Tony Gloeggler

My friends complain sixty games is not
a real baseball season, they miss the sound
of the crowd, whine about overpaid players
while so many millions are out of work,
growing hungry, the crime of placing
a runner on second base to start every
extra inning. But when I turn on the Met-
Yankee exhibition game, hear the ball punch
the catcher’s mitt, bat meet ball, it’s baseball.
I’m in Grandpa’s backyard, a five year old
crippled kid with a steel brace on one leg,
a Frankenstein boot on the other. My father
and him take fifteen minute shifts pitching
whiffle ball to me. Thin plastic bat a few inches
off my shoulder, no stride, I thwack line drive
after line drive, smile when one just misses
their heads. At seven, after crutches, physical
therapy three times a week, Dad takes me
to his Sunday softball doubleheaders instead
of Mass. I learn to keep score. Between games,
I play the field, center or short, his teammates
yelling to give the kid a break as Dad stands
at the plate smacking the ball, expecting me
to handle everything that comes my way,
his friends cheering, clapping as the ball
settles into my glove. I’m twelve, standing
on the mound, fondling the ball, believing
if I throw it as hard as I can, find that high
inside slot, I’m certain with the only true
faith I’ve ever possessed, that no batter
could ever touch it. The girl I like sits
in the tinny bleachers behind the dugout,
early Saturday morning curlers rolled
in her hair, talking to friends, glancing
at the game. After, she touches my arm,
says you sure were good out there today,
walks with me. I want to believe she means
something entirely different. Tonight
it’s Scherzer vs Cole. Forget Covid, Netflix,
Facebook, Youtube, Pornhub, reading,
writing, anthems, taking a knee, or not.

Play Ball.

TONY GLOEGGLER is a life long resident of NYC who’s managed a group home for developmentally disabled men for 40 years. His first full-length collection, One Wish Left, published by Pavement Saw Press went into a 2nd printing in 2007. Until The Last Light Leaves, published by NYQ Books, was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award in 2016. NYQ Books released his new book What Kind of Man in June of 2020.