INT. HOLLYWOOD HILLS LIVING ROOM - DAY (1972)
Reveal a scene of post-debauch, something surreal, Warholian kitsch, L.A.-style. It is about nine in the morning. Streams of sun from a glaring hot summer day shape-shift into the room, illuminating objects. The main window is a glorious view of smog-shrouded Los Angeles as seen from high in the Hollywood hills. It is a mansion-cum-whorehouse, a unique combination of creature comforts and Original Sin.
A TV plays in the background with low, muffled sound while The Dating Game is shown on the screen. Bob Seger's “Beautiful Loser” wafts melodically as if a character in the scene.
Large, glossy poster-sized photos hang from the ceiling. Most prominent is a photo of Robert “Bo” Belinsky in 1962. He sits in his “lipstick red” Cadillac convertible, located on Mulholland Drive, the City of Angels spread out below him. Bo is 25 years old, on top of the world. A cigarette dangles out of the side of his mouth. His arms are spread wide as if to announce, “It's my world and I'm welcome to it.”
Other large, glossy poster-sized photos hang from the ceiling. They include 1950s B movie starlet Mamie Van Doren (dancing with Bo at the Peppermint West), Gilligan's Island star Tina Louise, sex symbol Ann-Margret (with Bo in his “lipstick red” convertible on Sunset Boulevard), a Playboy publicity still of Playmate of the Year Jo Collins, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Angels owner Gene “the Singin' Cowboy” Autry, Angels manager Bill Rigney, and one of Bo with Angels teammate Dean Chance posing with former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
A poster-sized photo of legendary gossip columnist Walter Winchell hangs next to the photo of Belinsky. It is a picture of an older Winchell, removed from his New York hey day and hanging on in Hollywood, sitting next to Bo on a couch in 1962, holding a cocktail, whispering in his ear while Bo looks off wistfully. Winchell has a rat-tat-tat style of speaking, well recalled from his years as voiceover for the TV program The Untouchables.
ROBERT “BO” BELINSKY is now 35. He leans forward in his armchair to better examine a picture of himself holding that no-hit baseball 10 years ago. The photo is of himself from the May 16, 1962, edition of The Sporting News. In it Bo is a slick-looking young man in a Los Angeles Angels uniform, surrounded by a number of aging baseball dignitaries and club executives. The older men are dressed in business suits. They are smiling stiffly at the camera, while Belinsky, his head cocked to the left, one eyebrow raised, is smiling that slightly ironic, distrustful smile of his at the baseball he is holding up for view. With it he has just recorded his fourth straight Major League victory and the first no-hit, no-run game in history by a rookie left-handed pitcher. That no-hitter would make Belinsky, at the age of 25, a celebrated athletic personality.
Now, a decade later, he is a different man. His hair is black. He wears it long and shaggy rather than slicked back and gleaming as he did when the photograph was made. He remains darkly handsome, although his skin is no longer tight and sleek. There are lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth. He is wearing a cream-colored bathing suit with “Bo” embroidered in script on the left leg. Despite added flesh spilling over at the waist, despite the tiny stubble of beard and the lines and the look of aging, somehow BO looks better than he did 10 years before. He looks truer, more substantial, as if the lines and added pounds had forced upon him dimensions and substance he did not have then, and which he had not consciously cultivated since. He seems less slick, less glossy, less conscious of his external self. He no longer possesses that pampered, satisfied look that gave one the impression that if you tried to grab hold of him, your hands would slip off from the grease.
As is his custom, he will do nothing more strenuous than sit for hours in the living room of this spacious ranch home. Possibly, he will work out his horoscope. But it makes little difference what his day's horoscope suggests (a long hike in the mountains?); his routine will not vary. He will sit until noon in the shadow of the chimney, centered in the living room, so as to best avoid the sunlight pouring through the sliding glass doors to his left. He will sip steadily from the glass on the coffee table beside his armchair and, to amuse himself, perhaps watch a morning quiz show, or just gaze at the many paintings, poems, artifacts and photographs that hang on the walls. Most of the photographs are of his friends, some in cowboy suits, with drawn guns and pixie smiles.
The room is occupied by seven or eight people in various states of sprawl. BO will pass the time in small talk with those same unseen, unheard friends, who drift in and out of this room over which he, the orchestrator of the day's unfolding, presides. While none of the others are seen or heard, throughout BO will react to some of them, remark about them. All are strangely quiet, self-contained, as if this huge room were a universe and each person in it a planet, spinning in an orbit entirely his or her own. Most of them, including BO, have yet to sleep after last night's party, which concluded only minutes ago.
Among these unseen, unheard characters, is Phil, a middle-aged man with modish hair and bell-bottom pants, holding his head to deal with a hangover.
Beside him, folded like a jack-knife on a couch, is a tall, slender girl in a flowered bikini. Bonnie is 18. Her chin is resting on her raised knee so she can best paint her toenails. She is totally absorbed, though occasionally she will look up, wide-eyed, and blow a kiss in BO’S direction.
Another girl in a bikini moves slowly about the room, collecting glasses, emptying ashtrays, dusting. Her name is Linda. Linda has pale blue eyes, bright red hair and, at 30, a fleshy but attractive body.
Standing in front of a mirror is a lean man in his late 30s. He has fine, straight features, unblinking eyes, a long ponytail and gray muttonchops. He is studiously fluffing out his sideburns with one hand; with the other he adjusts the cartridge belt slung over one shoulder. His name is Chris.
Alongside the glass sliding doors that overlook a tear-shaped swimming pool one story below, a skinny man in a white bathing suit sleeps on another couch. This is Lennie, the owner of the house. Lying there, Lennie is making it difficult for a painter to reach the wall behind the couch. Also unseen but later referred to are two gorgeous, tanned girls, both prostitutes of the house, sunning themselves amid slathered oil, next to the pool below. The painters, as it will be revealed, spend all day painting the same wall so they can look at the girls.
His name was Bo Belinsky. He was a street kid from Trenton,
New Jersey, a pool shark and chick hustler with the looks of a
Valentino that melted the hearts of women. When he got caught
up in the rackets, he took a nothing offer to play pro baseball.
After years struggling in the minors, he reached the big time
with the expansion Los Angeles Angels, and in 1962 threw a
no-hitter at Dodger Stadium. He was feted by Hollywood
and Broadway. Toots Shor, Hugh Hefner, Frank Sinatra, Cary
Grant, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Lionel Hampton, J. Edgar
Hoover, Merle Oberon; all invited him to their parties, to mingle
with the Beautiful People. My name is Walter Winchell. I was
the biggest gossip columnist in America and arranged well-
publicized dates for Bo with every broad that counted, and
I knew 'em all: Mamie Van Doren, Tina Louise, Ann-Margret,
Connie Stevens, Dinah Shore, the DuPont heiress, the Shah of
Iran's divorced wife, and countless other beauties of a by-gone
era. From 1962 to 1964, Bo was the most publicized athlete
in America at a time when Mays, Mantle, Unitas, Starr, Chamberlain
and others were in their prime. Angels owner Gene “the Singin'
Cowboy” Autry loved him but his manager, Bill Rigney, was
driven to distraction by his lifestyle. He married the Playboy
Playmate of the Year, Jo Collins, but his career, marriage and
life fell apart. We now find Bo in repose. It is 1972. Bo is a
“beautiful loser,” a guest in an opulent cat house high in the
Hollywood hills. Sports Illustrated's Pat Jordan has come to
write a feature, to find out where it all went wrong. Last night
they all got drunk and ended up at the Hefner mansion. Now
is the aftermath of a night and a life of excess.
BO puts down the picture of himself and sits back in his chair. He shrugs
My career? It was no big thing. I could never get the knack of
what they wanted of me.
He takes a delicate sip from a tall glass and continues.
Oh, I might have had a career if they could have tied me to the
mast. You know, like Ulysses? When he heard the Sirens' song,
he was bewitched.
He raises the glass of vodka and ice to his car and shakes it gently until the cubes tinkle.
You know, Babe, I always seemed headed for the rocks.
He smiles self-mockingly. It is the smile of a man who has such slight regard for himself that he can smile, not at his pun, which is almost cruelly close to the mark, but at the man who can make such a pun.
BO points to the photo of he and Dean Chance with J. Edgar Hoover.
J. Edgar? Man, he’s a swinger. He let me and Dean Chance
shoot Tommy guns at FBI headquarters. I told him if I ever
quit this game, I might need a job. He said, “Bo, there’ll always
be a place for you on the force.”
Did you know I was up for the lead of a TV series featuring a
motorcycle loner named Buddy Solo? Never happened. I was
up for a Vegas act, too. Mamie Van Doren encouraged it.
He points to the photo of he and Mamie dancing.
That’s Mamie and I swinging away at the Peppermint West.
Never happened. Mamie’d say I had a fine voice. I sang to her
in my “lipstick red” Cadillac convertible. She’d say I could sing,
but she had better curves than me.
Sportswriters always wanted a quote, outrageous quips. After my
no-no I told ‘em, “If I’d known I was gonna pitch a no-hitter today,
I would have gotten a haircut.” Or, "My only regret is that I
can't sit in the stands and watch myself pitch." Or, "My philosophy
of life? That's easy. If music be the food of love, by all means
let the band play on."
BO pours some more vodka, tinkles the ice cubes, listening to them.
Somebody called me “sport's most original and engaging playboy-
athlete; cool, slick and dazzling.” I came along before Namath or
any of those guys. Now my name’s synonymous with dissipated
talent. I was 24-51 for six clubs in nine years. I was fined, suspended
and banished to the minors regularly for what came to be viewed
“unstable and childish behavior.” One reporter who loved
me turned on me when I became a loser. He wrote, "There is a
race to Bo Belinsky's pad every morning. It is a race to see who
arrives there first, Belinsky or his milkman. Belinsky has yet to
win." Another wrote, "The Angels are about to market a new Bo
Belinsky doll. You wind it up and it plays all night, all morning
and three innings in the afternoon."
As if listening to a question, BO attentively draws from his glass.
You wanna know about the Sunset Strip incident? Sure, Babe.
It was five o'clock in the morning. I’m driving my “lipstick
red" Caddy. I got some kinda showgirl up front. Dean Chance
has a girl in the back seat. My girl starts to profess her love
for me. I’m in no mood for that crap at five in the morning so I
kick her out. She refused to get out so I kicked her out and drew
blood. Then the L.A.P.D. arrive. Dean had a wife back in Ohio,
takes off runnin’, but those guys told him, “Halt or I’ll shoot.”
Don’t mess with the L.A.P.D., man, so he gave up. The press got
ahold of it and the club went crazy. My girl threatened to sue until
I agreed to let her stay with me a week. She still got a lawyer. Broads, they’ll cut your balls off. Can’t trust ‘em.
Then Braven Dyer of the L.A. Times comes to my hotel room in Washington, drunk at three A.M. He wanted an exclusive, at three
A.M. He threatened me so I punched him unconscious. The dean
of the L.A. press corps. After that I was banned to the minor
In Boston at five A.M., I arrived at the hotel. Everybody’s out
front. I figured it was a lawn party, take my coat off and set it
on a lamp post. The hotel was burning down. Bill Rigney’s
counting heads. "My God!" he screamed. "He's not here! He
must be inside." Then he sees me stepping from a cab reeking
of booze and broads. Takes one look and says, “Belinsky, see
me in my office at the park.” The writers asked me and I told
‘em, "Boys, you know you're going good when you beat a
bed check and your hotel burns down." I was 1-5 at the time.
That evening I pitched again and lost.
He pours some more Vodka, twirls it.
I was engaged to Mamie in 1964. Bud Furillo kind of staged it
as a publicity stunt. I had to break it off. She told the reporters
she was returning my ring before I cut it off her finger, or worse,
take over the payments.
Mamie's a good broad. I still think she's got a little class –
I told the press I felt I'm stable, proof of which was that I was
still single. Only unstable guys get married. Shortly thereafter,
I married Jo Collins, the Playmate of the Year. One night I plucked
a $500 wig from her head and threw it onto Sunset Strip.
He takes a sip, then points to the Playboy still of Jo.
When I reached 30 I knew it was over. There were no more peaks
and valleys. All there was it seemed were fines, suspensions
and banishments to the minors. Every time I got sent back it
was right when I thought I was on my way, like when I punched
Dyer. I was 9-8 with a 2.87 ERA on a club that didn’t hit, but
I was unstable and self-destructive. By the time I was 30 I was
just an aging and unsuccessful playboy, a parody of Bo Belinsky.
It’s no fun knowing that in every home in America your birthday
is celebrated as a day of infamy.
It is a telling remark, uncharacteristically cute. Bo seems to delivers his one-liners and philosophies more for effect than truth. He is a man more concerned with style than substance, remarks tossed off, discarded really, with that ironic smile of disavowal - as if it were nothing but the surplus from a warehouse of such remarks, remarks he must unload whenever he feels the occasion deserves not truth but wit. Yet the annoying suspicion remains that Bo felt the remark contained more truth than wit. Whether this feeling is nothing more than the overblown self-pity of a too shallow man or the heightened perception of a too sensitive man is not clear. It is certain only that Bo dissipated a promising career, that people had grown tired of him, and that most of his difficulty could be traced to his personality.
BO seems to hear another question
Namath, you ask? Those guys, Namath, Kenny Harrelson,
Derek Sanderson; they cultivated their personality. Me? The
public became bored.
He leans forward in his armchair to better examine the picture of himself holding that no-hit baseball 10 years ago. With the tips of his fingers he displaces a lock of hair from his forehead. It is an exquisite, almost delicate gesture done in slow motion.
What was I thinking then? I was thinking, “Man, a no-hitter,
that's nice! I wonder what happens next? I mean, a no-hitter, it's
nice but it's no big thing."
He picks up his glass, takes a sip and returns it to the table.
Sure, I would have liked to have had a career after that. But I
never thought I would. I knew there was always someone waiting
around the corner to take a shot at me. Besides, there's no way
I could have lived my life differently. Can a leopard change his
spots? You can shave all the fur off the poor beast, and he's still got
his spots, right? Who can explain it? Why does a mad dog howl
at the moon? Why did I do the things I did?
He smiles and drains his glass. He motions with it toward the unseen, unheard redhead, Linda.
Heh, Babe, some more Wheaties?
BO pours more vodka, takes a sip.
After my no-hitter my mother told reporters that her son worked out
every day in a gym. "Bo just loves his body," she said.
Today, a hot summer morning six months after his retirement, BO no longer exercises.
I’m a Sagittarius. A very flexible sign in the universe. A Sag gets
along with everyone.
BO looks about the room at the unseen people.
Let me make some introductions. That’s Bonnie, a stray. I found
her last night on the Strip. She wants to stay.
Over there, keeping my glass full, is Linda. Linda's a good
chickie. She's got her share of patches.
Chris is a prophet. Every afternoon at lunchtime he walks down to Schwab's drugstore, climbs onto a soapbox and preaches to the
passersby. Says nobody never perceives the spiritual. "Dead things
are for blind people . . . The jackals of hell will lick your blood
from the streets.” Then he comes back and watches The Dating
Game. He's all right. A little freaky, maybe, but aren't we all?
He's got his little act, so what? Everybody's got a little act.
That painter’s been working on the same wall for six days,
staring at the pool. There’s two topless chicks sunning
themselves on their backs down there.
Belinsky follows the unseen Linda with his eyes and shakes his head.
So many broads, man, so many broads. It's a shame . . . What
are those lines, “Give me 10 stouthearted men, and soon I'll
have 10,000 more.” Well, make mine chickies.
Laughing, he slides down into his chair, only the top of his head visible, and he laughs. When his laughter fades, he is still smiling to himself.
My problem was simple, Babe. I heard music nobody else heard.
I remember once in the Texas League when the team bus stopped
in Veracruz so we could eat. All the players went into the restaurant except me. I thought I heard music down the street, so I went looking
for it. I found a two-piece jazz band playing on the sidewalk in front of a bar. I listened for a while, and when they went inside,
I followed them. I had a few drinks and then left. I had every
intention of returning to that bus until I ran into another jazz band.
I followed them into a bar, too. What I didn't know was that all
these bars hired jazz bands to lure customers inside. Man, after
that bar, it seemed like every step I took there were these buglers
waiting for me. I woke up six days later in a hotel room in Acapulco.
I had a sponsor. This blonde Mexican - she had to be blonde,
right! - was sitting by the bed saying, “Belinthky! Belinthky! I make
you great Yanqui bullfighter! But first we must change your name.”
I said, “Sure, Babe, we'll change it to Lance. Lance Belinsky,
how's that?” My team? By that time it was in Mexico City. We
had gone in different directions. It was always like that with me.
The sun has begun to move from behind the chimney. It floods through the glass doors. Belinsky raises a hand to shade his eyes. With the other he searches across the coffee table for his sunglasses. When he finds them, he puts them on.
That's better. I don't feel sorry for myself. I knew sooner or later
I'd have to pay the piper. You can't beat the piper, Babe; I never
thought I could. But I'll tell you who I do feel sorry for - all
those guys who never heard music.
Again he falls back into his chair, laughing. The doorbell rings. It is the telephone repairman. Bo watches the unseen Linda leading him to the glass doors, then pointing down at the swimming pool. The telephone repairman stares for a very long moment. BO smiles.
It’s the telephone repairman.
Tell him there was a call for Lloyd Bridges.
BO lets the joke sink in; Lloyd Bridges, star of Sea Hunt, swimming pool, water . . .
A call for Lloyd Bridges? That's trippy, Babe. That's real trippy.
He takes his glass and raises it before his eyes.
(to the phone repairman)
The phones were ripped out of the wall? Is that a fact, Babe?
Ripped out, huh?
He shakes his head in disbelief.
Wait’ll the phone guy gets a load a those topless chicks sunbathing.
He’ll have to install a whole new system.
When we got home from an all-night party, Phil met me at the
door. He'd been kept awake answering calls from my friends. "A
new arrangement must be worked out," said Phil. I replied, "Sure,
Babe," walked over to the telephones, ripped them from the sockets
and threw them through the sliding glass doors into the swimming
pool. It wasn’t the disagreement over the phone that pissed me
off, though. I went out with friends last night, the Strip, usual
places; the Sports Page, The Candy Store. I used to own this
town. I was ignored. Dark tables, removed from the action. A
potbellied man wanted me to play on his Sunday-morning softball
team. He said they had free beer after the game. At The Candy
Store a guy dressed entirely in white, like Tom Mix, said he was
a movie producer and wanted to film my life. "I have just the title,"
I said. "We'll call it A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to a
Career." He asked if I can act, man. "Have I got an act!”
BO leans over.
Hey, Babe, more Wheaties.
He pours some more vodka and sips from it. He is getting drunker.
Near midnight, just as we were leaving The Candy Store, I see
a man with chalky white skin, wearing a purple-velvet jump suit,
leaning against a wall. "Catch his act," I said. "He's doing a fine
imitation of Hugh Hefner." Suddenly I realized it was Hef.
BO points to the photo of Hugh Hefner.
He invited us to his mansion. Said he was bored, Barbie’s in the
hospital. It’s me, Lennie and the rest of the group. He’s got
a Mercedes limo. Said he could use some company. The party
did not go well. Hef leads a tour of his possessions. Then he ushers
them into the living room. Servants spread out a snack of caviar, strawberries and melon, assorted cheeses and hors d'oeuvres
and bottles of champagne. He’s teasing us with his opulent way of life.
(getting angry at the memory)
The guys are all hustlers searching for a way to hitch a ride on
that big bunny bird in the sky. Their talking loud about "deals"
and "scores" they could make with proper backing. The women
are whispering in Hef's ear about "deals" and "scores" of their own.
Hef’s impassive, sitting on the floor Indian-style on a velvet pillow.
He never said more than a dozen words. He was amused to watch
these losers who don’t have what he has. Now I’m pissed because
I know Hef and they’re embarrassing me, so I start to drink. At
dawn, Hef stands up. That’s his cue for us to get the hell out of
his house. Everybody’s dazed, half-drunk. Back here Phil
meets me with a list of complaints over the phone ringin’ all
night. What followed was a typical Polack rage.
BO smiles and sips, contemplating things.
Going to Hefner's house was no big thing for me. I've known the
guy for years. I never much liked that Playboy philosophy. I
mean, you don't use women, Babe, you complement them. They complement you. How can you use a woman? But still, Hef's
a gracious host. I wanted my friends to enjoy themselves. It was
a score for them, something they could talk about for a week.
Instead, they tried to hock his silverware.
I met my wife through Hef. She's one reason I quit baseball. I've
got this thing going with her, a divorce action. It's no big thing,
but it started to get me down. I haven't done much these past
months except try to get amnesia.
He raises his glass.
But it was my fault. I split when she said she wanted to be a Bunny
Den Mother at the Playboy Club in Denver. How's that, trippy?
A Bunny Mother? What would that make me, a Bunny Daddy?
My wife wasn't the only reason I quit. You could say I no longer
heard the Tunes of Glory. I never liked baseball that much - at
first, anyway. I only signed a contract to get out of Trenton. I
was hustling pool and hanging around with bad people. At the
time $185 a month and a ticket to some witches' monastery in Pancakesville, Georgia, didn't look bad. I quit baseball a number
of times over the years, but for one reason or another I always
went back. I almost quit in the spring of 1962. The Angels wanted
me to sign a standard rookie contract, and I refused. Then a few
months later I pitched the no-hitter. The rest is history. I threatened
to quit a few times after that no-hitter, like when they tried to ship
me to the minors for hitting that sportswriter. I felt disconnected,
so I threatened to quit. But that was just a bluff. There was no way
I could quit. I had learned to love the game by then.
BO laughs and pours some more vodka. sipping.
That's funny, isn't it, Babe? Me, the guy everybody said didn't love
the game enough. Ha! I ended up devoting 15 years of my life to
baseball. Man, I loved it. I just didn't take it seriously. I mean, Babe,
I don't take myself seriously, how could I be expected to take a
game seriously? It's a little boys' game. To play it you've got to
be a little boy at heart. The problem is some of these jocks take
it too seriously. They let the game define them. They become, say,
a great hitter, and they begin to think of themselves as great in ways
that have nothing to do with their baseball talent. I never let any
game define me. I was serious when I pitched, but once off that
mound I defined myself. I tried to live my life the way I wanted,
with a little style, a little creativity. In the long run it wore me
down, physically and mentally. Not the playing around but fighting
those guys who misunderstood me. They said I was bad for the
game. Managers were always trying to straighten me out.
BO points to the photo of Bill Rigney.
That’s Bill Rigney, the “White Rat.” My manager with the
Angels. They'd call me into their office and try to read my act.
You know, “Come on, kid, what seems to be bothering you? You
can tell me, I'm on your side.” And when I opened up, when I
stood there with my insides hanging out, they buttoned themselves
up. The next day I'd get shipped to the minors again. It was then
I realized this wasn't a man's game. Men chased broads and got
drunk and were straight with you. They don't have an act. They
aren't hypocrites. For example, when I was going with Mamie,
they called me into the office over and over and told me she was
no good for me. Finally, when I wouldn't listen, they shipped me
to Hawaii. And while I'm there, I get a call from Mamie telling me
that the same front-office people who shipped me out were bothering
her all the while I was gone. If only I didn't see all that, I would have
been all right. But I had this third eye, and when I saw things that
I shouldn't have, I overreacted. Usually it was in a way that made
no sense, like getting drunk. Maybe I see things out of proportion,
or things that aren't even there. Maybe I just don't know how to express what I feel. Who knows? You tell me, Babe. You're my doctor. I
always felt the front office and manager and players should be one
big family. They shouldn't take sides against each other. Man, you
live part of your lives with these people. In a sense, they are your
family. The owner should be like a father to you, take care of you,
BO sips his vodka, then points to the photo of Gene Autry.
That’s Gene Autry, the “Singin’ Cowboy.” He loved me until
I stopped sellin’ tickets. Take my last year at Cincinnati, in
1970. Everybody knew I was on the way out. So why didn't
they start me one game, just one last game? Why couldn't they
let me go out in style instead of letting me rot on the bench?
BO’S attention is diverted by the unseen Bonnie.
What you doing there, Bonnie? Painting your toenails?
He stands up and yawns, leaning over to get a better look.
How do they look?
BO looks at her, openmouthed, stunned.
Babe, they look really beautiful.
Nothing to do? You’re bored? Why don't you read a book, Babe?
He listens to her unheard complaints.
Can't stay still long enough to read a book? Maybe you should
go swimming . . . Sure, Babe, that's it.
(calling out to her)
Unhook the top of your bikini.
That oughtta keep the painters here another hour or two.
He sinks back into his chair and begins cracking his knuckles. He is staring straight ahead again. His eyes pass through and beyond a picture of Lennie in a full-faced beard. The photo is superimposed over a poem that he reads.
"The drifter has vanished
The dreamer, with age, has gone blind.”
BO turns suddenly, and the room is reflected in miniature in his dark glasses.
You know, I played 15 years of baseball and never made a dime
off it. I wasn't that interested in success, that's why. I loved the
game, Babe, not success. Do you think Seaver or Harrelson play
the game because they love it? You bet they don't. They love what
it brings them, Babe. I could never give up enough of myself for
success. Len Shecter talked to me about a baseball book long before
he ever sniffed out Jim Bouton. I told him I wasn't interested. I couldn't
rat on guys I'd played with. That's not my style. I was the last of
baseball's true sportsmen. I never stashed baseball. You know what
I mean? Stash! Stash! Stash!
He stands up and thrusts his hand down his leg as if into his pants pocket. He repeats the gesture again and again.
You can't stash sport. Those other guys talk about sport and they
mean business, they mean something they can stash in their pockets.
Man, you can't stash baseball. If you're lucky, you capture it awhile,
you go through it at some point in your life, and then it goes away
and you go on to something else. Some guys try to live off it forever.
It's a sin to live off sport.
BO sits down. He is trying to compose himself.
I mean, baseball is a beautiful thing. It's clean. It stays the same.
It's an equalizer. It moves slowly in a time when everything around
us is rushing like mad. It's a . . . gee, what am I trying to say . . .
it's a breath of fresh air blowing across the country. Don't laugh.
I mean it! Listen, during World War II when those Japanese kamikaze pilots flew down the smokestacks of our ships, do you know what
they screamed? “Screw Babe Ruth!” That's right. Not screw Knute Rockne or Bronko Nagurski, but Babe Ruth! That's the way I feel
about the game, even today. I just never knew how to express myself properly, that's all. I loved the game, but I loved it my way, not the
way people told me I should love it. I have a debt to baseball. It kept
me straight. Who knows what I might have been without it? Baseball
was the one big thing in my life - if my life contained any big thing.
My running around with broads, that was just passing time. It was
baseball that mattered. I mean, sport keeps you clean, but only for a
while. In the long run it isn't even sport that matters, it's you. You've
got to know when to get off, or else you start handing out too many transfers.
BO reaches down for his glass, picks it up, then, without taking a sip, returns it to the table. “Beautiful Loser” by Bob Seger again plays in the background.
(with a sweep of his arm)
Take this house. I'm just a guest here. No matter where I've been or
who I've been with, I've always been just a guest. I like it that way.
I'm like camouflage. I blend in anywhere - but not for too long. Pretty soon I think I'll head for the islands. If I stand around here too long,
I'll kill the grass. That's the way I've set up my life. I don't want to
take root anywhere. You hear about good soil here or there and you're curious, but really you're afraid to find it. I mean, Babe, you take root,
you give your trust to someone, and it's bound to fall apart. I don't want
to be around when things fall apart. I'm more spiritual than people think.
I don't do malice to anyone. I don't like to see people hurt. When I sense things are falling apart - I have this radar - I snap alert, and then I'm
He sips his vodka.
Follow the sun, Babe, that's it, I follow the sun. I hate it, this way I
am. But who chooses to be what he is, huh? It's in the stars, Babe, in
the stars. I would like to be devoted to some one or thing . . . I just never found anything I could lend myself to. The age of chivalry is dead, Babe. There are no more heroes.
He smiles and stands up.
Nothing left worthy of devotion, know what I mean? That's why my
way is best. Don't forget, “He who plays and runs away, lives to play
some other day."
He throws his head back and laughs that self-mocking, distrustful laugh of his. Then he holds up his empty glass, realizing the vodka is all gone.
Excuse me, Babe. I need more Wheaties. Besides, this conversation is getting a little heavy. Too heavy.
He moves with a long, graceful stride, his body shifting delicately from side to side, his weight slightly forward on the balls of his feet; and yet he moves so lightly, ever so lightly, a man on hot coals, a cat about to flee, leaving not the slightest indentation on this thick carpet over which he passes, exiting staging left.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism