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Thursday April 24, 2014
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Slave of Softball



For a couple of summers in the early 1970s I was the softball guy at the Ann Arbor News. This didn't entail going to any games, of which there were dozens every night, but arriving at the building at midnight, collecting the score sheets that had been stuffed through the mail slot--they usually overflowed the receptacle and drifted down the basement stairs like a summer snowstorm--and trudging up to my desk on the third floor to organize them by leagues, record the results, update the standings, and write a roundup for each league, so they would be ready to go when the copy editor arrived at 6:30 a.m.

The routine varied little from one night to the next, except when a glorious soaking rain wiped out the schedule and I could spend my shift reading and listening to the radio. It would have been a tedious task even under ideal conditions, and these were anything but. A significant percentage of the score sheets reeked of beer, or didn't identify the league or the teams, or had no first names or (even worse) only nicknames, or were rendered illegible from being used, apparently, as coasters.

I didn't understand any of this. I didn't drink much myself in those days, and I had yet to become a participant in the sport, which sometimes seemed to me to be little more than a prelude to celebratory or consolatory post-game group rehydration with adult beverages.

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