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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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Family fans  Only pregnant twin Dianne misses the big game against the ‘Gators …

Ernest Lawrence Thayer told most of Barry’s story way back on June 3, 1888.

How does a poem from 127 years ago – almost to the day! – fill us in on your youngest brother’s college years? wonders Screen Four.

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

“Perhaps a poem doesn’t tell it all,” I admit. “Let’s add some commentary.”

Eldest brother Mike puts the word out weeks in advance. “Barry’s college – Florida State University – has a huge baseball game coming. His ‘Seminoles’ play arch-rival University of Florida.”

The ’Gators, growls Three in theatrical disdain.

Mike continues. “This is Bar’s senior year. The end of his college baseball. We haven’t had the chance to see him as catcher. It’s time for all of us to get together. Let’s do this. Let’s be there for him.”

The Blackwell blood, exults Six, runs thick. Strong. Tight.

We fly in from distant points to encourage the last-born, who is humble in response but thrilled to have us present. Sleep proves elusive for five hearts anticipating the next day’s contest, and we arrive at the stadium early. The battle between giants begins.

Far below us, says Four, describing the beautiful field, in the midst of a red-earth diamond, your brother does his best to keep the Seminoles’ hopes alive.

Catcher BarryAs catcher, Barry’s thick wrists and tree-trunk forearms –

Borrowed directly from your dad! exclaims Five.

– lend themselves flawlessly, tossing out runners at second as if Barron were simply skipping rocks ’cross rivers, not stopping stolen bases.

But one can only contain a rival so long defensively, admits Six. With the ’Gators galloping ahead, Florida State will have to produce some big bats.

Screen Two is confused. Galloping’gators? Big bats? Are we at the zoo?

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

Barry strolls toward home plate amid a roar that consumes time and space. Skies stay blue but stadium shakes as feet pound, fists pump, cheers rise.

This crowd expects great things of your brother, observes One. His few letters have been humbler than we knew.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Place is packed, laughs Screen Six in amazement. Adds Three, The only empty seats are in the men’s room.

Batter Barry“Bases loaded,” I whisper to myself, swapping lightning glances with excited brothers as a strike flies past an unfazed Barry. All spectators’ eyes focused on the daylong duel between batter and pitcher, I scan the stadium’s visitors, watch their response to the batter.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

They knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again….

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Barry’s bat, seemingly a crafted version of smaller trees I logged in Washington State, whips forward with immeasurable force. The crash of ball against bat creates a crack that thundersmacks our ears. Misshapen sphere flashes bright white in searing sun, then disappears in upper stands and reaching hands.

Feet jog base path, leading the Barron home to raucous teammates and Coach Martin. Our brother looks up just before he steps into the winning dugout. Unsure of where his family is, tucked in the sea of faces as we are, Barry – ever the sportsman – smiles genuinely, kindly, then disappears, strong shoulders carrying the admiration of fans and unabashed love of family.


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Postscript: “In a slightly different way, guys, I’m kind of, sort of, pretty close to the same type of champion Barry is.”

Do tell, urges Screen Five, intrigued.

“In first grade, we have a contest every Friday for the class pet. The drawings determine who will get to taker her – Snowflake, the guinea pig – home over the weekend.”

How does that make you a champion like the Barron? asks Four.

“I never lose.”

Black, beams Six, heroic Barry’s got nothing on you.

To give other students a chance, remembers One painfully, your teacher three times declares you ineligible.

“I forgive Miss Marlewicz. I understand.”

Nobility overfloweth, sighs Two.

“And I win the final drawing, anyway.”

Murmurs Three, Snowflake will live with you forever. Wow! Is that a surprise?

“Only to my mom.”

* * * * *

Needed this at Barron’s game!

But I’d like one of these even more!