Somewhere in his travels between Class A, AA and AAA ball, Phil Trombino had a teammate from Puerto Rico, or maybe the Dominican Republic, who grew more and more depressed as the season went on. Trombino comes down to us as a big guy with a big heart who was always ready to help, and seeing his teammate so depressed, he took him to breakfast and tried to cheer him up.
“It’s no good, Phil, I have to kill myself,” the ballplayer said. “My wife’s got a new man, she don’t love me anymore.”
Phil asked how he knew this. Did he hear it from his wife?
“That’s the problem, my wife don’t send me one letter since I come here,” said the disconsolate man. “I write to her every day. Every day, Phil, and I beg her but she don’t write.” Phil pondered this.
As they left the diner his teammate pulled out a letter to his wife, stamped and ready to go. “I write to her one last time,” he said, “she don’t write back to this one, I will jump under a goddamn bus.”
He walked over and dropped the letter through the slot of a tall red receptacle. Phil began to smile.
“You been mailing all your letters home from there?” Phil asked.
“Every day, I send her a letter in there every day, Phil. No letter from her, not one!”
Phil put a large hand on his teammate’s shoulder and began to laugh. “Well, you can stop worrying, man. Your wife still loves you. That’s the garbage can. You’ve been putting all your letters in the garbage can, your wife hasn’t had a single letter from you. That blue box across the street is the mailbox, man. This here is the garbage can.”
History does not record the reaction of the long ago teammate, but my sister and I had a good laugh, along with our mother. And, clearly, I never forgot the bones of this old story my father told us once over dinner.