At the end of last school year, my ten-year-old daughter had been given a ticket to a ballgame in Burlington, so we went yesterday. She had never been to a game before, and she loved the foot-long hot dog, the stadium lights, the mascot: the whole thing. We had front row seats, and settled into the length of that leisurely game. My older daughter asked what was up with baseball and the “American pastime thing,” and we spoofed on that, enjoying the evening.
Night came in, and I kept thinking it would rain. Dark clouds bulked up, a gorgeous bruise behind the nearby airport’s jets. Neither team scored until later in the game, and as the home team–the Lake Monsters–appeared on the losing end, the crowd began filtering out. At the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs, I told the girls the home team could win if the batter hit a home run.
That’s not going to happen, my older girl said.
The last ball–hit with a crack–seemed to hover far above the stadium, like a gull steadily winging its way out to sea, before it was swallowed up in the night. My younger daughter went wild. I hadn’t realized how much she had wanted Lake Monsters to win. As we walked along the shadowy street to our car, I saw her smiling face moving in and out of the street and window lights, laughing.
All the way home, driving in the late night, I thought of that ball, lit stark white by the immense stadium lights, heading out and away from us, into some child’s hand, perhaps, tomorrow. How American is that, to track statistics and averages, argue this player’s merits over that one’s, and yet to believe in the beauty and happenstance where luck meets skill, and to admire that stroke.
The day she was given the game ticket, my daughter turned it over and over in her hand, not yet sure what it meant. This morning, she left for a few days to visit her grandparents, that ticket now morphed into a green and blue baseball she was given last night. From ticket to baseball, there’s that white, high-flying ball, the sweet story of surprise success she couldn’t wait to tell her grandfather.
Fanaticism?No.Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either
how it will go
or what you will do…
–– Marianne Moore