Although we were not required to read part III, I think it is an extremely important section in terms of understanding Marvin Lundy's bizarre quest to complete the history of the baseball, and discovering the dark secret locked inside of Nick Shay.
On October 3, 1951 Marvin Lundy was traveling through the Swiss Alps listening to Russ Hodges on a portable radio. Every time the train entered the tunnel, the account of the game was interrupted. Years later, Lundy purchased a ball which he believed to have been the baseball hit on that fateful day in 1951. In order to prove his theory, Lundy began to trace the history of the ball. The last link in the chain brought Lundy to the docks of San Francisco. During their vacation, Lundy dragged his wife Eleanor to the docks in search Chuckie Wainwright, son of Charles Wainwright the first-known owner of the baseball. After Chuckie proved to be a no-show, Marvin became frustrated. In an attempt to encourage her husband to stay with his passion, Eleanor reveals the reasoning behind his search for the lineage of the baseball.
"I used to think you were mad. But I understand now. Yes, you're mad but there's a certain reasoning behind it. There's a little childlike spot of logic. Dear Marvin. Without the final link to the baseball there's no way to be sure how the story ends. What good's a story without an ending? Although in thins case it's not the ending we need but the beginning."
If only Lundy could go back in time (or read Part III of Manx Martin) he would realize that he was correct, his lineage of the baseball was right.
In earlier portions of the novel, we learn that Nick is hiding (or even running) from his past. He not only seems to have disassociated himself from it, but distanced himself everyone in it. The question we are left asking is, "why?" Part III reveals part of the answer. While on a business trip in 1978, Nick has sex with a stranger. During their encounter, he begins to tell the woman about his past.
"I'd been in correction."
"For shooting a man. I shot a man."
"Killed him. I was seventeen when it happened and to this day I'm not sure whether the intent was express or implied ot howsoever the law reads. Or was it all a desperate accident?"
Then, he did his impression of a mobster, "in udder words I took him off da calendar." Nick made his confession to a complete stranger during their one-night stand. Although he told Marian about the affair, he could not, despite his guilt, bring himself to fill in the blanks of his past. As he put it, "I was selfish about the past, selfish and protective. I didn't know how to bring Marian into those years." He justifies his actions by arguing that "silence is the condition you accept as the judgement of your crimes." In my opinion it is odd that Nick feels that he can open up to an stranger, but not his wife, the woman who he should be able to share his dark and dirty secrets with. Is he being "selfish," or is he afraid that Marian, like his father, would abandon him if she knew the truth.