Greetings, all, and I want you to know the time I’ve been away has been well spent, if not totally productive. I recently returned from Las Vegas, where I hadn’t been, I’d guess, since the time Evander Holyfield lost part of an ear, but won the fight. Not one of my favorite destinations in the first place, but to contaminate the process, I had no other way to get there but by air. The old stagecoach service has been dropped.
I swear to you, if there is one more way to make flying uncomfortable, somebody in the flying business will come up with it. This time it was Delta, and I’ve always had the feeling that Delta is a notch above the ordinary. It’s not just the time spent aloft, first you have to get to the airport and check in, which isn’t too bad at Hartsfield, if you stick to your old routine. Then comes the demeaning trip through security. I’m not accustomed to undressing in public, but because of some lunatic named Robert Reid (check that name), the shoes have to come off—and danged if I didn’t have a little hole in one of my sox. The seats in steerage have gotten smaller, or my posterior has broadened. And if you’re on an aisle seat, you get bumped by every passerby, which means the aisles must be narrower. Lunch is great, if you like peanuts or care to buy a cold sandwich made from some mysterious ingredients.
The cabbies at Vegas seem to be a convivial lot, or maybe I just got lucky. I’ve never stayed in a hotel as vast as the Bellagio, which appears to be as large as Lichtenstein. And busy. Wheels turning, dice rolling, cards a-clicking, yelps rising (of joy, I suppose), and dull, impassive expressions on the faces of dealers, these are the sights and sounds of the gambling parlors. And I’ll say this: one is never far from a place to bet. At least they haven’t found a way to invade the bathroom yet.
In Las Vegas, bedtime is at dawn and the tables begin to come alive about dusk. My line of work concerned major league baseball, and the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, and my major gamble was picking the right hallway that led to the meeting room—and it wasn’t easy. I should have brought along a ball of twine to mark my route. There were ten of us, seven incumbent Hall of Fame members and three others, delegated to pick from a list of ten candidates to be inducted, a sort of extra-inning chance for great players who had “slipped through the cracks,” as it was so unceremoniously phrased. The group with which our committee dealt with broke into the major leagues before 1943, and to tell the truth, I would have voted nearly everyone in, but we were limited to four.
By this time it has been announced that only Joe Gordon, the second baseman of Indians and Yankees, made it. Old stars like Wes Ferrell, Bucky Walters, Mickey Vernon, Allie Reynolds, Vern Stephens, Carl Mays and Sherry Magee missed, sorrowfully, forever. There won’t be another chance. Then I caught the plane home, and no need to go into more of that. This is a time to wish blessings upon you all…so let’s just say that if you have no reason to fly anywhere this holiday season, add that to your list of blessings!