Best Throw in the History of Baseball

Onto the beach, attracting no more attention than would a unicorn, walks Tall Blonde. Six-one, golden tan. Slender sinuous limbs with no hint of a skeletal frame, a confluence of neatly-aligned rubberoid components. Baby blue bikini, ivory-white straw fedora with blue flourish, perfect match for her beach bag and towel. Hair the white of lilies, of fine linen. Because she sets up camp thirty yards from me, I cannot see her eyes, yet I suspect they are perversely green.

Arriving ten minutes later, encamping twenty yards from me, are Tall Man with Young Son, and Bearded Man with Young Daughter. Tall Man is modestly muscular, dark hair cropped short. Reclining on a blanket, he takes out a cell phone into which he talks for his entire stay at the beach. Bearded Man, shorter and stockier, with curly black hair, stands at water’s edge, supervising Young Son and Young Daughter. Neither man wears jewelry. They behave as might casual acquaintances who meet by accident at the beach, an image called into question by Young Son and Young Daughter, who play together as siblings do, sharing toys, whispering conspiratorially.

Tall Man and Bearded Man are the only males within scoring distance who do not try to catch the eye of Tall Blonde. It is noteworthy, therefore, that Bearded Man is the only one who does catch her eye. She crosses and stands beside him, ankle deep in the lake, watching Young Son and Young Daughter splash, talking like old friends.

This adult conversation is surreptitiously monitored by Girl With Expensive Camera and Girl With Blue Hair, both wearing neo-Goth bikini-style suits, who sit near a blue tent on the grass above the narrow beach, red plastic wagon and coolers set up in defensive perimeter. Girl With Expensive Camera, long lens pointed in the direction of Tall Blonde and Bearded Man, takes many pictures, after each of which she and Girl With Blue Hair inspect the image, giggling and wiggling.

This photography exercise is cautiously monitored by Boy With Strong Arm and Boy With Red Hair, who toss a baseball, one at water’s edge, the other
on the edge of the grass above the beach. Occasionally they switch positions, taking turns in proximity to Girl With Expensive Camera and Girl With Blue Hair. At no time does either Girl indicate she is aware of either Boy.

Throwing of the baseball is watched — indifferently, one might guess — by Man In Old Blue Swim Suit, lying on his towel well above the beach, body in the shade of a small maple tree, feet in the sun. He is gray haired, sun burnt, heavy-set.

He lies on his back, hands clasped behind his neck, head high enough to see everyone on the beach before him. It is a pose requiring strength and flexibility in greater measure than is suggested by his waistline and the deliberateness with which, thus far, all his movements have been made.

A moment comes. Boy With Strong Arm, perhaps trying to give Boy With Red Hair an excuse to approach the blue tent, throws the ball hard and high. Boy With Red Hair runs, leaps nimbly, but cannot snare the ball, which sails on toward grass above the beach.

Man In Old Blue Swim Suit rises swiftly to his feet, running toward the ball as it hits the ground. He bends over, scoops it on first bounce with his left hand and, in one motion, transfers the ball to his right hand and flips it backhand toward Boy With Red Hair, who is running after it.

The ball smacks perfectly into his outstretched glove. Boy With Red Hair blinks, looks at ball, shakes his head, looks at ball again, and waves a thank-you. Man In Old Blue Swim Suit nods formally, hunches his shoulder a couple times, looks left and right as if to acknowledge a crowd. He stretches, walks back to his towel, snaps it up with his left hand, shakes it, folds it, and tucks it under his arm. With a last look around, he strides toward the beach, drops his towel in the sand, and sits down on it, gazing out over the lake.

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