The Clown House, A Mailbox Baseball Story – Chapter 2, The Mailbox Baseball Dilemma

Big Fanny and Cassandra Hall had arrived in Hertford a day or two prior to the moving company arriving to close on the home and decided to settle in at a local Hertford Bed and Breakfast and unwind.  Faneuil was eager to learn more about the area, the town, the small shops, the diners, and find out what he could about the clown house he was about to move into and the comments made by June Butters about its place in the annals of mailbox baseball.  After unpacking, Big Fanny and Cassandra split up for the afternoon to venture out and explore before meeting up for their first dinner in Hertford.  Cassandra borrowed a ten speed bike from the B&B office and pedaled off to a park near the water’s called Missing Mill Park.  Big Fanny set out on foot and was eager to mingle with the Hertford townspeople to do some investigatory work.  He didn’t have to walk too far before he made a rather large discovery.

A sign posted outside Layden’s Country Store caused Big Fanny to say to himself, “this is fate, I know fate when fate happens, and this is fate.”  The sign read “2pm Community Alert Meeting, The Mailbox Baseball Dilemma, Hosted by former FBI Agent now Hertford resident Lowell Parsons.”  Big Fanny thought, wow this town is really getting rocked by mailbox so badly they have to bring in the FBI?  Faneuil texted Cassandra that he had made a giant discovery and he would be at the Hertford Town Hall lawn at 2pm if she wished to join him.  She respectfully declined but added “you have fun dear and fill me in at din-din.”  Big Fanny walked into Layden’s, grabbed a large water bottle, a Snickers bar, and asked the clerk where the Town Hall was and if he had any more info on the Mailbox Baseball seminar.  The clerk, Mr. Charlie Layden himself at or about 85 years of age, friendly at first and then emotionally charged up about the subject, pointed across the street “about 2 o’clock buddy, just past that gazebo, is where the talk will be held.  I get punched in the gut every 6 weeks or so by the Mailbox baseball goofs.  I’ll be there in the front row getting an education along with you bud.”  Big Fanny nodded and headed over to the gazebo to have a sip or two of water with his Snickers bar.

From his seat in the gazebo, Big Fanny watched as close to 50 Hertford and surrounding county people gathered on the lawn of the Hertford Town Hall.  A podium had been set up and Faneuil could see Agent Parsons carrying a briefcase and some audio equipment for his presentation.  Parsons looked like an FBI or Secret Security or ex-athlete, thought Big Fanny and this was all playing out like a TV show, he chuckled to himself.  “Whoever cast FBI Parsons, bravo sir or madam,” he muttered to himself.  “What?” asked a man walking innocently by the gazebo as Big Fanny was talking to himself.  Faneuil stood up and apologized, “sorry just sitting here talking to my best audience, no disrespect, not meant for you.”  The man approached Big Fanny and extended his hand.  “Kevin Reilly, I’m just passing through town and wanted to hear how this guy plans on curtailing the mailbox baseball dilemma that drove my uncle out of Hertford.”  Faneuil Hall accepted Kevin’s handshake and replied, “Faneuil Hall, new owner of the Clown House, here to learn more about what I am up against.”  Kevin’s handshake got tighter and faster, “Ah, so you bought my Uncle’s place on Wiggins.  Congrats and welcome to Hertford.”

“I’d love to chat with you further and meet your uncle, but let’s head over and see what FBI Parsons has to say, shall we?” asked Big Fanny as the seminar was about to begin.  Kevin nodded and handed Big Fanny his business card, in the event the two split up during or after the seminar.  “This outta be fun, wonder what he is going to charge everyone.,” said Kevin with a pronounced frown on his face.  The two newly acquainted and now indirectly connected friends walked across the street and took up a spot in the back of the 50 plus person crowd at the Hertford Town Hall.  Charlie Layden walked out from the crowd and then stood facing the crowd with what appeared to be an antique bell attached to a foot or so rope that looked like it had seen better days.  Layden rang the bell as if the British were coming and yelled out “this meeting is now called to order,” not entirely necessary for a volunteer seminar on a town lawn, but Layden felt it was appropriate.  Up to the podium stepped former FBI Agent Parsons, who fixed the microphone, said hello to the crowd gathered and then got right into it:

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “mailbox baseball,” here is a brief description.  A car, filled with one or more persons plus the driver, sets out onto rural roads, dimly lit neighborhoods, and rarely monitored streets.  One or more persons in the passenger seat and/or the back seat closest to or facing the sidewalks, houses, and lawns of the aforementioned travel areas has a baseball bat of some type, preferably aluminum but it can also be wooden. Their target is an unsuspecting mailbox, typically used for letters, magazines, small parcels, and other personal mail.  The object of the game is to drive within hitting distance of the mailbox and have the passenger in the front or back seat of the car strike the mailbox with the baseball bat while the car is in motion.  In short, you are replacing the normal batting practice scenario – pitcher throws a baseball to you standing several feet away, you swing and hit the baseball.  You score points by knocking the mailbox off of its perch, its post, essentially knocking it to the ground. Points are tallied and shared with other mailbox baseball participants later that night, the next day, or in the weeks to follow at social gatherings, job sites, school lunches, and perhaps at your next “actual” baseball game.

In 2022, a typical mailbox can cost as little as $25.  The post you would mount a typical mailbox on can be as cheap as $10.  Time to install a post into the ground, install a mailbox onto that post, simply depends on the skill level of the installer.  I would say the average installation would take less than an hour for a skilled person, perhaps a bit longer for a lesser skilled person.  The real costs are the emotional damage of seeing a piece of your property damaged on your lawn later that evening after it was smashed or the next time you go to check your mail.  The hassle of going to the store, getting the materials, finding time to install an item that was working perfectly just a day or so ago – that is the real damage caused by mailbox baseball events.  The mailbox baseball victim now has to wonder, “if I put this one up, will it be smashed in a few days or the next game of mailbox baseball by this team?”  The physical materials cost pales in comparison to the emotional costs inflicted by the mailbox baseball team on the mailbox and its owner.”

Parsons was an intimidating figure and had captured the full attention of the crowd, who were mostly standing.  Big Fanny looked over at Kevin who was attentive yet had a look of “been there done that, get to the point.”  Parsons pulled up a few examples of recent mailbox baseball events in the town, showing smashed after smashed and broken mailboxes laying on Hertford homeowners’ lawns like metal corpses.  The slideshow had some theatrical music attached to it, which impressed Big Fanny of course.  He thought to himself, “geez, this guy could work at my old studio tomorrow.”   Parsons was laying it real thick, showing a ton of destroyed mailboxes, letters strewn across lawns and adjoining streets, and busted wooden posts that looked like an M-80 had just been blown off on top of it.  After the nearly 10 minute video, Parsons let the crowd fester a bit before addressing them again.

“So, are you tired of this happening to you, my fellow residents of Hertford?  Are you sick and tired of being woken up in the middle of the night to hear a smash on your lawn?  To walk out and see your mailbox destroyed, your letters flung about, your property damaged?  Maybe for a second time or perhaps a fifth, sixth, or seventh time,” preached an excitable Agent Lowell Parsons. With this the crowd started to answer his hypothetical questions with a few spattering “Yes” and then a more resounding group would yell out “Yeah!”  and then towards the end of the questions an overwhelming “Heck Yeah!!!”   Big Fanny joined in with the crowd just for fun and looked over at a very stern-faced Kevin, who decided not to join in.  “What would you do to protect your family from these mailbox baseball games?”  shouted Parsons, now standing next to the podium which housed the microphone.  “I will tell you, you can start by protecting yourself today and I can show you how.”  And with that Parsons pulled out a book from the shelf of the podium and held it up in the air like a preacher would raise a bible and explained, “my 10 step, guaranteed program will protect your letters, ensure your mailbox is safe and secure, and above all, make damn sure your mailbox baseball days are over!”  The crowd erupted in a big cheer and former FBI agent Lowell Parsons waved his book in one hand and flashed the thumbs up in the other hand, like he had just won the nomination for mayor of the City of Hertford.  Mr. Layden stepped out in front of the crowd again, this time without the bell and frayed rope and exclaimed, “Agent Parsons will be distributing his new book at Layden’s today after this meeting.  Come over, grab some refreshments on the house, and meet him and get yours while supplies last.”

Big Fanny turned to ask Kevin if he wanted a book but Kevin had slipped out without saying good-bye.

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