It was the next to the last Babe Ruth baseball game of the season. As we parents watched our teenagers from the good seats (our lawn chairs). My wife commented on what a nice evening it turned out to be.
From the street behind us, we heard a strange noise. It was a loud rubber smudge sound. Everyone in our row of chairs turned in time to see an old, orange, Ford station-wagon nose in between two parked cars, jump the curb, and was about to crash through the 6′ cyclone fence, on its way to us and the baseball diamond.
As we sprang to our feet, the car made a sharp right turn avoiding the fence and continued along the grass way with the fence on one side and parked cars on the other. It traveled nearly a block on the same lawn traversed by baseball players, parents and siblings, grand-parents, coaches and umpires. Luckily, no one was walking there at that moment.
In a couple seconds, another dad and I were running after the car. We raced along the fence, made the quick jog through the narrow gate, and chased after what I thought might be a drunk driver. I shouted his license number so one of us might remember. The car finally rolled to a stop. The two of us were pounding on the door window, shouting, “Turn it off!” The guy with me slid one finger left to right under his chin (signaling, kill it!) in case the driver didn’t speak English.
The driver turned the motor off, got out and walked to the back of the car. I reached in and pulled the keys from the ignition and tossed them in the back seat.
By this time, a white van came racing down the street with horn honking, and nosed into an empty parking space near the station wagon. The driver, a very large lady, was extremely excited, shouting, “Are you okay!? I didn’t expect you to hit me so hard!”
She left two babies in the van and approached the driver of the wagon. “I just didn’t expect you to hit me so hard!” She panted. A crowd was gathering, and the wagon driver was waving his arms, saying, “I’ss okay, sheez my wife. Andat’s my van, too!”
Realizing he may not be drunk, I asked him why he drove his car over the curb and all that distance on the grass. He explained that he was driving it to the repair shop (at seven in the evening) because “he had no brakes!” He knew his car had no brakes, so he had his wife drive ahead of him in the van, and if he needed to stop, he would bump into her. She would be his brakes.
A Stop Sign was waiting for them at Ninth Street where they would have to turn or drive through the baseball field. She brought the van to a stop, angled slightly to the left. He ran into her with enough force to knock her out of the way, cross the street, jump the curb and make a turn before eventually stopping.
The smudge noise we heard was the spare tire on the back of the van. I don’t know if his emergency brake worked or if he considered using it. I don’t know if he shifted the transmission out of gear. He didn’t think to turn the motor off. He apparently didn’t think about a lot of things.
An ambulance came for his wife; she was so upset and having trouble breathing, she had to lie down on the grass. The Police also showed up and cited the man for careless driving. As I started back to my son’s ball game, I noticed something was printed across the front of the wagon driver’s baseball cap. I was curious what this guy might endorse, so I got closer to read it. I swear to you this is true. His cap announced: “God must love STUPID PEOPLE because he sure makes a lot of them.”