When he was twelve, my son was practicing
On our Spring Valley field as he prepared
For that year’s Little League All-star game.
He was at shortstop, for no good reason.
He was a pitcher, outfielder
And threw left-handed! If you ask
Who were all the lefty throwing shortstops
In the history of the Major Leagues,
It won’t take very long to say their names,
And rest assured you never heard of them.
So why was he positioned between second and third?
I’ll tell you this: it would be the only time,
And when the coach’s batted ball
Crashed into his nose and smashed it,
And we rushed him to the hospital and surgery,
That was the end of his Little League career.
A few weeks later, his bandages removed and a fading memory,
He and I were taking turns hitting fly balls
To each other. I, without my righty mitt,
Borrowed his southpaw glove. He sent
A fly, a can of corn, they call it, in my direction.
I moved so gracefully, now well positioned,
As smooth as the Yankee Clipper many times had glided to the ball.
I pounded my unaccustomed mitt, waiting
For the ball to make its predicted descent.
It came down in the direction of my glove and hand
And landed … on my nose! A clean break!
I’d left a space between my gloved hand and the other.
I soon wore the family bandage and as we
Gazed at each other, my son and I just mumbled,
“Father!” — “Son!”
I know that baseball strengthens relationships,
As it did ours, through playing and by rooting for the same team,
But you’ll understand it if I tell you now,
I wish the process had been a bit less painful.