Papa, Telling of his Red Sox Days

by Mike Jewett


I keep the baseball in his
antique bookcase,
the one I always saw
signatures on-
Maybe Pesky, Doerr, DiMaggio
(Dom of course),
never considering it
could be The Kid,
The Splendid Splinter.

Seeing the moment frozen
in time: Dorchester, midcatch,
photo next to the lamb card
on the mantle.
Faded, diamond blending with pants
in whitewash, thin
black belt to contrast thin
man, hand over his mitt,
ball in good hands.

I tried tracking down
the baseball card,
his stats, printed out so kids could put
one of the greatest teams
in history into their spokes.

Even before dementia ravaged
his brain, forced him to lock
up in the tiny bathroom,
shower running and in his
skivvies, medicinal arsenic
tincture in the medicine
cabinet, I’d break in to bathe
the shell of him, screaming at me,
God damn it! I’m clean! God damn it!
when he never really washed at all.
But no matter.

Even before the ravage,
he spoke of chewing
tobacco with Williams.
He came to the park to
play ball with us.
Not Teddy Ballgame, of course.

Anticipation- oh you
could smell it, someone
who maybe played
with The Babe, 714 home runs!

I wait for the pitch.
Wind up.
Arms tense, legs taut.

When a child realizes heroes
are nothing more than
clouds, disappointment raining
down their cheeks–

A pulled muscle.
He hobbled across the
field of dreams and
field of nightmares towards
home, head hung like a noose.

The leather ball
gathers no moss,
gathered no autographs.
The card, a hobby store
owner said to
me, didn’t exist. Not
on any team roster,
no silver nitrate prints with
smiling players, worried
about the war;
his silver WWII bracelet jangling
on my wrist to remind me
he’s human; he’s gone;
to remind me he never really was
a Red Sox player.


2 thoughts on “Papa, Telling of his Red Sox Days

  1. It was difficult to write Claudia but it’s been in my head for years. I see that baseball and the photograph every day. I think about it a lot. Thanks for your kind words.

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