Field Crumpets New York

 

How Field Crumpets came to New York
One early crumpeter from the neighboring city of Overland Park first encountered field crumpets arriving late to a friend's birthday party. The party was Robbie Overton's; the arrival was Tau Kung; the year was 1997. This particular late arrival was quite unfashionable, since it resulted in missing the odd game in progress on Robbie's front lawn, which terminated shortly thereafter.

Strange as the sight was, Tau was not that surprised, by virtue of such experiences as prolonged exposure to the Blue Valley North H.S. french horns. He proceeded to forget about it, until another more punctual visit to Robbie's resulted in sudden crumpet education and enlightenment. Many games followed, and it was a golden age of crumpeting.

Then the year 2000 rolled around, and many a field crumpet regular left the Kansas City area for college. Tau found himself in Ithaca, New York, at Cornell University. Talk of the game actually surfaced several times with fellow trombone players, who appeared interested. He saw a surprising 10 or so crumpet sticks (large diameter whiffle bats) at an Ames store, and even bought two better-priced bats at a K-mart. But the proper combination of interest and free time did not present itself for a year.

One day in 2001, when crumpet sticks seemed sparse of late, three Cornell marching band trombonists set out to the Pyramid Mall. Tau Kung, Rico Screpka and Chris Parkin entered the complex hoping to find a few. One of them suggested the Dollar Store, but Tau, having seen a 2-3 dollar range at stores before, was doubtful.

To his amazement, there in the Dollar Store sat a cardboard box filled with bright yellow whiffle bats.

The trio quickly decided that a crumpet (ball) should be secured first, reasoning that plastic toy balls were more likely to sell out. They turned around and headed for the Ames on the other side of the mall. On the way, they encountered a table, conveniently offering Ames coupons.

A Winnie the Pooh ball was selected for its bounce and good inflation, and the trio presented cash and coupon at the register. The cashier paused. He slowly examined the coupon, leaned his head at his watch, and lifted his head back to the trio. He asked if they didn't want to save their coupon for a larger purchase. The trio declined, but the cashier was a sporting man. A slow, sporting man. He would make it difficult, explaining, in spite of the trio's conviction, that the coupon was good for yet more months. Tau, thinking something along the lines of "I don't plan to buy anything else from your store, sir", reiterated instead that the ball alone would be fine. The trio finally won the 30 percent discount on the less than two dollar ball, and trekked victoriously to the Dollar Store, where, to their dismay, a few college students were fiddling with the booty of bats next to the register.

One of the fiddlers was explaining to another that he and his fraternity friends would play intoxicated baseball; his conversational companion evinced neither chagrin nor awe. The trombonists paused, calculating the situation, as one of the conversing students lifted a bat out, talking, and set it down, talking. This lifting and setting repeated. And repeated. Many, many times. Frustrated, the trio shadowed the short line, muscles taut with a low humming current.

The moment the lifter-setter relinquished his grasp and displayed a small distance between hand and bats, Rico promptly asked, "Did you want a bat?", and upon the instinctive, cautious response "No," he stepped, leaned, grabbed with two hands, heaved the huge box onto his shoulder, and walked back in line. The students ahead, a bit surprised, paid for their items and left, still partially startled.

The trombonists and the cashier then struggled to accurately count the bats without having to empty the box on the floor. Twenty two was agreed upon, and the trombones left victorious. At the parking lot, a recount showed twenty one, but the trombones were victorious anyway.

This largest and (most inexpensive per unit) collection of crumpeting instruments yet amassed was brought to the Cornell Marching Band picnic. A few rules were missed by unanticipated mass crumpets teaching logistics, but most were properly conveyed, and the first game east of the Mississippi commenced. Field crumpets had arrived in New York.

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