Gee, It’s a Wonderful Game
By Jeff Baker
I held the old baseball in my hand and gawked.
“Babe Ruth?” I said awed. “Babe Ruth? Lou Gehrig? John Maguire? They signed this?”
“Well, those are their names,” Marc said. “I wrote ‘em when I was in grade school.”
“Oh,” I said. “Hey, who’s John Maguire?”
“Guy I went to school with. The ball is old, though,” Marc said. “It belonged to my Great-Grandfather. It’s at least a hundred years old. Probably older. He had it when he was a kid and he was born in 1895.”
“And somebody broke the window and tried to steal it?” I said, thumbing at the cracked glass in the old door.
“No,” Marc said. “I think the ball did it. I think the thing’s haunted.”
“Sure. Of course,” Nobody ever called me up to help them move or paint. It was always demon-possessed something-or-other. “I know my rep. I’m a walking magnet for the walking dead. When did this start acting up?”
“About six months ago,” Marc said. “I brought it here from Mom’s house and I thought I’d lost it in my apartment. I had it sitting on top of my bookcase…”
“On top of the old ball cap from school,” I said. He’d looked damn good in the uniform too, I thought.
“Yeah,” Marc said. “Then one morning I looked up and it wasn’t there. I thought it had fallen on the floor, but I checked under everything. When I got home from work the next afternoon, it was lying on the couch. That’s halfway around the room.” He shook his head. “That was the first time. It started showing up in places I hadn’t put it. I thought it was someone breaking in so I had my landlord change the locks.”
“And that didn’t help?” I said.
“Nope,” Marc said. He sighed. “The kicker, Billy, was when I was at home one night and I heard a THUMP THUMP THUMP! I’d put the ball in a drawer and it was bouncing away in there. I got up, opened the drawer and the thing sailed out, bounced off the ceiling and landed on the table. In a half-eaten bowl of soup I hadn’t put up.”
“Have you called an Exorcist? Or maybe ESPN?” I asked.
“No, I figured I’d call you first.” Marc said.
I sighed again. I should get a webpage: Billy Gonzalez, Ghosts Handled While U Wait. I shook my head.
“Okay, okay. You said you got this ball from your Grandfather?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Marc said. “In a box full of stuff after he died a few years ago. My Aunt still lives out there in California and she sent it to me.”
That was when the ball started to bounce on the table where I’d set it. It rolled off the table and over to the door with the broken window. I had a thought.
“Where was your Great Grandfather when he got this ball?” I asked.
“New York City,” Marc said. “He moved out west in ’59 I think. My granddad had a job out there and went with him.”
“Yeah, and you wound up going to college in Kansas and that’s where you met me. Did any of your family ever mention anything spooky about this baseball?”
“Okay,” I said. “Let me try something.” I walked over to the baseball on the floor and cleared my throat. “California,” I said.
The ball reacted. It bounced on the floor a couple of times and then jumped through the shattered window, landing on the ground.
“West,” I said. “It’s heading west. Or trying to. Whichever team your Great-Grandfather liked, the ball seems to still be, well, loyal. Maybe that’s why they took it out to California in the first place.”
“So, I mail it out to California?” Marc said.
“Probably be safer to ship it by rail or something ground-based,” I said. “The way that thing acts.”
“Yeah,” Marc said. “And there’s probably no way to get a haunted, window-breaking ball insured in the mail.”