Tuesday, April 01, 2014

An old man and a baseball

Have you ever seen an older man handle a baseball? His hands are wrinkled and weathered almost to leather—the kind of man who played baseball in his younger years stayed outside sans lotion through his 60s. He gently rotates the sphere in his hand seamlessly moving to his favorite pitches: some spin to the two-seam fastball others to the four-seam fastball. Junkball pitchers slide to their finger position for a curve or drop ball. He had a short-term infatuation with a knuckleball, and remembers the heartache of the pitch. His hands are gentle with the toy, neither crushing it nor letting it fall. His wrists become light, rocking the ball back and forth as he mimics releasing a pitch.

His hands caress the ball like a young lover's breast. His eyes, with his heart, look into the sphere like Adam looks at the gates of Eden. His thoughts cycle through his memories with his father, his friends, and his arch-nemesis. Every game is remembered; every homerun was proud jog around the bases; every strikeout pitch is enjoyed.

Then, he recollects his eviction from the game. The day life took over and he had to quit, by his choice or not, the game he'd loved. The day he started having pain in his elbow, the day someone was a better hitter, the day he started working in a steel mill, his 1st year anniversary with his wife, or the birth of his second child. Remembering that breakup with baseball is emotional enough for him to hand the ball to a child.

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