The feature story in the May 2014 issue of American Spectator begins:
Samuel Alito is wearing a numberless Philadelphia Phillies uniform, standing next to Phillies legend Richie Ashburn, the hittingest batter of the ’50s and a childhood hero of his. He looks happy.
“Back when I was on the Court of Appeals, when I was forty-three, my wife signed me up for Phillies Phantasy Camp,” he tells me. “I never would have done it, but it was a Christmas present.” Phantasy Camp is the aging baseball junkie’s nirvana. For a week, campers train with athletic professionals, drill with former players, square off against one another, and, on the last day, play a game—with real MLB rules—against Philly old timers. Alito, a Little League veteran who has coached his son’s baseball team, says he loved it. Before I can think of a tactful way to broach the subject, Alito begins telling me what it’s like to live with a bunch of white-collar middle-aged guys pretending to be professional athletes. “By the end of the week everybody had pulled their hamstrings,” he says. “The locker room smelled overwhelmingly of Bengay. Nobody could run. Everybody was hobbling.”
I ask him how the final game against the old timers went. “I was up to bat against a pitcher named Al Holland. I’m sure he was trying to take it easy, but when he threw the first pitch I didn’t even see it. ‘This is going to be embarrassing,’ I thought. All I wanted to do was put the ball in play, so I started to swing before he even released the pitch. I managed to get a ground ball. It was a moral victory.”
He laughs and places the photograph back on a shelf stuffed with championship hats, team towels, ticket stubs, and newspapers whose headlines announce big Phillies wins. “My wife threw this stuff out of the house,” he says. “It landed here.”
When I sat down with Alito in his Supreme Court chambers back in March, I worried for a moment that we might spend the entire afternoon talking about baseball. Alito and the game go back a long way, much further than Alito and the law, to his childhood in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, a suburb of Trenton. “We’d go to doubleheaders on Sundays at Connie Mack Stadium,” he says. “We would sit along the right-field line. The tickets were a dollar and a half, so for the four of us, my parents, my sister, and me, it was six bucks.” In 1972 when he cheekily declared his ambition to “warm a seat on the Supreme Court” in his Princeton yearbook, he was secretly nursing a fantasy of becoming commissioner of baseball, also a onetime wish of President George W. Bush.
Alito was born in Trenton in 1950 to Samuel Alito, Sr. . . .