Baseball: A Look at Opening Day in the Future
The teacher began with Dodger Stadium, where fans were sheltered through radiation-resistant above-ground tunnels running in two directions to the only rail system in Echo Park, the first habitable Los Angeles neighborhood since 2060 when the city was first destroyed. Shuttle buses, more a fleet of refurbished army transports from Hawthorne Army Depot Base in Nevada, brought the crowd onto the trains and into the tunnels, already nicknamed Don Sutton Way and Jackie Robinson Way, where they eagerly strolled into the ballpark. Unfortunately, tiny balloons lettered with “We’re Back” were released for the first pitch, surrounding the five thousand people still eagerly strolling through the tunnels as well as the nearly one thousand overwhelming the toilet facilities at Echo Park Number One station. There was patient mayhem, Hedda said archly, but that overflow crowd for the Dodgers-Giants contest was actually the smallest other than Yankee Stadium, where the fears of the curse still lingered.
All fifteen games were sell-outs, not a familiar concept in The Family where if you wanted something (baseball seats) and worked for it (this was Thursday when bi-weekly Lifecards were refilled with salaries) you were supposed to be able to get it. Nearly eighty thousand fans circled Comiskey Park in Chicago, unable to get inside and forced to listen to the game on the rad in what was now called Extra Dugouts, makeshift homes sprouting up around the park as well as in Pittsburgh and Boston, with precarious prefabricated homes appearing out of a 2071 time warp when the Allah invasion seemed inevitable and all of America would be forced into mobile rebellion.
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Everyone was overwhelmed by the first real Opening Day since 2065, Hedda said brightly, congratulating Elias on collapsing the nation’s traffic infrastructure. Cincinnati was the first city to report that massive traffic jams had stopped all cars from entering the city. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia soon followed. Quickly all means of public transportation, including the poor Echo Park Number One station, imploded. Bleary-eyed yet forever smiling Blue Shirts directed traffic from car roofs. ’Bots jumped out from their buses or trains, quickly drawing signs on the tops of the cars pointing siblings in the right direction. But there was no right direction. There was just a massive swarm of happy people trying to go to a baseball game in temperatures that averaged just above forty degrees almost uniformly across the country.
It snowed in Kansas City, hailed in San Francisco, and the roof in Milwaukee barely survived the high winds, but nothing short of all-out World War Four could’ve stopped 2099 Opening Day. Probably not even that, Hedda added proudly. A large, pristine white baseball which would’ve been found in Heaven, if anyone believed in such a concept, sat on an elevated home plate at all the stadiums for the united national ceremony; the games all began at 1 PM, Bronx time. Neatly stacked baseball bats stood as if waiting for an incantation. From the vibrant green outfields, siblings hurried toward the baseball, forming a sloppily excited line. Her voice rising, Hedda said people claimed they could actually smell the food, so real were the hot dogs and popcorn and tacos paraded by vendors in gay outfits in the massive mural.
The painter Barbara Sue Bloom was a leader of the old HAA movement, Holograms Ain’t Art, and often was seen on the vid scolding lazy artists for relying on technology instead of skill. Each figure seemed in mid-sentence, their inanimate whispers and shouts brimming with excitement as they walked through the magic baseball where, on the other side, two little girls in perfect pigtails with purple bows stumbled out the other side, laughing and squealing on the extraordinary grass as an umpire extended his hands in a safe call. Hedda gushed over all fifteen of the final scores; Elias was certain she got most of them wrong. “Ty threw out the first pitch in Detroit and Mickey did at Yankee Stadium,” Hedda concluded, slightly exhausted.
This look into the future of opening day is an excerpt from A Fastball for Freedom. The book is written by Gary Morgenstein.
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