HARAKIRI *

Before the Athletics moved to Kansas City when I was eleven, we were a St. Louis Cardinals family, listening on muggy summer nights, fireflies flitting in the backyard, to Harry Caray’s excited, untethered voice paint a vivid picture of the exploits of Slaughter, Schoendienst, and Musial. I imagined him red-faced and wild-eyed in walk-off victory or an underserved “L” from a muffed grounder or a hanging slider. A fidgety kid with a temper, I never could win the quarter my father offered if I would sit still for five minutes. At the dinner table, if I got over excited, raised my voice, for reasons I can no longer remember, my mother would say in her patient, pleasant voice, “Calm down, don’t commit Harry Caray.” The war was not a distant memory to her, but what did I know of ritual suicide and homonyms? I quieted down, cleaned my plate, helped clear the table, and rushed off to my room to hear on my small red transistor radio the only Harry Caray I knew holler bloody murder when the ump got it wrong.