Back in Brooklyn, NY, in the late ‘70s, an amazing sequence of events occurred that could NEVER be replicated. Not by any human being, not by some robots, not in a scientific testing environment…especially the very last part of this incredible event!
And since there were no witnesses (other than yours truly) to this entire series of amazing coincidences, you’ll need to trust me on this.
First off, I have no reason whatsoever to make this stuff up. After ~40 years, it’s brought me neither fame nor fortune. I have both my lack of noterity, as well as my sickly bank account, as solid evidence.
Secondly, if there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s that I’m “brutally honest”. Neither bragging about it nor ashamed of it, it is what it is. In fact, I can’t even spell “fillter” korectlee!
Well here goes…
My buddy, Roger, and I were warming up, off on the sidelines, before our scheduled softball game with our team, the Sabres. We played in the Ave P League & the field was the typical playground one you’ll find in the concrete jungle…an ashphalt-top diamond with short outfield fences, dropped in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
It was surrounded by a large, 12-ft high chain-link, bordered by Avenue P, East 14th St, East 15th St & a couple of houses. The one entrance to the park (on East 14th St) was guarded by a wrought-iron gate.
The park’s entrance was padlocked shut after dark by the NYC Parks Department. But then again, this was Brooklyn & that fact alone would play a major role in this story…as you’ll see later.
Now that the stage is set, let’s go!
We were just casually playing catch, warming up for our upcoming game. Roger was our pitcher & as this was a “modified fast-pitch” league, he started tossing the ball underhanded to me.
Faster & faster.
As a normal testosterone-filled man (gorilla?), I had to, of course, match his underhanded throws with some of my own. The problem was that I had never really pitched in a real game so my control of exactly where the ball was headed was, somewhat, limited.
And with hormones raging, I unleashed the ball as fast as I possibly could.
And now, for the rest of the story…
This unguided missile was slightly high, a little over Roger’s head, so he instinctively stuck his glove up.
Improbability #1. The ball glanced off the very top of Roger’s glove & continued on its path, veering slightly to the right, heading toward some unoccupied wooden benches.
Improbability #2. The benches themselves sat parallel to the general flight of the ball.
It ricocheted off the very top corner of the back part of the bench & this time, veered slightly to the left (back to the original flight of the throw). The odds of this happening are really pretty remote. Had it hit any other part of the bench (except for that one tiny corner) or missed the bench completely, the ball would have fallen innocently to the ground.
But it didn’t! It now headed toward the high cyclone fence that separated the park from East 14th Street .
Improbability #3. Normally, the ball would have hit the cyclone fence & its journey would’ve been over.
But this park was located in Brooklyn, NY, remember?
Seems that the neighborhood kids had cut a large hole through the chain link fence so they could enter the park, even when it was closed & the entrance padlocked.
So now the ball’s headed toward the opening in the fence. Normally, it would have just gone through the hole & either onto the sidewalk or into the side of a parked car.
But as luck would have it, there was a cylindrical metal pole running horizontally across the hole. It was part of the bracketing that supports the fence itself & to which the chain link fencing is normally attached.
The ball hits this metal bar running across the hole at the absolutely-perfect angle & is propelled forward at a slightly-higher angle!
The fact that the fence had a hole created in it by the neighborhood kids in the first place & then that the ball would hit the supporting bar at exactly the perfect angle to shoot forward…the odds of that happening would be astronomical!
Add that to the fact that the ball had already tipped off the top of my buddy’s glove, then caromed off the corner of the back of a neatby bench, and you already have an unbelievable series of rare occurrences.
But it doesn’t end there!
Improbability #4. After deflecting off the bar in the hole in the fence, the ball hits the roof of a parked car on “this side” (the side closest to the park) of the street…again, at the perfect angle!…& crosses East 14th St in the air!
It still has yet to hit the ground!
Improbability #5. The ball crosses the street & lands on the hood of a car parked on the “other side” (further from the park), at (yet again) the perfect angle & pops up in the air.
For sure, its journey is over & it’ll just fall to the sidewalk.
Improbability #6. I’m completely amazed as I’m watching all of this unfolding right before my eyes!
It must be magic, I thought.
But little did I know.
Out of seemingly nowhere, from behind the parked car comes an Hasidic (Orthodox) Jew…black hat, long black coat, long curly sideburns…strolling down the block.
He was like a mirage!
The ball pops up into the air, he appears from behind the parked there (obscured by the car’s windows & roof) & while in full stride, he simply sticks out his left hand & catches the ball!!!
He doesn’t miss a beat. He doesn’t stop to catch it. He just lets it drop right into his hand while he’s walking down the block…and simply continues on!
He barely turned his head! As if it was a normal, run-of-the-mill occurrence, he just continues on his merry way down the block, toward Ave P, as if nothing happened!
I finally regain consciousness & start screaming for him to please return the ball.
He feebly tosses it underhand, rolling it across the street.
I am still stunned at what I had just witnessed right before my very eyes…but no one else saw it!
Roger was facing me & all he knew was that the ball tipped off his glove. In fact, I remember him saying, “Where are ya goin’?” as I exited the park through the main gate.
And no one else was watching as it didn’t happen in a game or anything…we were simply warming up on the sideline.
This had to be THE MOST IMPROBABLE SERIES OF EVENTS in the history of man!!! It could never be duplicated by man nor machine.
The randomness of an Hasidic Jew just walking down the block at exactly the right instant, at exactly the right spot, is impossible to fathom. And the fact that he actually caught the ball without breaking stride & by merely sticking his left hand out makes it even more miraculous!
And let’s not forget the trip the ball took to even get that far…deflecting off the very tip of Roger’s glove…caroming off the corner of the back of a bench…hitting the cross bar in the fence only made possible by neighborhood kids tearing a giant hole in the cyclone fence…bouncing off the roof of a parked car…crossing the street, then bouncing off the hood of another parked car…then bouncing up in the air!
And every time the ball encountered something, it would hit it at the exact, perfect angle that enabled it to keep/correct its course & still continue moving forward!
Ya know, when they say that “the truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction”, I can comfortably & honestly say, “Yep, that’s true!”
I sincerely hope you enjoyed my story from back in the day.
Thank you so much for your time.