Old -Timer’s Day

Yes, I know about those very special days when
Retired players are marched onto the field in glory, to call forth
Memories of wondrous games and performances of the perfect past.
In fact, my Mets last year had one of those glory days
For the first time in more than two decades and don’t ask me why
It took so long, but thank goodness I was able to see
Some of my original Mets, bless them — even Frank Thomas,
Who was a genuine power hitter the first three years of their existence
(Someone they can use right now),
A gentle man who recently passed away.
When I was a Yankee fan, I remember my early special celebrations,
When Joe Di Maggio, retired after the 1951 season, appeared again in uniform,
And walked gracefully to the foul line where other Yanks, great and
Not so great, were waiting proudly and applauding. Joe never played in those
Abbreviated games the old-timers enjoyed (as did the fans), because
His pride would not allow him to engage in any game
Now that his prime had bowed down to Father Time.

But it’s not those wonderful memory games that I am pushing for;
They do not need my efforts. They stand alone and will go on
As a tribute to the players of the past, a kind of living history.
I am suggesting a different kind of Old-Timer’s Day,
One that honors fans that have followed teams and the sport
For years and years, who have given of their hearts and
Helped pay the salaries of all those players with their non-athletic
Labor and their efforts and who have nourished the sport
By passing on to their descendants the love of The Show.
Surely, those who love the game and cheer the players
(And sometimes boo, but out of love and real respect)
Deserve their own Old-Timer’s Day, when those whom
They support stand up in their brilliant uniforms and
Bring their hands together and even cheer for all those oldsters
Who have loved them for so many years, most of which
Came to an end too soon. There’s justice
In this turn-around respect, too long ignored, and
For those of us rounding third and heading home
In this game of Life, the time has come for baseball
To show appreciation to the chorus that backs up
The performance of the stars who play their music
With their bats or gloves or feet or arms.
If a ball is hit and lands in empty stands and there is no applause,
Did it really happen?