And the beat goes on! Bruised baseballs spin past a snowy haired and sluggish me.
Two boys lope my way. My ten-year-old grandson Petey with a wrapper cradled under arm,
shows it the same reverence as a preacher clutching his Bible.
A baseball mitt plops into my lap. “Look,” screeches a pointing Petey,
“it has Brock’s name on it.” Smiling six year-old Brock pleads, “Bop, can I keep it?
Found it here,” he adds while nodding. “Looks like it needs restringing,” I say.
“See Bop, we can catch with it,” Brock demonstrates
while each glove finger goes its own way, like a spattering glass of soda.
Spindly legged Petey, a wee straw-haired version of long-legged, famed Satch of old,
and Brock, sporting tree-trunk-shaped arms like a sleeveless kindergarten-aged
variety of Crosley Field’s Klu of old, flip me a baseball missing some stitches.
It looks like Brock’s smile after a handful of renegade teeth moved in with the Tooth Fairy.
I’d considered baseball reserved for fathers and sons, and fathers and daughters.
I now enter unexpected and uncharted territory: fathers and grandsons.
An eager hop seizes my slumbering step as the boys play with the “Brock” mitt.
Petey shouts,” Over my head. Let me run for it.” Brock orders, “I wanna dive!”
What a moment ! An extra treat and a third chance to play a child’s game.
After a half century, my arm strength checked out, and shotgun throws deserted me.
Now, the Short to First throw seems as long as a toss across a cornfield.
The scent of the craggy cowhide Brock mitt opens doors to memories
of my mediocre and magical baseball past,
reminiscences of the broken-down tire-infested ball fields of my teens.
A vision of a manicured Tiger Stadium hosting its last Fantasy Camp days appears:
that gathering gifted me and Brock mitt with its truest hops.
My wrinkled, stringless, signature Lou Brock mitt disappoints,
that grainy glove in desperate need of lace and restringing.
I sprint across local ball fields, discarding aches and granting a brief furlough to old age.
These surprise games and tosses with my strung-out and ailing Brock mitt,
while catching with both my buddies, restores significance to my seasoned afternoons.
I assure them that once the glove gets its “second stringing”
the legendary mitt goes to Brock because of the shared name.
Both boys appear to leap higher than dance contestants on contrived televised competitions,
and I dream that the great Lou Brock’s skills will miraculously rub off on these children of my clan.