<< Forwards going hey batter-batter... >>
Mailbox Baseball is as old as teen-age driving priviledges, and is
played at varying levels of expertise all over the nation.
In our neck of the woods, contests matching man and mailbox are
traditionally held on Friday nights, frequently in conjunction with
high school football games. Customarily, it is the suporters of the
losing football team who are the most enthusiastic mailbox baseball
players, practicing their craft as they return to their own disgraced
part of town.
One of the finest players ever to grace the sport went to high school
with me, here in Atlanta. Al LaFarge. Perhaps you have heard of his
exploits. It was he who first perfected the "Lancelot" variation,
whereby a short 2x4 is propped, lance-wise, against the car's window
frame, projecting forward and slightly outward, allowing the full
interia of the automobile to be transmitted the length of the 2x4 as
the free end of the lumber came into solid contact with the mailbox.
Before LaFarge, the standard play had been to lean from the passenger
window of a chauffeured sedan, swinging a friction-taped Louisville
Slugger at the standard bent-tin-on-a-stick suburban mailbox, but the
all-brick mailbox soon become the bane of the bat-wielding proles.
LaFarge's new technique worked even with the all-brick items; those it
did not decapitate it uprooted. No mason's handiwork is meant to
survive a direct hit from a 1963 Chevrolet Impala 327 SS. Big Al met
his match late one night, however, when he attempted the
never-before-achieved Lancelot Trifecta, drawing a bead on the selfsame
masonry mailbox he had demolished on both of the two previous Friday
His team scouts, however, had failed to notice that during the most
recent rebuilding the mailbox had been reinforced with four twelve-foot
lengths of 132-pound-per-running-yard mainline railroad rail. The
installation of the rails had required the services of a pile-driver,
since somewhat over seven feet of each rail was inserted into the firm
Georgia clay underlying the property of the aggrieved homeowner. The
brick was merely veneer. Camouflage.
Set the scene: the car, each of its five passenger positions occupied
by a smart-alec white boy utterly devoid of social concience; the lance,
tucked knight-wise under the arm of the primary primate, one end butted
against the car, the other weaving slightly as Al aligned it with ....
the mailbox, an irrestible target in pristine brick and virgin mortar,
beckoning in the moonlight.
Just before the inevitable impact, the aforesaid homeowner, standing in
his front yard at the end of a seventy-five-foot length of
electric-lawnmower extension cord, pressed the trigger on his trusty
Kodak super-eight home-movie camera, bringing into play the triple
floodlights atop the camera, bathing the scene in light.
LaFarge never wavered, his concentration was absolute. The result was
as you might imagine; the 2x4, caught between the massively-reinforced
masonry and the rump-sprung Chevrolet, exploded into organic shrapnel
as it ripped the passenger's door, and Al, completely out of the car.
The resulting lateral displacement of the trajectory of the
mortally-wounded Impala resulted in its inebriated and incompetent
driver's steering starboard when port was required. The first roll
ejected the other student-athletes from the car, and, after an
extensive series of aerial arabesques, the remains of the empty
automobile came to rest, inverted, in a shower of broken glass, oaths
and empty beer cans.
The homeowner's movie film was back from the drugstore about the time
the doctors got the last of the splinters out of Al's armpit, and it
proved that a picture is still worth a thousand words. Among those
requesting prints of this cult hit were the mason, the postmaster, and
the Federal district attorney.
His car demolished, Al feared he would have to walk to our exclusive
private school, but the fear was unfounded; he and his henchmen were
summarily ejected from those hallowed halls. Al's short appearance in
Federal court earned him a year's probation, and his parents were still
buying their neighbors new mailboxes months later.