by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
SEATTLE, Wash.--It is a slander that my success is due to the fact that Bob Melvin, the new manager of the Seattle Mariners, was a student of mine. I gave him a C+.
The M's came to me, not I to them.
"Of course you're a tad over the normal age for a pitcher, but 74 is not... Anyway, it's your curve ball that we need." This was Bryan Price, the pitching coach. I taught him everything he knows, to say nothing of most of what he has forgot.
I did not need this. They needed me.
I negotiated on my own behalf a three-year contract for 17.5 million dollars. My agent would have been delighted, had she lived to see this. Dolores, wherever you are, smile on this deal. I'm sure you would have held out for 20 million, but I am, as you so often complained, insufficiently greedy.
Before the home opener here in Seattle, Bob came to me and said that they were hoping the starting pitchers could last at least five innings. And was there any way that I could negotiate a higher grade than C+ for Freshman English?
Does it matter?, I asked him. I mean an emeritus professor still has some clout, however faint. But why do you need it?
Prof. Brown, said he, you know...
Would you mind calling me Clint? I said. Professor Brown sounds bad on the tv. No hurler of my stature has ever been known as Professor.
Of course, said he. You know,Clint, that baseball is largely a game of statistics. I mean there are more data in the record books of baseball than in the printouts from the Hubble telescope. So a C+ just sits there after my name forever and ever and no matter how many gold gloves I win as manager, it will never go away.
I did not realize that gold glove awards went to managers, I was on the point of saying, when it occurred to me that something was terribly wrong here, that I did not belong here, but I am drifting into a song... Bob, I said, how about this? You start me against the Angels and don't pull me out before the seventh inning and we'll see what I can do.
Done, said he. I mean, Done, Clint. Sir.
We shook on it.
Came the opening day. I fanned three batters in a row. The fans went wild. Something about my age causes them to cheer even my goofs. When I do well, the noise is deafening, even when my Beltone is turned off.
But then I just stood there on the mound.
The ump looked at me. What? thought I. A balk? Bryan Price came out to the mound. What's going on? I asked.
The inning is over, said he. I think you're having a senior moment.
Is that good? I asked.
Hard to say, said Bryan. It is better than a rotator cuff injury, that's for sure. Come on to the dugout and we'll have some Gatorade and talk about it.
Ichiro came up and bowed deeply before me. The Japanese venerate the elderly, of course, but he rather overdoes it. Still, a little veneration looks good on the record.
Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.