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April 8, 2019 BASEBALL, Poetry

Ode to Baseball

Jimmy Pappas

Ode to Baseball photo

First Field 

At the top of the hill from my house 
was a baseball field we called First Field. 
We played there all the time. No adults 
allowed. I learned how to organize groups. 
I called up my friends and set up games. 
Everyone was welcome. No one was cut 
in this league. Right field was split in half 
by a hill. If the ball went down the hill, 
you were out. Once we gathered up tools 
and tried to dig up the grassy bumps. 
We dug from first base to half way 
across the infield before we lost our energy. 
It stayed that way. One day someone asked, 
Why didn't we start from third base? 


My First Home Run 

I still have a scar on my left knee from when 
I made a great catch in center field and landed 
on a piece of glass. Then there was the time 
my friend clocked me in the skull with a bat 
while trying to stop six inches from my head. 
A large pile of rocks was out in left field--
our Fenway Park wall. Hit a fly ball in there, 
it's a home run, a ground ball's a double. 
The thing I remember the most about my 
first home run was how I saw the ball 
make contact with the bat. When Ted Williams 
talked about just such an incident, I said, 
Yeah, I know all about that. I did the same thing. 


Second Field 

Second Field was used by the town for 
recreation. My Dad played in a softball 
league there. Left field was a long home 
run over a twenty-foot cliff. There was 
just enough dirt at an angle so that you 
could run down. My dream was to make 
a back-to-the-plate-one-handed grab 
to rob someone of a home run while I 
jumped off the cliff and miraculously 
survived landing in the dirt below. 


A Visit with my Dad 

When my dad was dying from old age 
and Parkinson's disease, we visited Second 
Field to see what the town had done to it. 
Kids were now playing baseball here 
on computers in packed apartments. 
A little grass remained near the cliff. 
I asked my father to tell some stories 
about his days playing here. When he 
did not respond, I turned to look at him 
and saw that he was crying. I turned 
my head back, stared straight ahead, 
and joined him. 


image: Aaron Burch