The End Of Baseball (From Bullet Point)
Coach Bouchard met all the baseball players after school that day in the gym. The coach was a little white-haired guy with big hands and cold blue eyes that never seemed to blink. He’d coached baseball at East Canton High for forty years, won many district championships and six state championships, but before that he’d had a long career in the minor leagues, finally making it to the majors for the last week of his last season, and going one for seven at the plate, that one being a triple, as Wyatt and the whole team knew from looking him up on-line.
The players sat in the stands, Coach Bouchard on his feet before them. “Any of you guys not heard the news by now?” he said. No one spoke. “Pretty straightforward – we got the ax. Not just us, all sports, all what they call extracurriculars.” The coach had a way of dragging out certain big words, like extracurriculars, resulting in a tone Wyatt thought was sarcastic. “Excepting for the marching band – that got saved at the last minute. What’re they gonna march for, that’s my goddamn question.” Coach Bouchard glared at the team, like they’d done something wrong. “How about you guys? Any questions of your own?”
The boys were silent.
“This ever happen to you before?” the coach said. “Don’t think so. Then there gotta be some questions.”
A kid said, “Why? Why is this happening?”
“Town’s broke,” said the coach.
“How can the whole town be broke?” said another.
“State’s broke, too,” the coach said. “School budget comes part from the state, part from property tax here in East Canton. But when folks is in foreclosure – you all know what that means? Foreclosure?” Nods here and there. “When the bank’s taking your house away – that’s foreclosure.” Wyatt knew already: he’d seen it happening on his own street. “And when folks are in foreclosure, do they keep on paying their property tax?”
“Why should we?”
Wyatt glanced back up in the stands, saw that question had come from Willie Garcia, a senior, the back-up middle infielder. He didn’t remember ever hearing Willie speak before, never seen much expression on his face, either. Plenty of expression now: he looked angry.
“I hear you,” said Coach Bouchard. “And it’s not just folks’s houses. When a business goes under, say a business like Baker Brothers, then they stop paying taxes, too. Not many businesses that size in East Canton. Town can go broke in a hurry.” He gazed at the boys. “Any other questions? If there ain’t, those of you what got equipment belonging to the team, go on and keep it, far as I’m concerned. Other’n that – “
“I’ve got a question,” Wyatt said.
“Shoot,” said the coach.
“Where are we going to play baseball?”
Coach Bouchard closed his eyes and shook his head slowly from side to side.
Tuesday April 27, 3:30 PM ET: PA on Cover to Cover, Sirius/XM channel 163.
Tomorrow: back to Albie Rose, Foster and Tiffany 3.
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