Last Sunday during our weekly pick-up baseball game,
A very old man sat behind the chainlink backstop,
His skinny body shirtless,
Headphones over his ears,
Hunched over a book seriously, writing.
“Is he keeping the score of our game?” we whisperingly speculated, flattering ourselves.
The week before, the old man had actually ventured out on the field in baggy shorts, with a large mitt.
Shagged a few balls in the outfield, then started taking warm-up swings, with the bat.
Ropes and pulleys—but ropes and pulleys that remembered how.
Finally, wordlessly, he stepped to the plate.
Our pitcher threw to him gently.
He connected with a few.
In left field, I chuckled to myself that Honus Wagner had joined us today.
But this week, the old man’s forearms were bruised, up and down, apparently from the impact.
So he sat by the backstop, working what turned out to be his crossword puzzle, for a couple of hours,
Seemingly happier to be near the game he can no longer play, than away.
I hope he understood he made us happy, too.
We, in the sixth or seventh inning, ourselves.