The photos in yesterday’s Globe of the early arrivals reminded me of one significant fact in baseball–how many young players will play their guts out and never make the show.First there was the shot of Pap, looking perhaps like he needs to shed a few pounds, but possessing still his steely determination.Then there were the beautiful shots of “minor league players” unnamed, on the mound and strapped by workout parachutes. Parachutes not for landing anywhere but for pulling you deeper against the wind while running. As everything will seem to go with them, the game speeding them along to professional ranks, the reality of the greatness of so many others crowding the path will grow in front of them, in the grapefruit’s damp mornings and afternoon heat.
One of the great things of the game, which these players already know on so many deeper levels than I will ever know, is how one can return to it again and again for meaning and understanding. I love how the rituals of spring keep growing, with the celebrations for Truck Day and Pitchers & Catchers, etc. . It is sign to me that we want more from the game, with an almost insatiable desire. In celebration of every ritual, big and small, for Spring, and for the minor league players running wind sprints in Fort Myers, as I write this far north of them, and who will be still out there as the sun is setting, here is a poem by Mairead Small Staid:
IN THE TWILIGHT
A diamond is geometric, perfect,
lasting; no mathematician understands this
as we do. Paley found a watch,
believed in a watchmaker–
we do not question three strikes, three outs,
nine innings. We know like we know nothing else:
gods hewed this gem. Nothings less
could gild the grass in such a dying sun.
Nothing less could blur time like a field in haze.
The lanky leadoff, now, freckled wrists jutting,
crowding the plate, young enough to be cocky
& terrified–his bat kisses the ball, sweet & hard
& brief: we stand to watch this moment
arcing in the twilight, these boys
exploding into men.
(Published in The Southern Review, Spring 2010, page 297)
Mairead Small Staid is a resident of Massachusetts and a student at Pomona College. She has other work in The New York Quarterly