Bleacher Rat by Joyce Kessel

Bleacher Rat
by Joyce Kessel

I grew up a National League fan
of the Pirates, Cards, Reds & Giants,
not even knowing many decades before
my Buffalo Bisons played in the Senior League
well before becoming a minor league stalwart.
So I’d pray for sunny skies over Forbes Field
rather than Cleveland’s “Mistake by the Lake.”
My rare defection to the American League
came when the Orioles gained Frank Robinson
in that lopsided trade and after,
who couldn’t have appreciated Cal Ripken?

My dad & I would troll the minor leagues
where for some reason affiliations
didn’t seem to matter as much,
at least not to me,
who took in the green expanses
beyond dirt as the glowing diamonds
they were meant to be,
even in parks that were bare shadows
to Little League fields today.

In bandbox fields
and open air bleachers
we’d watch players with numbers,
but no names on their uniforms,
trading cards in their future or past
or not at all, their talents raw and wild.

I learned a geography of Rustbelt cities:
Toledo Mudhens, Columbus Clippers,
Rochester Redwings, Syracuse Chiefs,
Geneva Cubs, Oneonta Yankees,
Niagara Falls Rainbows,
a day’s ride away,
hoping they’d play two,
and mastering the geometry
& hieroglyphs of scorecards.

*

This poem was originally published in Spitball Magazine, the finest baseball-themed literary magazine of which I know. It’s a semi-annual publication. I have a subscription and I hope you will subscribe and support baseball-themed humanities, too.

Joyce Kessel is an editor at Earth’s Daughters, and a professor at Villa Maria College in Buffalo, NY.

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