Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Ballgame (Blogophilia 27.7)
The sun bore down the worn wooden bleachers. The large, older man groaned and rubbed his thighs uncomfortably. Walter Murray was here to see his grandson play T-ball for the first time this season. The first three Saturday mornings he had to work. And he was happy not to think of dead people and grieving victims. Swiping a stained handkerchief across his shaved head, he looked around.
A group of parents sat to his left. The parents for the opposing team sat on the other side of the backstop. A gaggle of girls had gathered behind the fence on the first base side to play zoo with some toy animals. They would march the menagerie up one side and down the other. One girl deliberately turned a zebra into a bush and screamed it was lost. And all the other animals rushed into the imaginary forest to find it. A small bit of string found and was used as a rope to pull it to safety. Hooray!
Best Friend Park hadn’t changed much since he coached his sons twenty years ago. The copper infield was smooth as glass and the emerald turf immaculate thanks to Old Man Johnson. Johnson took care of the field back then, when life was simpler. Working with the boys made him think of the street kids he dealt with on patrol. Bored and looking for something to do, they usually found trouble. Most needed strong adults and there just weren’t any for them. He managed to get a few interested in the Police Athletic League but he couldn’t save them all.
Faces, both white and black, reflected in the faces of the children here on the field.
He loved being a detective. No two cases were the same. But Homicide was another animal. At least when he was with Robbery or Major Crimes, the shifts were consistent. Coaching ball and playing with his kids was possible. Homicide was a 24/7 on call position. When Friday night’s damage was found early Saturday morning, his world stopped and he had to deal with everyone else’s issues. It was like being Batman, but without the cool tools. Mornings like this reminded him of what was missing in the civilized world.
The grandson, Little Wally sat on the bench in front of him, playing with a blade of grass, sandy brown curls blowing in the breeze. He looked so much like his father at that age, not an ounce of fat. He was a bundle of energy bounding from place to place, white uniform hanging off thin shoulders. The kid didn’t always pay attention, but he did seem to have fun. One of the other kids kept hitting him in the arm, but Wally just kept at the blade. He put the end in his mouth and began to chew.
“Hey, Superman.” Murray yelled out, “It’s almost your turn. Go get ‘em!”
The little boy turned and smiled at his Grandpa. Tossing the grass on the ground, he walked to the end of the bench where his Dad double checked his helmet. The small gray and orange bat felt good in his hands. He waited at the edge of the dugout for the kid at bat to finish.
There was a cheer from parents and exhortation for the kid to run fast. The ball dribbled out towards first and was grabbed by the opposing fielder and the out was made. The parents groaned and the kid slouched dejectedly back to the bench.
It was Wally’s turn.
The little man strode confidently to the plate. Murray tensed with anticipation. With one swing, the ball flew high over the second basement and past the right fielder. It came to rest at the fence about 150 feet away. The parents cheered. The afternoons in the yard with Grandpa paid off again. The kid was already showing talent at five. Little Wally rounded the bases with ease and was met with the high fives of his team mates. The game ended and everyone went to the parking lot for snacks.
They were coordinated by Ms. Scalini, the team Mom. An invisible woman handed out juice boxes and cookies to the suddenly hungry team. Some little brother came up in Spider-man pajamas to get his. Murray couldn’t help but smile at that. Wally brought him a juice box and asked excitedly if he’d seen the big hit. Murray rubbed the curly head and assured him he had.
"Grandpa, can we play catch later?"
His cell phone buzzed.
They both shrugged. Another case to deal with.
At least it wasn’t a completely ruined Saturday.
Pic-Michelle Marko King.
Pic Guesses: Zoo, Menagerie, zebra (all in blog), Jungle Life, Dr. Doolittle, InterMural, Animal art,