Your Baseball Days

By Stuart Shea

When was the last time you ran barefoot in the grass?
When was the last time you even threw a baseball?

Roll your fingers over the seams.
Try a fingertip knuckleball.
Pound your glove.

Think of your baseball days, before OPS and Direct TV
When you’d play all day until the sun went down
And even then you’d switch to ‘running bases,’ tossing the ball under the misty summer lamplight.
While other kids ran
And millions of bugs headed toward the bright.
And when everyone goes in for the night,
See if the Cubs game is still on.

They’re in Pittsburgh, blowing another lead in the ninth.
Jack Brickhouse is moaning. The bullpen crumbles.
And when it’s all over, and you’re exhausted with frustration
At Dave LaRoche and Oscar Zamora,
You realize there’s another game tomorrow, both for you and the big boys.

You knew NOTHING of the world at 12. But you knew baseball, and that’s what counted.
The game was an escape, a separate world with its own set of rules, a prism through which to look at your existence.
Organized rules, hope, glory, sunshine, and action.
Nothing like your own, seemingly arbitrary, life.
Which is why you needed it.

You’ll always need it to bring you back to joy, to freedom, to your own self.
For that skinny 12-year-old just begging for acceptance, begging to just be good enough at something.
And the game gave you hope.
So turn off the TV, the computer, the instant updates on your device
And play catch.
Just play catch.

It’s nice.

Published in Chicago Cubs, Chicago Cubs, Free Verse, Pittsburgh Pirates, Stu Shea | Link to this poem | No Comments

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