On lazy summer Brooklyn afternoons
when trickles of sweat moseyed down my tomato-tinted cheeks,
the ten year-old me, as scrawny as a bamboo stick, snatched our family’s pock marked alabaster radio and kicked a plastic coated-chair aside like a Camp Pendleton Marine in basic training.
I clawed under our Formica table and plugged life into that radio.
I spread out DiMaggio, Mantle, and Robinson baseball cards on the spotty tile floor.
After twirling the dials, crackling sounds shrieked.
Squinting, I smiled when the hissing static-like verbal graffiti finally fled my modest private box.
Radio relaxed, I suddenly felt immersed in a baseball Shangri-La.
The velveteen voices of broadcast Boys of Summer Red Barber, Mel Allen, and Vince Scully
welcomed me and infused poetry into my kitchen.
I pretended to be Red Barber copying baseball tales in his soothing Mississippi drawl.
I copied that Old Redhead, while learning about “catbird seats,”
and baseball’s lazy fly balls he labeled, “cans of corn.”
The words of Mel Allen, brilliant raconteur from Alabama paraded across my mind.
His” Ballantine Blasts” and “how about that?” proclamations echoed under that table.
My crayon on steroids served as a “make believe” microphone.
Other times, I mimicked another redhead, a young Fordham graduate, Vince Scully.
He chanted about “high drives to deep left,” and “way back.”
These word wizards made me sense the smell of fresh-cut grass during broadcasts.
My Formica classroom flourished under the table.
It proved so different from my local school not crowded with blackboards, chalk powder,
and teacher-held yardsticks swerving with the flair of baseball bats tapping my shoulders.
A child of immigrants, baseball announcers served as my boys of summer
deftly lecturing me in articulate English when describing my treasured game.
They created memories of the immortal Robinson dancing on first base
and DiMaggio gracefully moving like a gazelle in spacious center field.
These men painted word portraits delivered by its invisible conductor called radio.
Their daily baseball tapestries awed me.
These three word wizards taught language lessons in gift-wrapped linguistic suitcases,
packed with baseball dreams, embraced by their melodious lyric of English.
…and it all began with “the crack of the bat.”