The Utility Player, Chapter 17

The up was still aglow from the kind and caring thing King did.

This was down at Cupped Hands Park in unincorporated LA County, between Slauson and Inglewood proper. The up had lured King away from tennis to play Whiffle ball, and King had beat him fair and square, making him one of the few people ever to go 2-0 on the up, because he beat him fair and square last time too.

Cupped Hands Park is a great place to play Whiffle ball because you can pitch and bat off the proscenium stage where youth groups sometimes practice drill routines. If no one is using the stage, it makes a dramatic playing field. The ball, if clouted, will land back, back, back in the seats, which are actually benches. You have to check under the benches to make sure no one is sleeping under there.

When it’s all clear, you can have a great game of Whiffle ball in between sets of tennis, as King and the mf have done twice. Yes, occasionally a ball will get lost in the ivy along the west side of the amphitheater. This happened both times King beat the mf; the first time on a walk-off hit-by-pitch; the second on a mighty clout.

Tip your hat! That’s all you can do. It had been months since the mf had gotten down to Cupped Hands Park, but here he was, getting ready to take a 6-0 bageling from Tommy Lee and Antoine, but first King had something for him.

“I got that ball we lost last time,” he said.

“That’s amazing,” said the mf, his heart so aglow he missed the details of how King had spotted this black-and-yellow plastic ball from way over in the tennis courts. He probably must have gone back and looked and kept looking ’til he found it. And then he hung on to it, keeping it in his tennis bag until the next time the up showed up.

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