Full moon over centerfield on a July night.
A slow rolling freight train blows its horn
behind the right field fence,
while a warm summer breeze blows
the American flag, illuminated in a bank of lights.
A full stadium stands to sing
“The National Anthem” and later
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
After the game, fireworks,
then the lights come back up
and all of the kids race around the bases.
During the game, crazy competitions
presented by the team’s sponsors
at intermission: relay racing with a loaf of bread
for a baton, bowling at pins in the batters’ circles,
a sack hopping race to the coaches’ boxes,
dance competitions where the dog always wins.
Who can yell the loudest and longest for a free pizza?
Scream louder for a free T-shirt from the yogurt parlour!
Little “K,” small in body, but enormous in spirit,
keeps track of the strikeouts on a wall
behind the third base dugout,
while mascot Mack the Knight high-fives
all of the fans he passes on the concourse.
At the end, if we’ve won or gotten ten strikeouts
or a double or triple or thrown a shutout,
there are free coupons for French fries and donuts and tacos.
Always on the back of ticket stubs, there are
discounts on pizzas and hero sandwiches.
But the real heroes – the ones we came to see –
are the ones on the field, wielding bats and gloves.
They play with their hearts for the love of the game,
just as generations of baseball players have done before them.
And for all the hoopla and fun,
amidst all the promotions and distractions,
we are watching them.