Unexpectedly trapped and smothered by the invisible tentacles of the bullying virus,

my hours turned to days, my days twisted into weeks, my weeks twirled into months.

My Sunshine State’s emerald freshly shaved grasses resurrected memories of the boy me and baseball.

My children, former” let’s play catch mates,”all grown and settled in distant pastures.

My gazelle-like grandkids seek sanctuary in a hug-free zones.

Today, I strolled into a busy park behind a parade of toothy walkers,

witnessed illegal games of possibly forbidden contact like croquet,

other operatic park time participants stretched out, strewn across the wiry grass blanket.

I started tossing my grandson’s gift of his MVP baseball skyward and dizzily attempted to catch it,

looking like a drunken Pagliacci on a skateboard.

The passage of three quarters of a century, has a way of obstructing catching one’s own pop-ups.

The height of my pop-up tosses?

My grandson now slaps a basketball backboard higher than my recently evolved chicken-armed tosses.

Springtime’s sunny sky, and its seasonal scent continue tantalizing me about my summer game.

My TV offered a Korean baseball game where home runs rocketed out of the ballpark as frequently as Fourth of July fireworks poked Disney’s skies.

My mouth agape, I realized that it’s never too late to revisit the Brooklyn childhood of my youth.

On my big screen, I glared at the bandbox ballpark, so reminiscent of Flatbush’s Ebbets Field.

Players with hieroglyphic-like and short Eastern World names hustled with abandon yet none journeyed thru my record books like Ruth, Robinson, or Rivera.

Posters of fans occupied seats and remarkably piped-in sounds screamed from soulless stands.

Vin Scully’s words came to mind,” The roar of the crowd has always been the sweetest music.”

Cheerleaders tangoed atop dugouts echoing in the empty stadium.

I increased the television’s volume, only to hear American announcers, oceans away from the playing field broadcasting play-by-play.

I raised my brows and grinned in admiration of their pronunciation of the Korean names,  simultaneously applauding the rhythmic movements of players prancing thru their melodic meadows.

I pursed my lips when these broadcasters decided to pontificate about the virus.

Doctors now, I wondered?

Don’t they realize that reason I searched for Korean baseball was to escape countless media experts lecturing about the plague.

My remote’s mute mode came to the rescue and solved the problem.

I’d learned America’s game from immortals watching Mel Allen, Vince Scully, and Red Barber on my Frisbee-sized and -shaped television .

I supplied my own play-by-play. The time to simulate big league baseball in my den arrived.

Immediately, I decided to replicate a sample of steamy major league baseball that I’d grown to love.

Vicariously, in my den, I shuttled bags brimming with necessary treats.

I set up card table in front of my garage-door-wide TV.

I piled peanuts, bags of popcorn (Cracker Jacks unavailable), ruler-length hotdogs that suffocated under mounds of sauerkraut, and seas of mustard.

I took Ruthian bites when gulping elusive segments of lengthy frankfurters.

I waited for the play ball call by masked umpires who resembled the Lone Ranger while munching on my peanuts, and popcorn.

My treats rained floorward.

I  noticed something and scrambled toward my serving table.

I stretched, grabbed and twisted  a premium beer bottle staring at me, hoping to camouflage its name.

The label of that tasty brew reminded me of the virus that I hoped to forget.

Food blanketed the table.

Popcorn, peanuts, and sauerkraut continued colonizing areas of my rug.

Unlike my USA ballparks, the beer in my den proved less expensive than a latte, mocha, or frappuccino.

Grinning, I asked my bride to toss a bag of peanuts my way, and readied my phantom tip.

Her rolling azure eyes look forced my immediate retreat on the matter.

 Anyway, my taste buds partied that afternoon.

The ballgame entertained, not the Yanks or Dodgers, but sweaty athletes sporting superb fundamentals.

One shoddy living room later, my slumber ended when the TV mysteriously unmuted and shrieked about another baseball blast into an ocean of empty outfield seats.

Enthusiastic players, the Korean ballpark boasting its international debut appearing as dressed  as elegantly as a dapper royal groom.

The aroma wafting in my den delivered the same mouthwatering feeling felt at major league games. A swell of joy surrounding my relishing an impeccably manicured field.  My at-home air seemed to shimmer.

An aura of disappointment invaded my space when I realized that Scully meant live crowds and canned sounds failed me.

I lamented the fate of legendary lonely ball fields in the USA.

They sat voiceless and abandoned, and missing their traditional Memorial Day games.

I thought, “Any port in a storm and any ballpark during a pandemic,” while the stateside tune, “take me out to the ballgame” haunted me.