In Which The Kitten Pitches Into The Thirteenth

If you saw his picture after that, you saw the smile;

Not that of a man basking in the joys

Of over a decade in The Show, or taking well-earned satisfaction

From having reached the top of his ten-inch mountain

With the two-foot rubber slab,

But, rather, the wan residue of resignation,

The embodiment of the knowledge

That there was always something else out there just a half-step out of reach,

That vague intuition that the arbiter’s shoulders may twitch,

But he would never raise his right hand

And ring up that final, all-important third strike.

 

It was cold in Milwaukee that night, a reminder to all involved

That real summer would have to wait a while longer,

But in Montmorenci Falls, it was warm as July,

And thunder walked about and grumbled until well past midnight,

As if Rip Van Winkle had, in the process of wandering westward,

Not heard the shouts of “last call” and, as such, failed to call it an evening.

My mother stayed glued to the radio from the first pitch

Until the bitter, incomprehensible end,

Nervously ironing every piece of linen and pair of underwear we owned

(A feat requiring no small measure of courage,

Given the uncertain vintage and quality of the wiring

And fuses in our rented home.) The end came swiftly, unbelievably;

First Tiger Hoak’s bobble, Adcock’s blast, Aaron and Mantilla

Doing their best Stan-and-Ollie imitation on the basepaths.

She would live through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the death of JFK,

A man on the moon, a president stepping down in shame and disgrace;

All these, in time, being no more to her than pictures in the paper

And words on the page, but to this very day, she can re-create

In the most minute detail how the lightning danced around the house

Like animated skeletons in the cartoons they showed

Between features at the old Rialto in Montmorenci Falls,

And how the voice of Bob Prince, then at the full height of his powers,

Crescendoed and the fell silent like an orchestra’s tune-up

As Dick Stuart’s long fly in the tenth fell just short of the wall,

As our most heroic dreams so often will, into Bill Bruton’s waiting glove.

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2 thoughts on “In Which The Kitten Pitches Into The Thirteenth

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