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Bob Lemon (L) and Ronald Reagan (R) Dennis Morgan (Stanley Morner) and Ginger Rogers f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 25 mostly meant for entertainment, show case celebrities and major leaguers, and sell tickets. These games played in 1946-7. The money they made enabled the community to build Two Strike Park, a facility which still exists on the five acres of land purchased in La Crescenta. I had the privilege of being the batboy for these games when I was fourteen years old, something that included playing catch with major league baseball players. More than 40 years after he donated the land for Two Strike Park, the late Dennis Morgan was finally recognized for his contribution to the community. His granddaughter, Mara Morner-Ritt, accepted the award for him. In the words she spoke, Mara said, “He was just a decent family man. That’s what I liked most about him.” After three years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Stan Morner spent a career as a high school English teacher, most of it in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Mr. Morner is a vice president in The Ina Coolbrith Circle, a literary organization founded by California’s first Poet Laureate, Ina Coolbrith. He has been a swimmer with the Walnut Creek Masters Swim Team for nearly 30 years and is a member of the Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. Stan Morner was born in 1934 in Wisconsin and came to California when he was nine months old because his father had been given a contract as an actor/singer with MGM. His father, AKA Dennis Morgan, made 52 films in Hollywood as a leading man. Stan Morner has published poetry, fiction, and essays in a number of periodicals, including California English, Kansas Magazine, Anais, an Iyternational Journal, Collages and Bricolages, and The San Jose Mercury News, Bulletin of the California State Library Foundation. Mr. Morner is currently working on a book concerning his family’s experiences in Hollywood. “Playing Catch” is a shortened version of one of the chapters in this work in progress. Playing Catch I’m playing catch with Dad one last time. He tosses. “It’s getting to be the late innings.” The ball smacks our worn gloves. “What do you know about death, Dad?” He rifles a hot one my way. “You just kind of stay around.” I think of Dante, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Greek shadows hanging around Hades. This staying around thing bothers me. I flick a lazy curve his way. It bothers me a lot because he’s dead. Probably knows something I don’t. Bothers me even more because he was a Christian the last time I saw him. I slip him my best slider. That pitch has some bite to it. “Do they play baseball in heaven, Dad?” I’ll be darned if the old guy isn’t smiling. “Sure they do. That’s the good news.” “What could be bad about baseball?” “You’re set to pitch tomorrow, Butch.”


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