1981. The narrator informs us the baseball players are on strike. The stadiums stand empty. The narrator manages to pick the lock of his local stadium and goes in to relive a lifetime of memories about the game. He recalls a time when the fields were covered in real grass and not the synthetic turf the owners now employ.
The man keeps returning to the stadium night after night. He decides to cut out a square of the synthetic turf and replace it with a square of grass from his own garden. He then goes on to enlist other true, old time baseball fans to join him in replacing the turf with real grass, a square at a time. Soon, an army of old men are working through the nights to restore the field before the baseball players return.
Kinsella’s prose is some of the most beautiful I have read. I know not everyone is a baseball fan, but Kinsella uses baseball as a metaphor of something ‘good’ and ‘wholesome’ in life. His baseball at its heart is always pure. Even though it can be corrupted by external factors, true fans can always restore it to its rightful status.
That’s what Kinsella writes about, but how he writes his stories is something else. Something magical. Here are a few phrases from the story.
‘The night is clear and cotton warm.’
‘…a square of sod, the grass smooth and pure, cool as a swatch of satin, fragile as baby’s hair.’
‘each sprinkler will sizzle like frying onions as it wheels, a silver sparkler in the moonlight.’
‘squares of sod, moist as chocolate cake, green with icing.’
I could go on, but then I’d basically be reprinting the whole story here. Reading Kinsella is a rare, glorious treat.