The old man’s baseball memories

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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More than 4,000 men, women, and children now are homeless in Nashville—a significant increase since The Great Recession began. To make sure these human beings have the food, shelter, and love they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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The old man’s baseball memories

By Dave Carew

One of the reasons I set my novel Everything Means Nothing to Me in underground Nashville was to give voice to people whose stories otherwise would not be told. I was principally interested in giving artistic voice to Nashville’s dispossessed—to the misfits, the alienated, the addicted, the profoundly lonely. But I also was interested in shedding light on “average people” in our great city…because these people, too, have incredible stories.

I heard one of those stories the other day when I was—of all things—grocery shopping at Kroger. I was wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, and an old man (one of Kroger’s employees) struck up a conversation with me.

“You like baseball, huh? A Red Sox fan?”

“Yes, sir. I’m originally from New England and have been rooting for the Sox my whole life.”

“I love baseball, too,” the old man said. “Was quite good in it in my time. Got signed by the Yankees, right out of high school, here in Nashville. I threw left-handed. Had this mean curve ball. Man, I thought I was gonna be pitching in Yankee Stadium.”

“You never did?”

“Nope. Buddy of mine and I were out one night, with a couple of nice girls—double-date—and he fell asleep at the wheel, driving us home. We were all hurt real bad. Real bad. My left arm was broken in two places and never was the same. I tried learning to throw right-handed—even pitched some minor league games that way—but by that time my time had passed.”

The old man and I chatted for another few minutes. Then he said, “Well, better let you go so you can get your groceries.” With that, he smiled cordially and ambled away, down the potato chip aisle.

I stood watching him for a moment, grateful for his story, grateful that he’d shared it with me, wondering what other stories lay in the hearts and minds of the nameless, numberless shoppers around me.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

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