On National Ave. the Clement Zablocki Veteran's Memorial Hospital overlooks the autumn woods and steel girders of Miller Park; silver-golden fireworks as loud as a drop forge echo on through the timelessness and style and swagger of sweet victory.
Again, the sweat of passion, reserved for October, when it was 1957. The hickory sea of painted chairs in the Milwaukee County Stadium are history now, and the dome of Miller Park can hold back the night rain or yawn wide like an observatory to heaven. Over the haloed fusion of stadium lights there again it's 1982, by then the boy watched it all far below the Uecker seats, almost on the field, the numbers and names and even the team had changed faster than 25 years all compressed tighter than a horsehide seamed with red stitches--high and inside. Holy cow, get the net and cast it on these memories: on over the Kiplingesque-Kafkanian-Keoroacian transfiguration--blink again a lonely face reflected on the bus window--home again whatshisname and number? As darkness pans to fade the solemnity and supercilious bursts of euphoria; what it means to me to have had a glimpse of Willie Mays when he hit four home runs on that Sunday, impossibly we all stood, "No it's four!" the game lost as history before mine eyes, Say-Hey the enchantments went, once upon a time Willie McCovey hit one over the scoreboard, and once Earl Gillespie said, " Willie McCovey (excellent crowd mic, tumultuous ovation) just hit the scoreboard and you could hear it . . .echo!
Years earlier, the Cardinals arrived and it was Andy Pafko (summersaulting gosh darnit) at full speed in from centerfield just behind second base, coming up face first with the ball and back to his feet he held it above like a jeweler’s eye might apprise an awesome precious stone.
Geez, the smiles of that uncle from out of town on vacation and my old man looking at me, wow, my eyes so wide, good graciousness--bopalouowhoa: life! Coca-cola on a rayon black and red Milwaukee Braves jacket, the cap not sized! Or that time Wes Covington jumped so high and nabbed it at the yellow rail topped wall, even though his ankle broke.
Close line homers and ‘it’s in the wrists’ they'd say of Mr.Henry Aaron.
And from the right field extension the boys yelled, "Henry! Henry!" Until Hammerin' Hank Aaron would finally glance once between pitches--on 3:30'd long-shadowed afternoons--and subtly almost secretly he’d wave in our direction, his great glove paused on his knee, his eyes would somehow acknowledge us keeds but always on the batter.
And there were a Red Schoendist's pivot and leapt throws above second base after the falling over soft toss from only one Johnny Logan as though simultaneously and likeoneword it was over to Big Joe Adcock at first base with that spiked shoe tippy-toe stretch: doubleplay!
Or as Eddie Mathews' glove puffed the dust from the third base bag, another line shot to a Gold Glove who'd a gift to knock one out especially if men were on--far away up and out way-wayouta here 'bout halfway up the left field bleachers.
I don't remember if we always won, but there was never a losing day.
While on a summer's morning the boys carried their own gloves off the bus and joked along those asphalt trails beneath the trees in Veterans Park; when the sheriff in his patrol squad motioned them over; NOW WHAT? "Do you boys have tickets? Here, take these, here, they're good seats...." though years later you'd know there ain't no bad seats. And you'd reflect now if even after 55 years how over that rise some parkscape architect would angle the walking path just in time to break 'ore a panorama of white crossed grave markers with a perceptible grace and awful foresight to allow for cemetary expansion up, over the next hill and the one afar. Batting practice viewing and timed arrival were obligatory, and you didn't need a scorecard because you always knew all dem players and even now remain on-ah side of all that's sacred of the moment, to snap your fist thumbs up and time the yell, Play ball!