I've been meaning to post this for more than a month. Emily Green, whose recent writing you probably know more on water issues and SoCal gardens, contributed a really nice first-person piece in the LA Weekly on what she thought was a historic baseball she found laying in a park in Altadena. She is, it turns out, an aficianado of found baseballs. "Most of the balls I pick up have some kind of initials on them," Green writes. "Occasionally a kid will even have scrawled a message. Jake's ball! Sorry, Jake. I collect baseballs. You lost it, I found it."
Days when I find lost baseballs never fail to feel mildly enchanted, as if hot dogs and beer are waiting at home. Found balls are dropped in a bowl on the back porch where, if I could paint, I would paint them just as lovingly as Cézanne painted apples and oranges....
When I thought that the balls might be real, a working fantasy involved a kid — let's call him Jake, too — who had raided his father's trophy case and had taken the balls to the park to play with his friends. It's the kind of thing I would have done.
Once the balls were deemed fake, though, the imaginary storyline centered on a forger who worked at a basement bench under a dangling bulb. After carefully sanding the leather, he flipped down magnifiers over his spectacles and carefully began applying ink. Beside him lay a sheet on which he'd practiced hundreds of Gehrig signatures, and hundreds more of Willises.