Those who play baseball are, in my opinion, in some ways special persons. Baseball isn't just any sport, it doesn't just form real athletes. Baseball forms particular men. Like Giovanni Tommasini. A baseball player and today a writer. He passed through that field with a particular shape called a diamond. The green grass, the red dirt; put on a helmet, hold the bat and you are about to enter the batter's box. You against everybody: on that little hill is the pitcher ready to challenge you; all around him, his teammates are ready to eliminate you if the pitcher fails to do so.
Giovanni Tommasini lived it on his skin, he experienced what it means to slide on that red dirt to get to the base before the opponent's defenders could get you out.
An email, a phone call, and I met Giovanni. After exchanging a word or two I immediately understood how much baseball is still part of his life. Then, when I read Tomato, his first story, I realized how special this Ligurian author is. All the beauty and magic of this sport can be found in his writings, getting inspiration from the birth of the team in the city of Sanremo up to the fabulous story of Alex Liddi. The first real professional Italian Major League player. From Sanremo.
Tommasini’s are not just ordinary stories. With his quotes from great writers, composers and poets, he can make baseball a lesson of life. Baseball not only as a team sport, but like a real gym of life. In every position, from pitcher to catcher, from shortstop to the outfield, this sport has something to give.
Tommasini writes about the pitcher in Nine Spearheads: “The trajectory requested by the catcher, a dock for the hitter; the bat meeting the pitched ball, the dreamed land on the new world.
Heroes. We can be heroes, just for one day and forever”.
From there the decision to publish on my website Baseballmania, because I believed right away what Giovanni was proposing me. No one in Italy ever wrote about the baseball the way he did. From the first stories, to those Giovanni wrote later on, something was born also from our exchange of ideas, like the fantastic tale about the life of Agostino Liddi. The origin of Alex Liddi.
Then everything happened in a short time, because Tommasini’s tales fly fast, like the 90 miles fastball of a Major League pitcher. Up to this book which collects, like a single theme, all the tales of this great Ligurian writer. The first great baseball writer in Italy.
Those who played baseball are special persons.
When you will get to the end of this book, you will understand why.
MARCELLO AND FULVIO
They were there with us and a common project: to create a baseball team, the best in Liguria.
The fact that for the moment there weren't any others, gave them the confidence that only the great ideals can guarantee.
Two opposite personalities. They perfectly supplement each other.
They wanted the same thing, but approach it from to different starting points. It was their personal relationship with reality that was different.
One, Marcello, of the “whole” would treat every single part. The other, Fulvio, would take all these parts and arrange them on the diamond, to make us live a fantastic assembly, which would guarantee the “whole”.
Those parts were the fundamentals.
The “whole” was the game strategy.
They didn’t choose to split roles, it was just their deep need.
Two different approaches to life.
It was an answer to the Absence. The most ancient, eternal, started with the landing from the perfect and filled prenatal world.
How to approach it?
Two means, two possibilities, two different ways.
Attempting the impossible task that would leave every time angry and disappointed, and try to fill that void.
That was what Fulvio attempted to do.
Otherwise accepting it, this irresolvable absence. Taking the victory of reality over ideal project for granted, revolving around the void like a satellite, in a continuos search for the perfect gesture. Day after day, practice after practice, throw after throw, catch after catch, reckoning the Absence, he handled the details, because for him life was to practice on suffering, not a game against misery.
Marcello chose to handle the fundamentals, the detail. He was that way.
Skinny, sharp, essential… he was not bullshitting us.
He wanted to make us unique, let us feel the trust he had for each one of us: each one could give the best of ourself, express our authenticity. He was a champion. Even better, he was out of the competition: he was out of the winners and losers logic.
For him baseball was an art.
Ray: Does heaven exist?
John: Sure. Is the place where dreams come true!
THE DREAM TEAM
(in order of appearance)
1 – Dante Alighieri (Pitcher, the hand of God)
2 – Walt Whitman (Catcher-Captain, o my captain!)
3 – Italo Calvino (First Baseman)
4 – Antonio Salieri (Second Baseman)
5 – William Shakespeare (Shortstop)
6 – Joseph Conrad (Third Baseman)
7 – Charles Bukowski (Outfielder First Baseman)
8 – John Fante (Center fielder)
9 – David Bowie (Outfielder Third Baseman)
The wise on the bench: Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel de Cervantes.
Coach: Giovanni Tommasini
President: Giacomo Leopardi
O Captain, my Captain, rise up and hear the bells.
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
You feel observed. Unique defensive position. “O Captain…”.
Whole with the pitcher, his responsibility is to choose the tone of the music sheet. Like a head of state, before the match he receives all the information about each aspect of the opponents, so he can give the right signals for each batter, to the pitcher, his arm. Pitch inside, outside, slow, curve, walk him.
Arm and brain. A true relationship.
Here, Amerigo thought, those two, as they are, are mutually necessary. And he thought: here, this way of being is love. And then: the human goes as far as love goes; he doesn’t have boundaries but those we give.
You don’t choose who plays catcher. It’s the home plate attracting him. The moon for the earth. The mask, the chest protector, the shin guards take shape on him to become a soft shell. A true Agilulfo Emo Bertrandin of Guildivern. Our non existing knight has all the cards of the deck to play on his diamond. In his armor, crouched, we don’t see him: we have him with us, like the North Star for the compass.
A coat-of-arms between two edges of a large draped mantle, and inside the coat-of-arm opened two more edges of a mantle with a smaller coat-of-arm in the middle, [...] and in the middle there had to be who knows what, but it could not be seen.
Last game of the season. Our catcher with a “broken” arm. He has only one throw to stop the runner from stealing second base. He uses it in the pregame, a cannon shot everybody sees.
That day nobody stole second.
A catcher. A captain.
“Captain, my captain, rise up and hear the bells...”