I have so much to tell you.
I went back to Cream City today, partly to watch another game and partly to continue my anthropological research. If I’m being honest, though, it was mostly just to watch the game. I love it over there. There’s something about the smell of the grass, the look of the field…. It’s at once familiar and brand new. What happens over there isn’t quite like going to a game at Miller. The pace is different – more leisurely. There’s no scoreboard ribbon encouraging you to "make some noise," no dancing for the jumbotron, no trivia questions between innings, no all-fan giveaways. Don’t get me wrong – I love those things. I’ve been to so many all-fan giveaway games that I have more Brewers bobbleheads than I know what to do with. But if you take all those things away, the game is different. Except it isn’t, really. But your experience of it is. Not better, not worse. Just different. The men all wear hats and blazers and ties; the women wear summer dresses with kitten heels or smart skirts and silk blouses. I looked around the stands today, and about half the crowd was actually keeping score. I barely remember the last time I kept score at a baseball game – I think it may have been at County Stadium, when I was seven or eight years old.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I left for the lab at about eleven o’clock this morning, figuring that the Hops would probably be playing another day game. Turns out I was right. There’s nothing more thrilling than jumping from one universe to another in the blink of an eye. One moment I was in the lab, fussing around with my cathode tube, and the next I was just outside the Schlitz Stadium press box, my ears suddenly filled with the excited buzzing of an eager crowd. I breathed in a deep lungful of Cream City air, then rapped on the press box door.
After a few moments it lurched open, and I was greeted once again by the round and ruddy face of Bud Swartz, Madison Tribune.
"Jacob!" He managed to cough, before removing the cigar from his mouth. "Good to see you, boy! Come on in." He reached over and clapped me on the shoulder thrice in rapid succession, effectively propelling me through the doorway and into the room.
"Good to see you, too, Bud," I said, rubbing some life back into my shoulder. "How are we doing?"
"We stink! Just lost two of three to the Lizards." This last word was accompanied by a derisive sneer. "But maybe you —" he jabbed his cigar in my direction "—can be our good luck charm today. Huh?"
He sat down in front of his typewriter, re-inserted the cigar, and started banging away at the keys. "Maggie’s down talking to Ruxley, God help her. His knees have been acting up lately and he’s hot as a two-dollar pistol. Of course this is Maggie, so maybe it’s Wrench I should be worried about! Hah!" He paused to slam the carriage back to the left with a satisfying thwack. "Sosuke Moto’s got the ball today. Japanese kid – one of the first in the league! We signed him a few years ago and pushed him through the minors pretty quick. Just turned 25 last week. He’s got a live arm, though. It’s just filthy the things he does with a screwball." He paused to chuckle at this, but was interrupted by another knock on the door.
"What the hell? Hang on a minute, Jake." He stood up, sending a stack of papers cascading to the ground, and walked over to the door, muttering under his breath. I bent down to organize the papers that had fallen, and was mildly surprised to see the door slide open and reveal dainty blue patent leather pumps adorning a pair of slender, brown legs.
"Um, hello," came the voice from the door. "I’m Joan Westwood. Maggie’s new intern?"
"Oh, you must be Bud!" Joan giggled. "Maggie told me about you. Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir."
She thrust out her hand, which Bud reluctantly engulfed with one of his own.
"Oh I’m sure she did. Bud Swartz, Madison Tribune. I suppose you’d better come on in."
She stepped inside, her big brown eyes eagerly drinking in the room until they met mine. She looked at me expectantly, and I introduced myself as a friend of Maggie’s.
"Oh, I see," she said, sounding slightly relieved. "I thought you might have been another intern."
"Two interns? Lord have mercy," muttered Bud from back in his chair, and Joan shot him a quick little frown.
"Hey, Joan," he continued, "how old are you, anyways?"
That frown again. "Nearly twenty, sir."
"Heheh! Old enough to run down to the concessions stand and buy me a Schlitz, then! You’ll be all right, Joan!" He fished his wallet out of his pocket and removed a rumpled dollar bill.
"Joan, you’ll do no such thing!" Maggie had arrived, and was standing in the doorway, hands on her hips. "We have important work to do, Joan and I. Oh, hello Jake. Care to join us for the official tour?" I said I’d like that very much, indeed, and Maggie winked at Bud on our way out the door.
"He’s all right, really," she said. "I think he’s still a little sore about poor Nicholas, my intern from last summer. To be fair, though, Nicholas was an idiot. Here." She pressed one of her own, crisp dollar bills into Joan’s hand. "We’ll stop on the way back up, and he’ll be your friend forever."
She proceeded to march us through the concourse, stopping now and then to point out little details about the concessions or seats around us. We climbed up into the upper deck, circled around into the outfield, climbed back down through the bleachers, and paused just outside the home bullpen.
"That’s Sosuke Moto," she said, pointing to a young righty looking over some papers with a coach. "Guillaume Guy-Homme is over there, with Bugs Robbins – he accounts for most our veteran wisdom, old Bugs – and oh, there’s Gary Grant on the bench. They call him Gopherball, I’m sure you know, and I’m sure you know why, but he’s actually been all right lately." She paused to inhale, and yelled "go get ‘em today, boys!" A few of the players glanced up at us. Guillaume Guy-Homme hazarded a little wave, and Gary Grant doffed his cap.
"They love me," Maggie confided, with a grin. "Of course they all turn into infants when I write that they had a bad game. But they mean well." She dipped into a little curtsey, and led us back to the press box, pausing on the way to give Joan time to pick up Bud’s Schlitz.
"Well, what do you think?" I had been watching the Hops warm up on the field, and the question caught me by surprise.
Maggie gestured over towards Joan, who was still standing in line.
"What do you think?" She asked again. "She’s a smart girl, Jake. She’s been writing me letters for a little while now. I like her."
"Oh, yeah," I said, unsure of what was expected of me. "She seems great."
"Mmm-hmm," hummed Maggie, with a faint glimmer in her eye. A few dozen feet away, Joan was struggling to keep any beer from spilling over the side of the cup.
"Come on kids, we’d better get back to old Bud."
Old Bud was delighted to receive his ale, and he grew progressively more amiable as the afternoon wore on. It probably helped that the Hops played well – Sosuke Moto held the Detroit Roadsters to two runs on five hits over seven strong innings, and Chaz Simmons and Chester Stokes each had RBI doubles for the Cream City offense.
After the game was over (final score 5-2 Hops), Maggie showed Joan how to operate the telegram and file a story, then disappeared off with Bud down into the clubhouse to talk with the boys.
"Well, it was nice to meet you," said Joan after a minute. "Do you come here very often?"
"I try to, when I can. Nice to meet you, too."
"Maybe I’ll see you around, then! I’ve got to go catch my bus…" She trailed off, and gazed out onto the field. "Isn’t this just great?" She smiled, slipped out the door, and I was alone. She’s right, by the way. It is pretty great. I wandered over towards the wormhole’s invisible mouth, closed my eyes, and let myself be sucked back into the lab. I’ve been in a good mood ever since.
More to come!
By the way, I’m sorry you guys had to see the little dust-up I had with my professor in the comments section of the last post. Needless to say, we haven’t seen eye-to-eye since this whole Cream City thing started.