In Hoosiers, during the state championship game, the silently stoic Jimmy Chitwood could not miss. Every shot he took he made. Fade aways, post ups, bank shots. That short shorts clad cager was in a zone. As the last seconds ticked away and Hickory’s chances of winning a title were waning, Jimmy’s teammates turned to their quiet forward for just one more shot. He hit the final shot, Hickory won, and I forever consider Hoosiers to be the best sports movie of all time (with all due respect to Mr. Balboa, and Brian Piccolo, I still sit on the edge of my seat wondering if Jimmy is going to hit that shot). But I digress.
If Jimmy Chitwood were in, as it is called, a zone, then I might have well been wearing short shorts pasted to my thighs and Chuck Taylor high tops because there was no glass that was safe from my flying onslaught of dimes. I was in a zone. I was in my Jimmy Chitwood zone (Sadly this was my life’s one moment to be perfectly locked in and hitting on all cylinders. Destiny’s icy fingers thought it best for a dime pitch to be my finest hour and not the SAT’s or any test taken during college).
The eight of us, and more specifically, I, had decimated the stock of glasses spinning innocently on the turntables. The old man was sweating as he ran back and forth from the turntables to us with another newly won glass. His wife had a look on her face, as I won more HamBurglar and Miller High Life glasses from their stand, as if I had just taken her good family China from their dining room (by the look of both of them I probably had).
I don’t even remember throwing the dimes. I just remember shouts from all of us to the old man to stake claim to various glasses with our dimes resting in the bottom of them. The crowd swelled behind us. Chants and cheers burst out as the clang of yet another dime made its way to the bottom of the Dime Pitch’s prizes.
I began taking orders from our newly formed frenzied fan club for glasses. Locals, trying to get their hands on that last movie promotion E.T. glass from Burger King to finally complete their set. People wanting to take part in a piece of history the Civil War vets’ bubbling bile of bean soup never did. The crowd was six deep and growing.
As the crowd barked for another glass, mine and my colleagues dimes answered their calls. I was like the wacky FM DJ taking requests from sixteen year olds hungry to hear their voices on the radio and for some techno-4 Non-Blondes songs on the overnight shift. Glasses were being passed back through the raucous crowd like rolls of bread in Communist Russia and all to thunderous applause.
It had gotten to the point where even the old man began rooting for us (I can’t say the same for his wife). Despite his sweaty brow and and concern for what he would drink his backyard moonshine out of, he displayed the face of a man who appreciated excellence. It’s a tip of the hat to Ted Williams’ .406 batting average by Yankee fans. The old man wasn’t looking to lose his favorite beer drinking glass (Which he had cleverly placed at the pinnacle of the spinning turntables. It was like hitting ‘100’ on a skeeball alley) but when he did he seemed willing to hand over that glass beer Stine.
Our Folgers cans, once filled with our parent’s and our sofa’s money, eventually ran empty. Reflex had us continue to digitally search for dimes at the bottom of the cans even though our minds knew nothing was there. Some of us, so entrenched in the moment, started looking around on the ground and scavenging our pockets for just one more dime to throw (we were one step short of offering lewd sexual favors for one more dime). But our dimes were finished and the dust eventually cleared as did the crowds. As they dispersed (excited about finally getting those complete sets of BK glasses), we finally had an opportunity to survey exactly what are our cache’ of dimes had won for us.
Our battle, though it seemed to last for hours, was short lived and quite lopsided. In front of us, and none more so than I, sat an ocean (or at least a large sea) of glasses. I asked the plump Dime Pitch owner if I could have his Schlitz box to carry home my winnings. He happily obliged. As he handed me the box he shook my hand for a job well done. The box may have been his way of congratulating us? Like Lee surrendering the South back to the Union? Like Apollo Creed giving Rocky a rematch in Rocky II? Or it could have been that he just did not have a whole of lot of glasses to take home that Saturday night (at worst, it gave him a good excuse to buy another case of beer to empty)?
We walked away from the Dime Pitch, victorious and beaming with smiles. We immediately began to recount our tale of glory only to find our voices had left us halfway through the Pitch as we called out won glasses and encouraged the energy of the crowd. Our hands were full of glasses. As we made our way down the festival we received curious glances from the locals and whispers to their partners about what they watched us do. We had laid waste, reminiscent to a Viking raid on an unsuspecting village, to the old man’s game of Dime Pitch.
The following year we returned with the visions of repeating our milestone from a year ago. The portly old man had returned to his Dime Pitch booth with a new supply of glasses. He recognized us too as we took our places around the stand ready to once again claim glory and his entire stash of kitchenware(I could have sworn I saw sweat start to form on his forehead as he was figuring out how he would tell his wife he lost all their new drinking glasses again).
But it never happened. We did win, and probably more than anyone else who pitched a dime that weekend, but there was never a moment like that Saturday night in 1992. The crowd never formed and our fever for more glasses never rose. It was as if we knew what we did the year before would never be able to be toppled. We walked away from the Bean Soup and for most of us, we never looked back (rumor has it the Dime Pitch is no longer there).
So what of our place in history? Well according to one definition, history is defined as a past notable for its important, unusual, or interesting events. Civil War vets? Rowdy teenagers travelling far and wide eager to prove their mettle against a game of skill? The focus and energy of an entire festival zeroed in on a small Dime Pitch stand? Sounds important. Sounds unusual. Sounds interesting.
Sounds like history to me.