Summary by Shannon
Internal dating: Present day, none. Action takes place on a Saturday, apparently at least several weeks or months after Scully's birthday and likely near the episode airdate of April 25, 1999. Flashbacks to 1947 take place between June 29 and July 2.
July 2, 1947, Roswell, New Mexico. The Southwest All-Stars and Roswell Grays play a "cactus league" game in which a cactus behind home plate seems to be the main victim -- the pitcher is throwing wild, and half his pitches end up buried in the side of the cactus. His coaches and teammates keep exhorting him to throw "over the top."
The Grays are batting, and as Josh Exley strides to the plate, the catcher urges his teammates to move further back. Exley takes several wild pitches, fouling the first one off deep into the outfield. The left fielder goes after it, and stands in amazement as the ball is rolled back toward him by someone (or some*thing*) unseen.
A few pitches later (with a 2-1 count), Exley homers, standing at the plate to admire it, and commenting, "Sixty-one." He is mobbed by his teammates, but a group of men on horseback approach; they are wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and carrying guns, and they demand "that black Babe Ruth" be turned over to them. The teams refuse, and the wild pitcher finally finds his strike zone, hitting the leader in the side of the head with a ball. He knocks several off their horses as others of them run, and the players pick up the guns. But when one of the coaches pulls the hood off the leader, he is a classic gray alien.
The credits roll. Tagline: "In the Big Inning."
Basement, FBI headquarters. A custodian watches a baseball game in the hallway as Scully passes, carrying a bound volume of newspapers and a brown paper bag. In Mulder's office, she drops the volume on the desk, where Mulder, dressed casually, is already reading from another volume.
Scully climbs up on a chair and looks up, WAY up, out the windows near the ceiling. She comments on what a beautiful day it is, then asks Mulder, "Did you ever entertain the idea of trying to find life on *this* planet?"
Mulder: "I've seen the life on this planet, and that is exactly why I'm looking elsewhere."
Still standing on the chair, Scully then pulls what looks like an ice-cream cone from the bag she's carrying and begins eating, in a rather suggestive manner.
Mulder: "Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?"
Scully: "It's not ice cream. It's a non-fat tofutti rice Dreamsicle."
Mulder: "Ugh. I bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that. You sure know how to live it up, Scully."
Scully: "Oh, and you're Mister Live-It-Up. You're really Mister Squeeze-Every-Last-Drop-Out-Of-This-Sweet-Life, aren't you? On this precious Saturday, you've got us grabbing life by the testes."
Down from the chair, she then says that they're spending the day going through newspaper obituaries in New Mexico from 1940 through 1949, looking for anything that looks like an X-file. Still eating her cone, she says the search is "a needle in a haystack" and they should "let sleeping dogs lie."
Mulder: "Well, I won't sit idly by while you hurl cliches at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration."
Scully: "Necessity is the mother of invention."
Mulder: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."
Scully: "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die."
Mulder: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for non-fat tofutti rice Dreamsicle."
At this, he attacks the cone, managing one bite before it breaks in the struggle and drops onto the newspaper volume he's been reading from. Scully, laughing, realizes that Mulder's been reading about old baseball games instead of obituaries.
Mulder: "I've been reading the box scores, Scully. You'd like it; it's like the Pythagorean theorem for jocks."
He explains how he can recreate an entire game just by reading the box scores, which give the statistics for the game (hits, runs, errors, etc.).
Mulder: "It's like the numbers talk to me. They comfort me. They tell me that even though lots of things can change, some things do remain the same. It's ..."
Scully: "Boring. ... Mulder, can I ask you a personal question?"
Mulder: "Of course not."
Scully: "Did your mother ever tell you to go outside and play?"
Mulder is distracted by then, by a photo of "Roswell police officer Arthur Dales" on the page he's been reading. He rips the page from the volume and disappears from the office, Scully calling after him for "defacing government property." Her comment as he leaves: "You rebel."
Mulder goes to the Washington apartment of Arthur Dales, who turns out not to be the former FBI agent but his brother, who was a cop in Roswell in 1947. He does, however, seem to be just as fond of lounging in his bathrobe, and of drinking. He's reluctant to let Mulder in, saying his brother described him as "the biggest jackass in the Bureau," and finally slams the door in Mulder's face.
Mulder describes the photo of Dales with Negro Leagues player Josh Exley; he's so interested not because of Exley but because the photo also shows the Alien Bounty Hunter. Dales open the door at that and berates Mulder for not caring about the baseball. When Mulder insists he likes baseball, Dales quizzes him about the number of home runs hit by Mickey Mantle. Mulder gets it right -- 163 righty, 373 lefty, 536 total -- and Dales relents, letting him in.
Inside, Dales continues to tell Mulder that "baseball is the key to life" -- that understanding baseball will bring understanding of everything else. Mulder continues to focus in on the alien aspects, but Dales is having none of it.
Dales: "Agent Mulder, do you believe that love can make a man shapeshift?"
Mulder: "I guess women change men all the time ..."
Dales: "I'm not talking about women. I'm talking about love. Passion. Like the passion you have for proving extraterrestrial life. Do you believe that that passion can change your very nature? Can make you shapeshift from a man into something other than a man?"
Mulder: "What exactly has your brother told you about me?"
Mulder asks why, if the two Dales have known about aliens for 50 years they haven't told anyone, but Dales says no one would have believed them. Mulder insists he would have, but Dales says he wasn't "ripe."
Mulder: "Not ripe? Let me tell you something, I have been ripe for years. I am way past ripe. I'm so ripe I'm rotten. This cuts right to the heart of the mystery of what I've been doing with my life for the past ten years. ..."
Dales: "Maybe you'd better start paying a little less attention to the heart of the mystery, and a little more attention to the mystery of the heart."
Dales unearths an old baseball bank and tells Mulder for dimes, it will tell him the story. Mulder antes up, and Dales starts talking.
Roswell Municipal Ballfield, Roswell, New Mexico, June 29, 1947. Dales meets Josh Exley as his team, the Roswell Grays, is leaving for a road trip. Dales was sent to provide protection because of threats against Exley; Exley says he doesn't need it, but Dales says the only choice Exley has is between staying home with Dales, or letting Dales go on the trip with them.
Dales ends up going with them on the buss and sits practicing French -- appropriately, "vous etes sans coeur," or "You are without heart." He is soon "initiated" onto the team, his uniform switched with others' clothes as he sleeps.
Sometime in the night, Dales wakes up and makes his way back to Exley's seat, where he sees the player's reflection in the window -- it's the face of a classic gray. Exley wakes up and says: "What's the matter, Arthur? You look like you ain't never seen a black man before."
Present day. Back at Dales' apartment, he and Mulder are fixing hot dogs. Mulder thinks Dales has made the story up, disbelieving that Exley, "one of the greatest ballplayers of all time" was an alien. But Dales insists it's true.
Dales: "They're all aliens, Agent Mulder. All the great ones."
Mulder: "Babe Ruth was an alien."
Mulder: "Joe DiMaggio."
Mulder: "Willie Mays."
Dales: "Well, obviously."
Mulder: "Mantle. Koufax. Gibson."
Dales: "Bob or Kirk?"
A delivery boy shows up with Dales' "medicine" -- alcohol -- as he and Mulder continue to talk. Mulder still thinks the story is a metaphor, and Dales is getting a little frustrated about it. (He even starts calling Mulder "MacGyver.") Mulder tips the boy (badly), and as he runs off, the scene segues back to Roswell.
Roswell, June 30, 1947. Two young boys argue over whether or not Exley's record would count if he hit 61 homers in the Negro Leagues, rather than in the majors. On the field, the players are preparing for the game, and Dales accepts the offer of a plug of chewing tobacco -- then makes the mistake of swallowing it and is promptly sick on the ground.
While Exley is on deck later, Dales sees two men in the stands pull out what looks like guns, so he tackles Exley -- then realizes that the men have water guns. He explains away his overreaction by saying Exley had a bee [!] on him.
At bat, Exley is beaned (hit in the head with a pitch) and falls to the ground in pain. The catcher immediately slides a mitt under his head, and Exley begins to chatter in a unknown language. Other players ask him questions, including where he's from, and he finally answers, "Macon, Georgia." When Dales goes to pick up the mitt, it has green goo on it.
Back at headquarters, Dales gives the mitt to the department's forensic specialist to do testing and calls the Macon police department to ask about Exley. He is told "Josh Exley" was a six-year-old who disappeared five years before. Upon questioning, Dales confirms that he's calling from Roswell, New Mexico, and as the call ends, we see that the officer he has been talking to is actually the Alien Bounty Hunter.
At the next day's game, a young boy tells Exley that Yankees scouts are in attendance, so Exley tanks the game -- until they leave, at which point he hits homer number 60. On the bus after the game, Dales confronts Exley about his deception, saying Exley doesn't want into the majors because he's hiding something.
Later that night, Dales hears noises in Exley's room, next door, and goes to look through the keyhole. He sees someone or some*thing* moving around and uses his pocketknife to break in ... only to face a gray alien, wearing a baseball hat and holding a bat. They both scream (VERY girly screams), and Dales promptly faints.
When the alien wakes Dales, he looks at the alien and faints again. Several times. When he finally manages to stay awake, the gray explains that he's Exley, in his true form. Dales thinks he must be dreaming.
Exley: "I'm trying not to be insulted by your reaction to my true face."
Exley then shapeshifts into a lovely young woman and climbs into Dales' lap -- just before one of the team officials comes in to tell Exley the bus is about to leave.
On the bus, Exley quietly explains that his people aren't supposed to intermingle with humans, but that he fell in love when he saw a baseball game.
Exley: "See, there's something you got to understand about my race. We don't have a word for laughter. ... But I tell you, when I saw that baseball game being played, this laughter just ... it just rose up out of me."
Exley is called to the front of the bus, where the other players are singing hymns: "I got a brother in that land where I'm bound ..."
Present day. Back at Dales' apartment -- where the 1947 scene segues into a television commercial for "Gray Bus Lines" -- Mulder is trying to "connect the dots," but Dales is frustrated by his efforts.
Dales: "You certainly have a knack for turning chicken salad into chicken spit." [Note: Not a typo there; no "shit" allowed on television!]
Mulder continues talking out the story, missing Dales' point -- it's a story and supposed to be fun, not another piece of his puzzle. Finally, FINALLY, Mulder gets it.
Mulder: "It's official -- I am a horse's ass."
Dales explains that Exley had plenty of the heart, the integrity, it takes to make a man a man. The television again seques back to 1947 Roswell, where the Alien Bounty Hunter is waiting when the Grays return from a road trip. Exley sees him and obviously knows who he is.
At police headquarters, the forensic scientist tells Dales that the compound on the glove is from a non-carbon based lifeform, but Dales is alarmed when he says he contacted the FBI and the Communicable Disease Center. Dales asks for the glove back, but when the scientist turns around. Exley is standing there and attacks both the equipment and the scientist, killing him. He then shifts back into the Bounty Hunter.
At the stadium, Exley is running wind sprints when Dales approaches and tells him that Exley's being accused of murder. Ex motions for Dales to pick up a glove and they start a game of catch as they talk. Exley tells Dales that he's decided to go home, that he's realized that he's not human and belongs with his own people.
Exley: "You know the big thing that separates us from you?
Exley: "We got rhythm."
As sirens sound in the distance, Exley asks Dales to tell people about what he did on the field, then leaves, running off into the outfield.
Later, Dales is questioned by government agents, while at the same time Exley is hitting his homer at another field, in the game against the Southwest All-Stars, the Klan members approach, and the alien gray is unmasked (a shorter version of the scene from the teaser). The scene shifts back and forth between the game and Dales' interrogation, with Dales refusing to tell the agents anything, other than that Exley said he was going home. After they leave, Dales finds a map which leads him to the site of the game.
At the field where the two teams have been playing, the players scatter in fright at the sight of the alien. Exley, however, remains, knowing the alien is the Bounty Hunter, sent to kill him. The Bounty Hunter shapeshifts back into his human face, then stands up and draws a gimlet weapons. He berates Exley for risking the exposure of the Project for the sake of a game.
The Bounty Hunter then says he will return to his true form for the execution and he expects Exley to do the same. Exley refuses, insisting that the human form is his true face.
Dales approaches in his car just in time to see the Bounty Hunter pierce the back of Exley's neck. He runs over and pulls Exley into his lap as the Bounty Hunter escapes on horseback, but Exley tries to warn Dales off, saying his blood is toxic. His blood, however, is not green, but red. Exley is delighted by this discovery ... but then he dies, Dales still cradling his body.
Back at Dales' current apartment, he is leaned back on the sofa as if still holding Exley, upset at his memories. Mulder watches him, obviously affected by the story, as the hymn plays again: "I got a brother in that land where I'm bound ..."
Some time later (probably later that evening), Scully approaches a batting cage where Mulder, wearing a Roswell Grays jersey with the name "Gibson" on the back, is taking batting practice when Scully approaches.
Scully: "So uh ... I get this message marked 'urgent' on my answering service from one 'Fox Mantle' telling me to come down to the park for a very special, very early or very late birthday present."
When Scully tells Mulder she's never actually hit a baseball, Mulder says, "Get over here, Scully."
She does, and Mulder pulls her in front of him, wrapping his arms around her and showing her how to grip the bat. They are pressed tightly together and very playful with each other for the remainder of the scene, laughing and smiling as they hit.
Scully: "This my birthday present, Mulder? You shouldn't have."
Mulder: "This ain't cheap. I'm paying that kid ten bucks an hour to shag balls. ... Hey, it's not a bad piece of ash, huh?"
Scully looks at him askance at that, but he insists he's referring to the wood of the bat.
Mulder: "Now don't strangle it. You just want to shake hands with it. 'Hello, Mr. Bat. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.' 'Oh, no no *no*, Miss Scully, the pleasure is all mine.' ... Okay now, we wanna go hips before hands, okay, and we want to stride forward and turn."
He illustrates with his hand on Scully's hip -- twice.
Mulder: "We're gonna wait on the pitch, we're gonna keep our eye on the ball, and we're just gonna make contact."
They begin to hit, and Mulder keeps up a running commentary of the things they're not going to think about: "What you may find is, you concentrate on hitting that little ball, the rest of the world just fades away. All your everyday nagging concerns ... the ticking of your biological clock. How you probably couldn't afford that nice, new suede coat on a G-woman's salary. How you threw away a promising career in medicine to hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner. Getting into the heart of a global conspiracy. Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill ... oh, I'm sorry, Scully, those last two problems are mine, not yours ..."
Scully's finally had enough, but she's smiling as she says, "Shut up, Mulder ... I'm playing baseball."
As they continue to hit, the balls fly
into the night sky, transforming into stars.
A note on the baseball history here:
"Josh Exley" is based on two different players -- Negro Leagues great Josh Gibson, and minor leaguer Joe Bauman. Bauman, cited by Duchovny as the main inspiration for the story, set the U.S. Professional Baseball home run record of 72 in 1954, playing with Roswell's Longhorn League team. The record stands; even Mark McGwire's 70 homers in 1998 didn't break it.
But Exley is closer overall to Gibson. Born in Buena Vista, Georgia (not far from Macon), on December 21, 1911, Gibson is considered by many to be the greatest professional player in history. He hit about 800 home runs in the 17 years he played, including 75 in the 1931 season (which did not count toward the official professional record, unfortunately). Statistics for Negro League games were sometimes spotty, so the numbers are not known exactly, but his career batting average was in the neighborhood of .375.
Gibson's impressive hitting statistics earned him the nickname of the "black Babe Ruth," but he never made it to the majors. He was diagnosed in 1943 with a brain tumor but refused treatment; his health suffered for the next five years, until he finally died in January of 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Gibson, only 35 when he died, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
By the way, there were no "Roswell Grays."
The Roswell team was a minor league team called the Rockets. Josh Gibson's
Grays, the dominant Negro League team during the 1940s, were based in Homestead,
Pennsylvania, althought they played games in both Pittsburgh and Washington,
D.C. (Gibson also played several years for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.)
|| THE WINNERS' CIRCLE ||
|| CHEMICAL REACTION
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