Faded Cap

I am sure every neighborhood had one guy everyone would talk about. “See him,” they would say, “he could ave been one of the great ones if it wasn’t for…” then they would fill in the blanks. It might have been the war, an injury or some bad choices. “He coulda been great.”

In my neighborhood baseball was the chosen sport of just about every kid. Being younger, we had to wait till the older guys were finished with the field to play, or play on a revised field with shorter fences, and closer bases, everything scaled down. It still was exciting for us. The only time we would stop playing was when Patty was on the field. He could run faster, throw harder, and hit farther than everyone else. We were in awe of him, all of us, even his peers. Even as a kid I admired the way he played the game, never showing off, always relaxed, never rattled. He just loved the game he played so well.

He did not play the rest of life so well however. The lure of drugs was too great for him. The streets were his hang out when he wasn’t on the field. He wasn’t so sure of himself without a glove or a bat. His peers became his idols. Their sins became his. Patty, he coulda been great.

Wiping what he told himself was dust from his eye
Stopping at the ball field he let out a sigh
The images from the past appeared in black and white
Like a newsreel his passion unfolded, his heart ached at the sight
The game he loved so much, now just a memory
The newsreel helped him to remember and lighten his misery
Reaching into the bag he had laid at his side
Pulled out a baseball, donned his faded cap with pride
From the mound hurled a fastball, it rocketed towards the plate
What once was clocked at ninety, now was thirty-eight
Pickimg up his cap, brushed the gray hair back  from his face
“Still got it,” he smiled, walking slow ly from his hallowed place.

– niz

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