Nine innings in Baltimore: The Top of the First

Basilio Gets Sober

August 27, 1990

Agitated, so angry his skin itched, Basilio left the house on foot.a little after 7 p.m. He’d skipped dinner and was looking for reefer. If not that, booze and trouble.


Uptown, the Orioles were getting ready to play the Yankees at Memorial Stadium. Not that Basilio knew or cared. An artist since the third grade who worked as a sign painter to pay his bills, he hadn’t given a shit about baseball – or much of anything – for a long, long time.

Not since Trudy left, Grandpop died and Nieves disappeared.

Once, he could have told you facts and stories about every Oriole from the owner to the groundskeeper. One night, instead of doing his homework, he looked up the names of every player and coach in the phone book, getting a hit when Mrs. George Bamberger, wife of the longtime pitching coach, answered the phone.

“I think George should tell Earl to use Moe more,” he blurted into the phone and Mrs. Bamberger said she would pass the tip along. After the third call in a week, the nice lady politely asked that he not bother them anymore.

Tonight, before banging the receiver against the wall, Basilio had been on the phone for more than 40 minutes, dialing numbers instead of rolling them. None of his guy friends had reefer. And none of the women currently orbiting Macon Street were answering.

On 33rd Street, Big Ben McDonald was on the mound for the Birds. You didn’t need to be reading the sports page to know that the Yankees were cocksuckers and always would be.


    – to be continued – 


(Feature photo by Macon Street Books)