Raymond the Pretzel Man sold those delicious soft large pretzels
For five cents each day on the same cold corner of the City College,
Which stretched ten city blocks, building after building,
Each devoted to a single subject area, each filled with hungry
College students there to satisfy their minds, their dreams,
And their hungry stomachs. (I saw his car one time, the seats
Weighed down with the day’s goodies waiting for their turn, all
For five cents — still cheap, even in the early ‘60’s.
Then one day I went to the ancient Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan,
Bordered by the Harlem River, a field once home to young Willie Mays and
Monty Irvin and Whitey Lockman, Bobbie Thomson (hitter of
“The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in 1951, the homer which won
That year’s NL pennant — and the rest of the New York Giants
(Before their owner ran away to San Francisco, not man enough to face the
New York crowd anymore), leaving the old park to offer sanctuary
To the fledgling Metropolitans and their newborn hungry crowd of fans.
I came by elevated and strolled the sidewalk that surrounded the stadium,
Edging toward the entrance for my upper deck seat overlooking
The first base foul line — when suddenly I smelled familiarity;
I gazed in the direction of that unrefined culinary aroma and sure enough,
There, hawking his goods, was Raymond the Pretzel Man, but
There was a difference: in deference to the hungry baseball clientele,
Raymond — always the businessman — was selling those very same wonderful
Culinary treats not for a Chaucer student level of a nickel
But for the inflated price five times that: two bits! A quarter! Twenty-five cents!
Each! Too much for my taste — and so I went without,
And went inside and watched my team try oh so hard
Before they fell. There were no Willie Mays heroics that day;
Neither was there a delicious soft but giant (excuse the pun) pretzel.
It’s sad. I went to see a baseball game . . . and what I recall most
Is being disappointed by a businessman — but then again
Any baseball fan understands, especially if you follow a team
That struggles and you know exactly what to do to fix it
But who can you talk to and convince to make the deal,
To change the batting order, to switch the lineup or the fielders?
Baseball is a business . . . I know that’s true but
Tell that to my heart.