Old Uncle Ebenezer felt a shiver. The final out in the World Series had been recorded, and he felt as though the temperature in his little apartment had suddenly dropped by ten degrees. He pulled his aching bones out of his lumpy easy chair and hobbled to the wall thermostat to turn it up a few notches. The arthritis in his fingers made it difficult and Ebenezer decided that he would not wait until an hour before bedtime. He moved toward the kitchen, where his bottle of Jameson Triple Distilled rested in the cabinet above the sink. With slightly shaking hands he poured himself a double.
The television was still on in the living room when Ebenezer awoke from his slumber and he muttered something possibly profane but clearly unintelligible as he switched it off and made his way to the bedroom and buried himself under the sheet and blanket while fumbling for his pillow. He could hear the wind howling and his neighbor’s dog barking but it wasn’t long before he was fast asleep.
The night was as dark as the night had ever been. The wind had brought rain and the steady beating of water on the roof and against the glass helped Ebenezer drop into a deep sleep. After an hour and three quarters, however, the call of nature roused the old man from his rest and he rose to make his way to the toilet. He was surprised to see that the light in the bathroom was on. Ebenezer liked his nightlight in the bath and was too frugal to deliberately leave the overhead light burning. He was a bit groggy from the whiskey but , after relieving himself, he felt suddenly alert. Then, his eyes opened wide in amazement. There was a form, somewhat shaped like a human, sitting in his easy chair. Without his spectacles Uncle Ebenezer was not certain what he was witnessing and he was rendered speechless for a few moments before shouting, “Hey!. You there! What the hell are you doing in my living room?”
The shape responded by quickly taking the form of a gaseous cloud and rising up to the ceiling. To Ebenezer’s astonishment, the cloud had a voice and spoke! “Do not be afraid, old dude. This is not an apparition. Well,it is, but I’m real. My name is Doubleday. I have been monitoring your stress level and, if you agree to my conditions, we can help your condition.”
My uncle was aghast. “What condition? How do you know anything about me?”
Doubleday spoke again. “You are not my only client. There are many bereft souls out there. So let’s cut to the chase. The goal is to work for the good of the game. If you adhere to that I can grant you temporary powers to achieve what both of us, many of us, want”
Ebenezer was no longer groggy. In fact, he made his mind up quickly. “Okay, how about this. Make me the executive officer for the MLB Players’ Association.”
The next thing Ebenezer knew, he was traveling all over the country and visiting every major league clubhouse. He went from player to player carrying a cardboard box. Into the box each player dropped gold chains and necklaces and other useless jewelry. These were all taken by Ebenezer and exchanged for tickets to MLB regular season games and the tickets were given away in each franchise location to young boys and girls who could not otherwise ever afford to attend a game. Then, just as suddenly, Ebenezer was back in his apartment. Doubleday was there, too, in the form of a floor lamp.
“Good job, old dude. So you get another wish.” Ebenezer did not hesitate. “Make me the commissioner of baseball!” he pleaded. In the blink of an eye Ebenezer was sitting at a large desk in a New York office. He was speaking informally to a group of sports reporters. “Today I have taken three bold steps to improve both the image and the reality of our game. First, by executive decree, we will be banning all cell phones and other mobile electronic devices from all of our ballparks while games are being played. Second, we are repealing the designated hitter rule forever. Last, from now on, all player salaries will be determined by where their teams fall in the standings.”
Before you could say Stan Musial, Ebenezer was back home again. Doubleday was there to greet him. “Well done, dude. So you get one last wish and then I have to split.” My uncle did not hesitate. “I want to be president of the United States!”
In the oval office, Ebenezer was holding a press conference. With him were Mike Trout, Madison Bumgarner, and David Wright. “Today, my fellow Americans, we are proud to announce that we have directed the FCC to establish commercial free television of all MLB games henceforth.”
And then he woke up.