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How the World Ended

By Timothy Carlson and Richard Turner

"For it was like the death of a favorite grandmother. A season whose life was beautiful and full and gave everyone from Southie to Stonington, Connecticut to Groton to Charlestown, New Hampshire a year they will reminisce about until old Fenway calls them back again."

--Peter Gammons

There are two orbs high in the sky. Over on the side, the moon. It is full, bright, and irrelevant. And in the center, 120 feet above the diamond, the ball is frozen. Sweep down to the plate. Carl Yastrzemski is wound up in an arc, his face etched in a wide, silent scream. Sweep around in a dizzy circle. Thirty thousand necks upstretched, lungs roaring up in desperation. Sweep wider, around a city, a hundred miles, New England. The energy of a million stored-up workday hells turned to fervent belief, poised. All that energy, with a terrific whoosh, tornados up from all around, whirling and curling toward that white dot in the sky, hanging and helpless, dead. But it takes on a strange power, that ball, for it sucks everything in. The cloud rushes into it like the tiny capsule that once spewed out the universe and wants it all back, and takes it, in one horrible gulp, one awesome moment. An explosion of silence.

Sweep down to the field in the center, green and pulled tight and pulled apart by rubber bands of dirt. Suddenly, far beneath the ball, thwack. It snaps. The men leave their private turfs as one and crash to each other like the joust of great elks. They come together with a thundering of a team, but there is no sound. Layered in bandages, packed in ice, paralyzed, you thrash to hear the sound and there is none. Johnny Bench is in Pete Rose's arms, and the ball is high above shallow center. Everyone knows this now. No one is covering third base, but Yasztremski is invisibly flying to the dugout and the dark tunnel behind it to the locker room. The ball descends. Cesar Geronimo extends his arm and it is swallowed up. The gigantic humming cluster of Reds is swarming and heaving and falling over itself like a nest of insects to its dugout and its own locker room. The ball is discarded somewhere or hoarded. The universe of hope is now one, ordinary, baseball. The people are very tired. The World Series is over in a huge collective sigh.

And Bill Lee is going to the Eliot Lounge to play bumper pool.

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