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Ode to Old Baseball Equipment, a poem by James Green

Ode to Old Baseball Equipment

Walking the neighborhood, I saw an estate sale, 

the kind where the closets and attic have been emptied, 

everything sorted, then spread onto sawhorse tables 

set up on the lawn. There was a favorite chair, 

dishes from family dinners, suits long out of style 

but saved for one reason or another, probably graduations 

or weddings, and some well-worn hand tools 

that kept the family’s house in repair, their car running. 

And over on the side was a table with old sports equipment, 

a golf set with a club or two missing, some fishing tackle, 

and a couple of old ball mitts – a Rawlings, the Stan Musial model, 

the one with three fingers (good starter glove) and 

a catcher’s mitt, also a Rawlings, the Ed Bailey (top-of-the-line), 

both oiled and each holding a scuffed, yellowed ball in its pocket 

shaped to someone’s liking. And a 32- inch Jackie Robinson, 

thick handle for hitting bleeders when jammed inside. 

Did the one who set these relics on the lawn, then 

priced them with a stroke of a Sharpie – scrawls 

on the webbing of the mitts, on the barrel of the bat – 

know anything about the nights when a man 

rubbed these mitts with neatsfoot, slapping his fist 

into the pocket, tracing his finger along the hairline crack 

in the handle of his bat, while the years added up, 

along with some regrets, dreaming of summer days,

the fragrance of fresh cut grass before gametime, 

the sound of infield chatter, and taste of dirt in his nostrils 

when blocking the plate as a runner slides into home, 

remembering those moments when the sun is high, 

following a pop-up until it disappears into that fiery haze, 

then reappears as a luminous line falling into his mitt?

James Green is a retired university professor and administrator. He has published five chapbooks of poetry and individual poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. Long ago a catcher for the Springfield (MO) Giants, he was told at the time there were only two obstacles to his playing professionally: Right handed pitching and left handed pitching. His website can be found at