever the World Series comes around and the Yankees are in it, I’m engaged. I’m watching those players and slugging the ball into the outfield in my imagination, running flat out around the bases, stealing bases.

Last night, the fourth game in the series was very exciting. Two men on base 2 x, Johnny Damon stealing two bases, heart stopping. The words, “bases loaded” came to mind as a metaphor for a piece of writing that’s loaded and ready to fly to home plate. This doesn’t happen without a lot of thoughtful revision. Revision is not the play-offs and it’s not the World Series; it’s spring training. The sketch-books are warm-up, keeping the muscles supple. Revision is more grueling.

Indeed, writer and athletes have a lot in common: discipline (practice, meeting deadlines,) a desire to win (get published), team-mates (the workshop), a coach (the writing instructor), sports-wo-man ship (accepting critique, offering critique), and so on.

Game 5 tonight, a chance for the Yankees to wrap it up.


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