I was lover of the pinstripes when I attended
My first public school. Watching them on TV, I
Was mesmerized by the class they stood for
Though, being but a rookie fanatic, I could not
Put into words the vicarious pride I felt when
Those Yankees took the field or stepped up
To the plate. I worshiped them in the way that
Baseball is a pro’s religion. They were the
Prophets who, by their championship play,
Foretold that every season, from 1949 to
1953, would see them crowned winner of
The treasured and revered Series crown.
I looked for ways to become one with them,
Practicing my Mickey Mantle stance and
Swing, or my Whitey Ford delivery, even
Fantasizing dragging a bunt and beating
It out or stealing second or making that
Great game-winning final catch. I wore
My white muscle shirt, the one with the
Black crayon stripes drawn in the front
And the Number 7 in the back. I too
Wore a uniform of sorts at my sixth
Grade school, a neat daily outfit plus a
White plastic stripe around my waist
And across my front diagonally, a
Metallic silver shield attached and
Centered so that other kids could see
That I was proudly a member of the
Safety Squad which protected them
From cars as they crossed the street
And gingerly marched into the school.
Then, one day that year, my two worlds
Intersected as my squad was taken to
The not so old Yankee Stadium, 14 years
Removed form Gehrig’s final play, to watch
My heroes in real time. The night before,
I’d panicked in my fear that the game
Would be rained out, but the sun arose
And there we were, hoping our sight
Would not be encumbered by a support
Beam — and they weren’t. Instead, I
Was reminded of the limitations of my
Black and white TV as I stared, then
Glared, at the canvas I was facing:
Reddish turf warning track that framed
The field, light brown pitcher’s mound
And that grass, so well-manicured, so
Deeply verdant that I could almost
Taste the aroma of the blades, the
Bright white foul lines and bases,
The polychrome of the fans’ clothing
And the sharp black / white contrast of those
Yankee uniforms! Most of all, I could clearly see
The expressions on the faces of my heroes! And
Those visages were holding conversations with
Their fans, sharing hopes and aspirations,
Transmitting to their boosters a partnership
Unbreakable. And the stands vibrated in response.
This was truly one Special Day!