Summery Summary A rundown of sporting options, from pickup hoops to picking up distant ball games on radio

June 03, 2001

This summer I will listen to baseball games on an AM radio while
dozing in a hammock as a tall, sweating glass of lemonade rises
and falls on my stomach with my breathing. The ice cubes will
tinkle like wind chimes when I wake, with a start, to some
ancient announcer shouting, "Tell Aunt Biddy to feed the kitty,
'cause that ball is gone!" Then I'll fall back to sleep.

I will buy one packet of Topps baseball cards this summer and
peel open the wrapper, hoping to get an Ichiro Suzuki--only to
find, instead, three Armando Almanzas, which I will clothespin to
the front fork of the green Schwinn that I plan to buy this
summer.

This summer I will play softball with my buddies in suburban
parks with chain-link outfield fences, and we will drink Coors
Light while getting 10-runned by lumberjacks. I will watch the
games from rightfield through the airholes in the crown of my
cap, which I will hold in front of my face to keep the gnats
away. Then I will ride my Schwinn home with my mitt dangling from
the handlebars, stopping at Dairy Queen for a Scrumpdillyishus
bar, which I will eat in the parking lot, in full uniform, like a
6'4" Little Leaguer.

I will play pickup basketball games this summer on the baking
asphalt of a brick-oven urban playground, and my sweet jump shot
will make the chain net sway like the grass skirt on a hula
dancer. All the while, on my Samsonite-sized boom box, Earth Wind
& Fire will sing September.

This summer I will leave work at two o'clock on a Tuesday, citing
a dental appointment, only to hit beautiful arcing draws and
fades for three hours on a driving range out by the airport. Then
on Saturday, full of hope, I will shoot 103 on some municipal
goat track and pinch a nerve in my neck.

I will watch fat men sweat through gray T-shirts at an NFL
training camp this summer while I sit comfortably in an
aluminum-framed lawn chair. There I will drink beers kept cold by
a foam-rubber can cozy and fan myself with a roster of rookies
who just might--I will allow myself to believe--put the Vikings
back in the Super Bowl.

I will fall off a skateboard sometime this summer and break my
arm at a really cool angle. I will wear a cast that all my
friends will sign and that women will find sexy. I will tell
everyone that I broke it hang gliding.

This summer I will set my alarm on a Sunday morning to watch
Breakfast at Wimbledon and see Bud Collins, in pants evidently
cut from a Holiday Inn bedspread, interview a victorious Pete
Sampras, a tradition that I always find comforting. Then, five
hours after waking up, I will make several abortive efforts to
get out of bed.

I will wait for the NBA Finals to conclude this summer in some
oppressively hot city. As celebrating citizens light up the night
with gunfire and blazing squad cars, I will watch the 10 o'clock
news and be glad that I don't live there. Because this summer I
will have no greater concern than how to cut my lawn in those
diagonal stripes of contrasting shades you see in major league
stadiums. On that grass I will throw lawn darts and play croquet
and make a Wiffle ball move like a moth in a maelstrom.

This summer I will buy live bait and sandwiches, served up by the
same hands in a shack by the side of the road. Then I will fish
from a dock with my feet in the water and my back resting on an
Igloo cooler. In eight hours I will catch nothing but a buzz.

I will save 700 soda-pop proof-of-purchase labels this summer,
and I will mail them to a P.O. box in Nebraska so that sometime
next December, I can giddily go to my mailbox and find inside a
Tampa Bay Devil Rays souvenir key chain.

This summer I will spend all day at the beach throwing a football
in flawless spirals and running tight post patterns around old
men with metal detectors. I will never go into the water, and I
will never make it past page 7 of James Michener's Hawaii.

I will stand on my front stoop this summer and watch kids plead
"One more inning" when their mothers call them to wash up for
dinner.

And when the sun goes down, I will park on the highest hill
overlooking the city and tune in faraway, 50,000-watt radio
stations, and I will listen to ball games drifting in on a breeze
from the West Coast. And when the games fade out, I will lie back
on the hood of my car and look up at the stars and listen to the
crickets.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)