by David Adler
In 1983, in the cheap seats of Dodger Stadium
It was Mormon Family Night at the Bardball palladium.
We paid exactly three bucks a bleacher ticket
And yet from that far we could still hear the wicket
When Franklin Stubbs went yard
Off a rookie from way down on the farm
And memory is a game the older you stay sane.
A single becomes a deuce, infamy becomes fame
A nail-biter becomes a rout
Barely clears the wall becomes no doubt,
But when the last of a Dodger 6-4 victory was secured
Saved by the red-headed, Landers-sister-dating Neidenfuer
(But Judy, not Audrey, my personal amor)
And as Helen Dell at the Dodger organ played
Others filed out quickly while we hung and stayed.
Then the Mormon kids in the row behind us spazz’d
So stoked to have room they were spasmically jazz’d.
The one boy (of the six) was dancing like Astaire
When he tripped and fell hard and forward right where
The orange numbered bleacher back was waiting
And while some opposing fans were still hating
On my main man Franklin Stubbs
With their sore loser little nubs
The Mormon kiddie Gene Kelly
Did come crashing onto his belly
Breaking off the back of the seat
Better than a firm Pedro Guerrero cleat.
He tumlbed into our row, face first into peanut shells
And then his quite pale rotund dad yells,
“I told you not to dance around like that,
You’re as deaf as a bat.”
Then when the kid got up and left with his folks
One of my buddies gave me the pokes.
He pointed down on the ground
Where the orange bleacher back was now to be found
So I nabbed it up like a professional getter
And jammed it up under my crew-neck sweater.
(Come on, it was ’83, I probably had Top Siders on, too.)
Anyway, with a piece of stadium tucked under my clothes
Exiting surrounded and camouflaged by all my bros
I made it past security and out with my O’Malley booty
And into the parking with that incomparable souvenir of baseball beauty.
I put it on display, and I wish it’d had its own hardball elf
To dust and buff it and tend to it every day on the shelf.
But then I became old and moved away from L.A.
My shortcut to Chavez Ravine through Chinatown faded away
In my memory, and so I put away that orange seatback
And I tucked away that memory with my other youthful knick knacks:
The memory that we played the Expos that night, with Larry Parish at 3B
And Gary Carter behind the dish crouching a knee
But it’s all so faded and I’ve lost touch with my guys.
Still, those baseball heroes of childhood never lose their grand size*
(especially Terry Forster).
Some days though, usually when I hear Vin Scully
I pull that seatback out of its storage gully
And I sit and I stare at it and I ponder the baseball Zen
That let me take home Dodger Stadium bleacher seat 110.
(Non-Poetic Postscript: Upon researching this particular game, I discovered it occurred in 1985, not 1983; that the Dodgers defeated the Braves, not the Expos; and that Franklin Stubbs did not hit a home run in the game. I do, however, know with certainty that it was Mormon Family Night. Or maybe day. Ah, memory!)
You can see cartoons and other work by David Adler at his website.
Published in Atlanta Braves, Ballparks, Fans, Former Teams, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pure doggerel, Washington Nationals, Youth | Link to this poem | 2 Comments