“Why do you like baseball so much?” asked my husband’s son.
My self-conscious, stumbling answer:
To love a team from childhood,
To care so much about the players…every game.
“I know that” he said impatiently,
“But I don’t remember you always liking it so much.”
I always did, I replied,
Not willing to say more.
Knowing he could not understand,
He who never seemed to care who I am,
Where I come from,
Or what is my story.
What does he know of what I liked or did not like
Before he entered my world
and I entered his.
I’m only a road that leads to his father,
An occasional home-cooked meal,
A home at the holidays.
He turned away anyway,
bored with my answer.
His question stayed with me.
I know the real answer.
I think of the little girl,
With a crooked baseball cap
Clutching Daddy’s old catcher’s mitt,
The old leather scent of it,
Wearing her favorite red sneakers,
Spiral notebook in hand,
The snowy television screen,
and the aluminum foil rabbit ears.
While Yaz hit homeruns,
Before Tony C. got beaned,
and Jim Lonborg charmed the hitters
into making outs.
(Her first crush – Gentleman Jim.)
First, she loved baseball because of the fantasy.
She wanted to play,
To be a boy running on the field.
Then she wanted to be the first girl to play
In the major leagues.
When that passed, she just wanted to marry one.
Those intriguing man/boys
in stretchy pants.
Time passed, no longer intrigued.
A child’s dream died
and turned into more practical things.
But the game lived on in the background
like the soundtrack of a movie.
She often turned away
But still checked the papers,
Took note of the scores,
Listened on lazy weekend afternoons.
Saw Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans,
Saw poor Bill Buckner
make his untimely gaff,
Nomar’s fidgets and twitches,
Manny being Manny.
Drawn in by the charisma of Johnny Damon,
His grand slam still rising,
The stolen base.
They captured a trophy
That her father did not get to see.
Still, she gave only half of herself
Until the summer of surgeries,
The agonizing wait for results.
She turned on the television
because she could do nothing else.
And there it was again.
Even when the scars healed
and the results were all good;
Even when the team was broken
and humiliated in defeat and failure,
She knew their scars would heal, too,
and she would be there.
The little girl
In red sneakers,
Who always loved the game.