Episode 66 — Chapters 74 & 75
Each night before retiring to bed, Cobb hoped the headaches would vanish and his vision would be restored when he awoke. Although the ringing in his ears no longer plagued him, the throbbing in his head persisted and worsened after nightmares. In the morning when the horrific images from his restless sleep began to fade, he kept his eyes shut, hoping that he would wake with his vision restored. But each morning, he awoke disappointed.
Savannah’s plane began its descent towards Osaka. Seated across the aisle from her was the cameraman, who had been snoring loudly for the past couple hours. She had never traveled to the Orient and she was excited to see a world far different than her own, but she knew there would be little time for sight-seeing. During the long flight, Savannah had familiarized herself with the competitive events from the World Master Games, which were scheduled to begin the following day. It was a daunting task, with 10 days of competition, 30,000 participants from over 100 countries and competition in 28 different sports; there was archery, badminton canoeing, cycling, lawn bowling, rowing, sailing, shooting, squash, swimming, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting, and even baseball, basketball and football.
To participate in the competition, contestants generally had to be at least 35 years of age, with competition groups of 35+, 45+ and 55+. She had a schedule of events which seemed to go on forever. For each of the ten days, there was a lengthy list of teams, times and locations for events in each of the 28 sports. She had also been given a hundred profiles on various contestants who had compelling personal-interest stories. Where to start? How could she possibly find all these people, let alone observe their events?
Savannah shook her head as the plane touched down in Itami Airport, trying to imagine the mental gymnastics that would be required to put together a cohesive and stimulating article for Sport Report. Isolated from her regular world, she would have to immerse herself in an alien locale for a competition she had only vaguely heard of before. As the plane began taxiing toward the gate, Savannah turned off the Airplane Mode of her phone and instantly several texts came streaming through.
As Savannah glanced at the messages, her thoughts returned to her lonely, haunted friend. She said a silent prayer for him, hoping his fortunes would soon improve. Cobb’s performance and playing time had declined considerably during recent days and she wondered if he would even be on the team when she returned home. She felt an urgent need to see him, sensing that something was terribly wrong, physically or mentally. She had planned on visiting him when the Braves played the Royals in nearby Kansas City in early May, hoping to boost his confidence and morale, but she wouldn’t be back in the States until that series was over.
Savannah dialed the number of Cobb’s apartment in Atlanta. She knew he wouldn’t be there, since the Braves were on the road. She left a message anyway, hoping he would soon hear her words of comfort and support.
April 29, 30, May 1
Atlanta at Arizona
Awakening Sunday morning on the first day of May, there was still no improvement in Cobb’s vision; in fact, it seemed to be worsening. The name had come to him during his sleep: Dr. Wilmer. If only he were here. It seemed just yesterday that he had visited the good doctor, complaining about his inability to focus properly. The doctor had discovered that Cobb had an inflammation that had attacked the focusing folds of his eyes. The vision problems had kept him out of the lineup in early September during his batting race with Napoleon Lajoie. Cobb had been fortunate to end up the victor, at .385 to Lajoie’s .384, especially with the last-day shenanigans by the St. Louis Browns. It had been a remarkable batting race and remarkable hitting, particularly since the entire American League had batted only .243 in 1910.
Inside his hotel room, Cobb stared at the landscape painting hanging on the wall, in deep reflection. His thoughts returned to his former life and he longed to be reunited with his family and familiar surroundings. He tried to remember his children’s faces; they had been so young when his old world had disappeared. It was even a challenge to remember Charlie’s face; he only saw her in black and white and wondered where the color of his memory of her had gone.
The homesickness was, at times, unbearable. The only antidote, and a temporary one at that, had been the distraction of excelling on the field of play amid the fan revelry. Now, that tonic was no longer available.
On an impulse, Cobb picked up the phone and dialed the number of the Cain family in South Carolina. Annabelle answered and she explained that Calvin was out-of-town on business for a couple of days. Cobb asked her if she knew an eye doctor in Atlanta. She immediately thought of Dr. Jacobs, whom her family had used some years before, during Calvin’s playing days in Atlanta. Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, had suffered through a severe eye infection and Dr. Jacobs had provided excellent care.
Cobb wrote down the phone number and made the call, after checking the Braves schedule. They had an off-day on Thursday, May 5th, after the Marlins series. An appointment was arranged for 10:00 a.m.