"I don't remember," he says.
Call what I am about to say sexist, but I can't hold it back:
Imagine you're a manager, and a man, and you run out onto the field to argue with an umpire, who is also a man. And his wife is with him. And yours runs out there with you. You are fuming and yelling, "Where the rats rats rats was your ratsing head on that ratsy-rats-rats play for ratsake, you..."
(I use this terminology because during one of the Q and A sessions on the cruise, Greg Olson was asked what players are saying when you see their lips moving angrily on television, and he said, "Mostly 'Rats!' ")
...and your wife is squeezing your arm and saying in your ear, "Dear, remember what happened the last time you called him a rat." And the umpire is steaming and getting ready to give you the big hard thumb, and his wife is studying your face and whispering to her husband, "Look at his eyes. There's hurt there. He's just upset because he's not getting a chance to play anymore. So you two have that in common."
I'm not denying that the wives would be right. I'm just saying that you and the umpire would feel less legendary.
Ferguson Jenkins and I, as I believe I mentioned, have a little history together. Back in 1983, on assignment from this magazine, I took part in the first fantasy baseball camp—middle-aged guys playing with the '69 Cubs. In the final game of that camp, I hit the longest ball of anybody, including the old big leaguers. This was also the longest ball I had ever hit in my life, which made me feel that in some sense I might still be developing. Three hundred fifty feet. Caught. By a great pitcher who happened to be playing left-field. Fella named Jenkins.
Who revealed to me on this cruise that he doesn't remember it—at all. He didn't even say, "Oh, hmmm, yesss..." unconvincingly, or express any hint of remorse, or make any effort to rack his brain. You might think he would at least recollect getting a shot to play leftfield, and making good on it, by gosh, when a camper's blast actually forced him to go back, back, reaching over his shoulder....
Whereas the popcorn from the eccentric reliever's nose is etched vividly. "Get it way up in the air," would he?