Fenton and I knew him— Roy Hobbs, that is. Went to school together. Would like to say we ran with him, but the fact is no one could catch him. Not that (on paper) he was better…it’s just he had that swagger. I never dated in high school and Stuart did, but our friend cruised through Brush top down, full speed ahead, like a Mustang in heat.

Roy Hobbs was The Natural.

We’re on the back nine now. Each, in our own way, has had a good run. Roy, of course, is still running. Roy, of course, is still playing, (or feigning it). He is in many ways the Brett Favre of gamesmanship.


Forty years ago Hobbs played an exhibition game (let’s call her Karla). He circled the bases then, but the stats have long been lost in life’s shuffle. Still, Roy being Roy, it came as no real surprise when at the century’s turn he exclaimed:

“I wonder where Karla is. How can we find her?” “Let it go,” said Stuart as I laughed and asked “Why?”

“Because I want to find her. That’s why!”

He craved that one last at bat, he did. He was on a mission. Roy Hobbs, aging, but not necessarily grown up, ached to enter the batter’s box again.

“B, you can find her. I know you can!” (He wasn’t done: “Fenton, tell the B to find her.” Stuart, eager to agitate and aggravate, would respond: “You know, Roy, if B really wanted to, he could find her in a minute.” It was a dialogue repeated ad nauseum.

For years I demurred. No, make that decades. Then, somewhere in the days of Bush (or was that daze of Bush?), I caved.

Our friend was elated. He had no current name, no current address–but he did know she was married and in Chicago.

“B, ya gotta find her,” he cajoled. Fenton egged on: “If you can do this, B, it’ll be a big one.” (He KNEW my soft spot).
“I’d do it myself, you know, but I can’t,” urged Hobbs.
“OK,” I said. “I’ll do it for the story.”
Stuart roared his concluding needle: ”He’ll find her in a week, you watch.”

But I couldn’t. And the more I couldn’t the more Roy pushed. He just never let up.

“I think her parents are alive…
“I think they live in the apartment behind Eastgate… Have you looked at court records?…If you go to the apartment building I’ll wait in the car…”
“If you really wanted to you would….I know you, B.”

But I couldn’t. Probate Court brought a marriage license—worthless. Google was a waste and even Regina High’s alumni list dead-ended. I loved Roy, but, I could read a hand. It was 2008 and I was all in.

The past years were peaceful. Roy mentioned her here and there and Stuart stirred the pot, (but with little enthusiasm). Perhaps, we concluded, she was another Fromin: happy to be unfound.

This spring, again, Stuart put the ball in play:

“I know where B could find her,” he pronounced. “Facebook!” It was enough to send Hobbs to the on deck circle. Still when the plea on my “Wall” came up empty, we were down to our last outs.

It was a few Saturdays ago when the break came. The tip came from a friend, anonymously: a new last name! Sensing the runner in scoring position, I called only Stuart. Quietly, discreetly, he waited.

Ten days ago we found her on Facebook, Another name, another state; same face.

Hobbs got the news by conference call and was elated.

“What else did you learn?” he asked us.
“Nothing. I’ve written her though…The flag is up!”

This morning she wrote back. Married with children, said. Thrilled to be remembered. No more, no less.

We called Roy to break the news.

“She’s married!
“I figured.” he noted. “Why wouldn’t she be? I just wanted to find her.”
And with that, Roy Hobbs trekked back to the dugout.

Favre went out on a turnover. Not our friend. Roy Hobbs went out a winner.

It’s not whether you win or lose, you know…it’s how you play the game. Roy Hobbs played it like the man he was: The Natural.

One Response to “THE NATURAL”

  1. Stuart says:

    Didn’t Roy Hobbs get shot in that movie?

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