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The Drama of the Diamond

Big MacManiac's Seventy-First Home Run
By Larry Fangman

Charles Mansion–A small man with tangled long hair, a beard, and a dirty face. He has bloody hands and a streak of blood smeared across his left cheek. He wears a coat with large pockets and a St. Louis Cardinals hat.

Crazy Hoss–A large man who wears cowboy boots, a vest, a holster with a pair of six-shooters in it, and a ten-gallon hat.

Emily Delicateson–A small, timid woman. She wears a white dress, a white hat, and white shoes.

(The setting is in the left field seats at a baseball game. There are four rows of seats, with five chairs set up in every row. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to the back of the seat with a number and letter on it. Ballpark organ music is heard in the background. As the play opens, all the seats are empty.)

(Charles Mansion enters carrying a long bag that baseball players carry bats in. He sits down in the middle seat in the second row, unzips his bag, and pulls out a laptop computer. He sets it on his lap, takes the newspaper's sports section out of his bag, and reads quietly. After ten seconds, he sets the paper down and begins typing.)

CHARLES Let me check these calculations for the hundredth time. This morning for breakfast, Big Mac-Maniac ate two live squirrels, a quart of Florida gator blood, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At game time the wind will be blowing out to left field at fourteen miles per hour, but it will drop to ten miles per hour by the fourth inning. (He types furiously.) Steve Trachsel is pitching for the Cubs. He has a ninety-plus fastball in the early innings, dropping off to eighty-eight miles per hour by the fourth inning. Factor in "The faster they come in, the faster they go out." Factor in MacManiac's bat speed, a high dose of adrenaline, and one factor of "Youneverknow." Hit return. (He leans back in his seat and smiles as music plays in the background.)

(Emily Delicateson walks in carrying a notebook and a pen. She sits in the front row, in the seat directly in front of Charles.)

VOICE 1 (From offstage) Beer. Ice-cold beer! Beer. Ice-cold beer!

EMILY (She raises her eyebrows, taps her index finger on her chin, thinking, as the voice yells. She begins writing in her notebook.)

(Poem 207)

I taste a liquor never brewed -
From Tankards scooped in Pearl -
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!

CRAZY HOSS (Crazy Hoss enters and sits down next to Emily. He carries a saddlebag over his right shoulder.) Evening ma'am. (He looks her over carefully as he sets the saddlebag down.) You look like the only person in the stadium not hoping to catch Big MacManiac's seventy-first home run. (He takes off his hat and swoops it through the air.) I brought my biggest hat to help my chances. With this baby, I've got high hopes.

EMILY (She closes her eyes for a second, opens them, and writes in her notebook.)

(Poem 314)

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

CHARLES (He sits up abruptly, staring at his computer.) This can't be. (He types furiously.) It could be . . . (He types furiously.) It might be . . . (He types furiously.) It is! Before I bought the tickets, I forget to consider one factor of "Youneverknow." (He puts the laptop on the chair next to him. He looks at his seat number and then walks through the row he is sitting in and the row behind him and checks every letter and number on the chairs carefully. He screams out in anguish. Emily and Crazy Hoss turn around and look at him. His face is twisted in agony.)

EMILY (She stands up and watches Charles closely as his face shows great distress. Then she sits down and writes in her notebook.)

(poem 339)

I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it's true -
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe -

The Eyes glaze once - and that is
Death -
Impossible to feign
The Beads upon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

CRAZY HOSS Are you upset because your friends didn't show up? I hate to intrude, but it's impossible not to notice that every seat in the stadium is taken except for the ones around you.

CHARLES I bought tickets for all these seats to increase my chances of catching Big MacManiac's seventy-first home run ball. Once I have it, I'll be rich and famous, instead of poor and notorious.

CRAZY HOSS Me, too. Famous that is. I want everyone to know my name. I'm a middle child. Adam's the responsible one, so Pa listens to what he says, and my youngest brother, Little Joe, well, he gets all the attention, and me, I'm just Crazy Hoss. With all due respect, I'm going to catch Big MacManiac's seventy-first homer, and then everyone will know my name.

EMILY (She begins to write furiously in her notebook.)

(Poem 260)

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! They'd advertise - you

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell your name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

CHARLES Well, good luck on catching the ball. I know Big MacManiac will kill one–excuse the expression–tonight. I'm Charles Mansion. (He extends his hand to Crazy Hoss.)

CRAZY HOSS (He stands up and shakes Charles Mansion's hand vigorously.) I appreciate a good sport. Pleased to meet you, Charles. (Charles peers around Crazy Hoss in order to get a good look at his seat number.)

CHARLES And your name, ma'am? (Emily stands up shyly, not making eye contact with Mansion. She does not shake hands, but writes in her notebook as Charles peers down to see her seat number. She holds the notebook up so he can see what she has written.)

CHARLES (Reading from the notebook that is still in Emily's hands.) Emily Delicateson. Nice to meet you, Emily.

CRAZY HOSS She's writing something so important that she doesn't care about Big MacManiac and his record-breaking home run.

EMILY (She looks at Crazy Hoss, folds her hands as if in prayer, and closes her eyes. When she opens her eyes, she writes quickly in her notebook.)

(Poem 519)

This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me -

CHARLES What a fine crew we have here tonight. You are like my family. How about I buy us all refreshments. I buy and you two fly. Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to get them and return before Big MacManiac comes up to bat.

CRAZY HOSS I can get them.

CHARLES Buy as much as you want.

CRAZY HOSS I'll need some help then. (He smiles at Emily. She blushes shyly as Hoss holds out his right arm and helps her stand up. Crazy Hoss and Emily exit.)

CHARLES If Big MacManiac hits his home run in the fifth inning or later, then I'm all set. It'll reach my seats. (He smiles, reaches into his bag, pulls out a bloodied baseball glove, and moves to different seats he has reserved and practices making some imaginary catches.) But factoring in "Youneverknow," then if he connects in one of the first four innings, it's going to land in seat A7 (He points at Emily's seat.), or seat A8 (He points at Crazy Hoss's seat. He frowns and paces back and forth down the empty aisle. He reaches into his bag and takes out two pieces of cardboard, a paintbrush, and a little can of blue paint. He paints "WET PAINT" on each piece of cardboard and props one sign up in Emily's seat and the other sign up in Crazy Hoss's seat. He stands behind their seats and leans over and catches an imaginary ball with his glove. He jumps up and down and holds the imaginary ball up above his head. He starts to put the paint back in his bag, but then he pauses.) That won't do. I've got to be sure. (He turns the sign over, pulls a jar out of his bag, grabs a different brush, and dips it into the pocket of his baseball glove. He writes on the backside of the sign: BEWARE! FRESH HUMAN BLOOD! He sets the sign on Emily's seat so his new message is visible. Satisfied, he paints the back of the second sign with the same message and places it on Crazy Hoss's seat. He quickly puts his materials in the bag, makes one more imaginary catch of a seventy-first home run while leaning over Emily's and Crazy Hoss's seats, and then sits down in the seat directly behind Crazy Hoss's.) I'm going to be rich. (He reaches under his trench coat and pulls out the book Warren Buffet Speaks.) Warren Buffet Speaks. Speak to me, Warren, one millionaire to another. How should I invest the million I get for selling Big MacManiac's seventy-first dinger? Interesting, Warren has a little sign on his wall that reads "A fool and his money are soon invited everywhere." (He leans over and punches a few keys on his laptop.) I'd better check my e-mail. No messages yet. Oh well, I'm not officially rich yet. (He picks up the Buffet book again.) "You don't need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with a 130." (He nods his head, smiles, sets the book down in the chair behind Emily's and holds up his ticket.) Ten-dollar ticket. (He makes an imaginary catch and holds the glove above his head as if he is displaying the ball.) Million-dollar ball.

(Crazy Hoss and Emily enter. Emily goes right to her seat, while Crazy Hoss stands in Charles's aisle as he talks. Emily has a big pop stain and some sprinkles of blood on her dress, but she is still holding her notebook and pen. Hoss is splattered heavily with blood. Blood drips off his right hand.)

CRAZY HOSS Thanks for the offer of refreshments, little buddy, but I'll tell you what, things are crazy out there. Everyone is trying to get their fill before Big MacManiac bats. Then I bumped into a guy, and he got pissed, so he threw his pop at me, but it splashed on poor Emily instead of me. (Emily leans over, picks up the Buffet book, and looks at it for a moment. She eyes the sign in her seat and remains standing, but closes her eyes as if in deep thought.) So I punched him in the nose, and as you can see, he was a bleeder. At least most of the blood missed Emily and her pretty white dress. (Hoss grimaces and holds his stomach as he walks to his seat.) The whole thing just ruined my appetite. I– (Crazy Hoss stops when he sees the blood and the sign on his seat.) Wow, I guess that little incident was a lucky break. Emily and I are already bloody, and it's human blood. (He removes the signs from their seats and sits down.)

EMILY (She opens her eyes, sets the book down on the seat behind her, sits down, and begins to write furiously in her notebook.)

(Poem 1286)

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry -

This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll -
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human Soul -

CHARLES (He reaches into his duffel bag and pulls out a snake. The sound of a rattlesnake is heard in the background as Charles reaches over and drops it on Crazy Hossıs boot.) Thatıs ball four. That means Big MacManiac will probably bat this‹ (Emily sees the snake and screams.)

CRAZY HOSS Rattler! Iıve dealt with a few of your kind on the Ponderosa. (Crazy Hoss stomps his boots on the snake. Miss Emily watches, with her hand on her chest, hyperventilating.) There, there Missy Emily. That snake ainıt going to ever move again, any more than that guy that spilled the pop on you. Although the way you screamed, I thought he was back with another cup full.

EMILY (She leans back in her seat, still gasping for breath, but itıs coming easier for her now. She fans herself briskly with her notebook‹stops suddenly‹calm now, and looks down at the dead snake for a moment, and then writes in her notebook.)

(Poem 1096)

A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides -
You may have met him? did you not
His notice instant is -

(Emily stops writing and applauds along with Crazy Hoss and Charles.)

CHARLES All right, now if Lankford doesnıt hit into a double play, Big MacManiac will be coming up. EMILY (She stops clapping, crouches down for a close look at the snake, and writes in her notebook again.) (Poem 1096) But never met this Fellow Attended or alone Without a tighter Breathing And Zero at the Bone. CRAZY HOSS Letıs get ready. (He takes off his five-gallon hat and crouches a bit. He takes a gun out of his holster, throws it up into the air, and catches it in his hat.) Iım ready. (He puts the gun back in his holster.) (Charles Mansion pulls a bat out of his bag and lifts it up high above his head. Just as Charles is about to hit Crazy Hoss, Crazy Hoss turns around, grabs the bat easily with one hand, and jerks it out of Charlesıs hands.) CRAZY HOSS No, little buddy, youıve got Big MacManiacıs batting stance all wrong. He doesnıt hold the bat that high. He keeps his hands close to his body, like this. (Crazy Hoss crouches a bit, holds the bat with his hands close to his body, imitating the batting stance of Big MacManiac.) See. Watch when he bats. Youıll see! Iım a dead ringer for Big MacManiac. CHARLES (Charles pulls his hair in frustration.) All in vain! All my efforts, my dreams, my fame! In vain, first because of Bugliosi, and now because of this lumbering dumb ox! EMILY (Her eyes wide, she begins writing quickly in her notebook.) (Poem 982) If I can stop one Heart from breaking I shall not live in vain If I can ease one Life the Aching Or cool one Pain Or help one fainting Robin Unto his Nest again I shall not live in Vain. CRAZY HOSS Emily, you say some of the sweetest things. (As Crazy Hoss talks, Charles takes an axe out of his bag and struggles to lift it up above his head.) Why, if it wasnıt for the fact that every time a Cartwright falls in love, some terrible thing happens to the sweet damsel, Iıd fall in love with you. But because of the Cartwright Curse, I must let you fly free, like a bird over the Ponderosa. (Emily smiles shyly and fans herself with her notebook.) CHARLES (He finally gets the axe up above his head.) Die you big son of a bitch! (As he gets ready to swing, the weight of the axe causes Charles to fall over backwards.) Ohhhhhhhhhh! (Charles can be heard groaning and moaning in pain as he lies in the aisle.) CRAZY HOSS Hey, little buddy, what happened? Are you okay? Olı Crazy Hoss will help you up. (He leans overs and pulls Charles up. He is bleeding profusely from his leg where he cut himself with the axe when he fell.) Big MacManiac is making his way to the plate. Man that guy is huge! Have you ever seen a guy that big? (Cameras flash as Big MacManiac steps up to the plate. The crowd is heard cheering loudly.) CHARLES (He looks at Crazy Hoss with an incredulous look of disbelief. He reaches into his bag, pulls out a tomahawk, and jumps on Crazy Hoss.) Die you big son of a bitch! That baseball is going to be mine! (The crowd noise is still heard as Emily stands up and puts her notebook under her arm. She claps softly for Big MacManiac, with tiny claps, clapping more with her fingers than the palms of her hands. She turns and watches Crazy Hoss and Charles wrestle in the aisle. Crazy Hoss takes out one of his guns and fires it. The two men continue to struggle on the floor.) VOICE 2 (A fan is heard yelling from offstage.) Come on Big MacManiac. Relax. Stay calm and just meet the ball. EMILY (She ponders pensively what she just heard and then looks at Charles and Crazy Hoss fighting. Her eyes get wide and her mouth opens in a moment of revelation. She sits down and begins writing in her notebook.) (Poem 138) To fight aloud, is very brave - But gallanter, I know. Who charge within the bosom The cavalry of Wo - CRAZY HOSS (Still wrestling on the ground with Charles.) I canıt die. I can only get wounded, and then Pa, Adam, and Little Joe will come looking for me, and when they find me, you will get shot and killed. CHARLES Die you big son of a bitch. (He makes one last gallant effort with his tomahawk. Gunfire is heard, and then the loud CRACK of the bat as Big MacManiac connects. The crowd roars. A baseball lands between Crazy Hoss and Charles as they wrestle.) CRAZY HOSS Big MacManiacıs seventy-first home run. Itıs mine. I gotta get my hat off to scoop it up. No more living at home with Pa, Adam, and Little Joe. Iıll catch the ball, sell it, and build my own house and have my own spread. CHARLES Let go of my ball. (The sounds of the men struggling and gunfire are heard again. Both men fall back, wounded severely. Blood is everywhere, and both men are near death. The now bloody seventy-first home run ball is between them.) EMILY (She claps softly, with her tiny finger claps. After a moment she turns around and starts to leave. She pauses for a moment, listens to the agonized sounds of Crazy Hoss and Charles Mansion. She sees the baseball and bends over and picks it up. The cheering of the crowd in reaction to Big MacManiacıs home run can still be heard in the background. Suddenly Emilyıs eyes get wide and she sits down in excitement, in the same aisle where Charles and Crazy Hoss have fallen. She places the ball on the seat next to her and opens up her notebook. She turns and takes one last look at Crazy Hoss and Charles and begins writing, but her pen is out of ink. She shakes it up and down and tries writing again, but it still does not work. She sticks her finger into her mouth and wets the end of the pen, but when she presses it to the notebook, it still does not write. She shakes the pen some more and then eyes the ball on the seat next to her. She dips the pen in the blood on the ball, smiles, nods her head in satisfaction, and begins to write.) (Poem 112) Success is counted sweetest By those who neıer succeed. To comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need. Not one of all the purple Host Who took the Flag today (After this line she holds up the ball, smiles, and then continues writing.) Can tell the definition So clear of Victory As he defeated - dying - On whose forbidden ear The distant strains of triumph Burst agonized and clear! (Emily picks up the ball and exits with it, her pen, and her notebook. For a moment after she leaves, Crazy Hoss and Charles can be heard gasping for breath and moaning, and then all becomes quiet. A moment later the stage goes dark.) ‹EFQ Emily Dickinson wrote all the poems used in this play. Dickinsonıs poems are used by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Copyright 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

LARRY FANGMAN has always felt Emily Dickinson would have loved baseball, and Hoss Cartwright would have made a great cleanup hitter. Larry will finish his baseball mystery, The Cupid Killer, this summer.

© 2000 Larry Fangman


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