The resurrection of my personal love of the game of baseball dates back to the summer of 1993, the 4th of July, to be exact. My eight-year old son Neal and I had walked from home to an abandoned school yard that then existed near our house to bat and throw the ball around for an hour in the late morning light. It was beautiful. The visual wisp of purple wild flowers sprouting everywhere still covers the canvas of my memory of the baseball sounds and cries of childhood delight that filled air the kind of summer fun that used to pepper the sandlot days of my own early times in Pecan Park over in the Houston east end. I held on to that feeling that I once feared had been lost forever. My only son had come along late, but just in time to help me find it again on this new and nearby field of dreams.
On the walk home, I spied what appeared to be an old baseball in the tall weeds. It turned out be only the cover of an old ball that had been tightly ensnared in the wild overgrowth some time in the past. Still, I pulled it free and carried it home with me.
“What are you going to do with that old thing, Daddy?” Neal asked.
“I have no idea,” I answered.
When we got home, I placed the ancient baseball cover on the kitchen table and sat down with it and my writing notebook. In ten minutes time, “The Pecan Park Eagle” had written itself. As the “writer,” I was only the cardiovascular vessel that carried the rushing blood of its own life. In time, of course, it became the signature reason behind the name and purpose of this blog column. So, I drag it out every now and then, usually around July 4th, for those who have never seen it before.
Have a nice week, everybody – and keep your spirits soaring high.
The Pecan Park Eagle By Bill McCurdy (1993)
Ode To An Old Baseball Cover I Found While
Playing Catch with My 8-Year Old Son Neal
In An Abandoned School Yard.
Tattered friend, I found you again,
Laying flat in a field of yesterday’s hope.
Your resting place? An abandoned schoolyard.
When parents move away, the children go too.
How long have you been here,
Strangling in the entanglement of your grassy grave,
Bleaching your brown-ness in the summer sun,
Freezing your frailness in the ice of winter?
How long, old friend, how long?
Your magical essence exploded from you long ago.
God only knows when.
Perhaps, it was the result of one last grand slam.
One last grand slam, a solitary cherishment,
Now remembered only by the doer of that distant past deed.
Only the executioner long remembers the little triumphs.
The rest of the world never knows, or else, soon forgets.
I recovered you today from your ancient tomb,
From your place near the crunching sound of my footsteps.
I pulled you from your enmeshment in the dying July grass,
And I wanted to take you home with me.
Oh, would that the warm winds of spring might call us,
One more time, awakening our souls in green renewal
To that visceral awareness of hope and possibility.
To soar once more in spirit, like the Pecan Park Eagle,
High above the billowing clouds of a summer morning,
In flight destiny – to all that is bright and beautiful.
There is a special consolation in this melancholy reunion.
Because you once held a larger world within you,
I found a larger world in me.
Come home with me, my friend,