Two weeks later a letter arrived, addressed in southpaw handwriting with a Dodger logo in the corner. Dear Don, it said in the writing that leaned toward left field. Thanks for your letter. Nice going in Little League. You could find out about the bat boy job by writing the Dodger front office. Sincerely, Wes Parker.
Of course, he thought that was the biggest thing ever! And he sure was peeved when I made him turn off the radio and go to bed during the third inning -- whining about how he had a friend on the team. And he even had a goofy dream about the Dodgers. He said they were standing along the third base line, looking heroic in white home team uniforms while they recited in unison what sounded suspiciously like the Little League pledge. And those villainous Giants jeered from the visitor’s dugout the whole time.
So he worried the Dodgers through the final days of the pennant race, and right into the 1965 World Series! I think my son the Little Leaguer was nervous for his friend the big leaguer who was playing in his first World Series. Little League had taught the kid that baseball provides unlimited opportunities for a guy to screw up while a whole lot of people watch. But if you look it up, you’ll see that his Dodgers won the series in seven games over Minnesota and his pen pal, Wes Parker, batted .304 and performed flawlessly at first base. What’s more, the following season, the big leaguer fielded every letter the Little Leaguer mailed his way. Evidently using his time on the road for letter writing, he replied once from Pittsburgh and once from Atlanta. Overwhelmed by this response, my son recklessly decided to take this pen-pal thing to the next level.
And that’s why, a couple of weeks later, we were waiting in the smoggy, late-afternoon sunshine in parking lot number six in back of Dodger Stadium. We waited a long time at the bottom of a ramp watching some big glass doors at the top. A few people had come out, but no Dodgers. I noticed there were very few cars left in the lot. One of them, we hoped, belonged to Wes Parker who had promised to meet us here. I said don’t worry, he’ll be here, but it sure had been a long time since the game was over, and the kid was fretting and mumbling that he wouldn’t know what to say to a real, live big leaguer, anyway.