My boy powers a line drive through the gap just about every time. Claims he does it by not caring, taking easy swings. Me, I spray the ball to every corner of the park, fair, foul, screamers into the dugout that keep my teammates on their toes. That’s what comes from swinging for the fences. Not content to put the ball in play, I want to rocket one out of reach with every at-bat. Look at him, number eleven like his old man, watching the ball into the catcher’s mitt, so patient, his whole life ahead of him, he’ll take three strikes looking if they’re not just where he wants them. I’d still be single with that attitude, but the game is easy for him. There’s no better place than the field of play when the sun spanks the grass green and my boy’s hittin’em hard, but I will do two things at once, watch from the bleachers and write on my laptop, here but elsewhere. Tap-tap. My characters take the field according to my lineup. Siblings are at double-play depth, distant relatives left and right, everyone’s focused on home. Tap-tap. Dad on the mound faces son at the plate, eleven senior on eleven. He shakes off signals and talks into his mitt until nobody knows whether to play shallow or deep, all the while reveling with misty nostalgia on the merits of the game, the game. Tap-tap. A word of advice rings in the batter’s head, quiet but clear as if a ballpark full of people had whispered it together: (bunt). Everyone looks at me as if I’d said it out loud. My son shrugs just one shoulder, like shaking off a sign, takes another strike, and wonders whether what he does next will be of any consequence.

Copyright © February 27, 2007 David Hodges