Naperville Awards

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An Iowa Farmhouse: By Joe Scherrman

In an Iowa farmhouse, nine men are suiting up. Assessing each other, they tuck in their baseball jerseys and adjust their short-brimmed caps. Soon, two pickup trucks will take them to a not-so-obscure cornfield, where they will line up and feel their way through 150 feet of narrow cornrow. Then, each man will make his appearance on a sun-bathed ball field that is more grounded in fiction than in professional baseball.

It's a beautiful day for baseball, and hundreds of people await the players. A young girl with an oversized glove throws soft pitches with her father. Visiting Japanese students happily snap enough photos to fill several albums. Picnic baskets are readied by eager spectators, perched in bleachers, folding chairs and lying on the blankets that all-but-cover the grassy baselines.

Amazingly, the fans expect no game today. They have no favorites; no team is vying for any title. The action on the field will be baseball tomfoolery between kids and the players.

The men coming through the corn have always been ballplayers. All have played in the semi-pros; some have made it to the majors and one is college baseball coach, each one having played more games than he can count. Today, however, these stars wearing 1918 uniforms are going through the motions for the joy of pretense, as much in deference to a Hollywood fantasy as the game that's almost as old as the country itself.

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