At the Metrodome in the late 80s,
a small crowd showed up for the game
between the Yankees and Twins,
a pair of also-rans that year.
Wheelchairs were commonplace
and an entrance sign read that
the handicapped would be honored
on that weekday afternoon.
I sat in the stands between home plate
and first base and to my left a group of five
was sporting Iowa T shirts and caps –
two adult men, two boys in their early teens,
probably their sons, and an older man
who could pass as the grandfather,
missing two fingers of his right hand.
Before the game began seven men,
including two with Down’s Syndrome,
sat directly in front of me,
flanked by a male and female attendant.
A few innings into the contest,
the batter hit a foul pop-up
which bounced in the nearby aisle
and caromed toward the Iowans –
a lad of theirs leaped up,
caught the ball and held it high
to show the fans nearby.
A man in the disabled group
extended his palm and said, “ball.”
The lucky boy assumed he wanted to admire
the prize and handed it to him –
he turned and hurled the souvenir
back onto the playing field.
“Oh, no!” the male attendant yelled,
and as if prepared for such contingencies,
reached into his jacket and removed
a shiny baseball which was passed along
and given to the crestfallen son
who had just lost his memento.
One Hawkeye father rose,
approached the guilty party,
and lest there be disbelievers,
zoomed in with his camera, took one
and then another picture of the man,
bent forward, hands covering his face.