We would play ball anywhere: church parking lot, an open field,
the court in front of our house, and sometimes even a baseball field—
in any season, in any weather, with anyone, even girls. We played ball.
To promote reading, our library brought newly arrived Giant,
Alvin Dark, third base, to talk. He tossed out a number of balls,
all eagerly caught. I was sitting too far back.
Summer day. The neighbors over the back fence have their radio on high.
“Sandford looks in, gets the sign. The wind-up. The Pitch.”
I listen along, pulling weeds.
World Series, 1962. Yankees won the first, third, and fifth. Giants won
the second, fourth, and sixth. The seventh game, a day game, and teacher let us listen.
Wild we went as ball left bat, leaping, cheering, tossing imaginary confetti,
even the announcer fooled by the high leaping Yankee shortstop.
Playing alone in the backyard, I practice catch, hurling the ball high,
then, to the radio announcer in my mind: “It’s hit to deep left field.
De Wett races back. He leaps. He gloves it. The Giants win the pennant.
The Giants win the pennant.” Practice batting as well,
tossing up dirt clods and sending their smithereens across Dad’s garden.
Driving to evening church, glued to radio. Juan Marichal
and Warren Spahn throwing heat. Then after church,
they were still throwing, no hits, no runs, the top of the fifteenth.
Again, back home, in the bottom of the sixteenth,
Mays spoiled the greatest shutout ever with a home run.
Every pack of Topps carefully searched while blowing
bubbles of pink gum. All Yankee cards pulled and clipped
to the spokes of my bike—all those Fords, Mantles,
and Berras ruined in revenge for ’62.