Yankee Stadium in New York
Yankee Stadium
by Patrick T. Reardon

Look! There, at first base, that’s
me, leaping right full-length to nab
a flaming, screeching liner from the
brawn bat of Willie McCovey — in
my dreams — following Saint Lou
Gehrig, still ox strong until, at 37,
martyred to robber disease, luckiest
man at foreign microphone, here
near first base bag but far distant,
baseball tragedy, wasted away,
weak who had been so powered,
smiling and glee-ed behind his thick
New York accent, high voice, broad
continent of back, naked to the
heat in the slo-mo newsreel shot
of a sun-bake batting practice, a
.340 hitter, MVP, good guy, goofy
in the cowboy one-reeler, playing
himself and stopping the bad-guy
bar-fight by throwing pool balls at
them, giggling, knocking sense into
them, as America was going to have
to knock sense into the Nazis — too
late for millions, world of tragedies —
in the war that started after he was
gone, hugged by the Babe who lived
a decade longer, gaunt at the end,
who had been so beefy over dainty
feet, leaning on a bat here, pained
in painful loose uniform, who had
been Falstaff to Lou’s straight man,
hot-dog-eater to Lou’s rare steak
and mashed potatoes, hot dog to
Lou’s altar boy, as I was, amid the
church gold and echo chants, alien
incense and soaring arches, heaven
-like, who hit .111 in Little League,
talentless on the diamond except
for Major League yearning to follow
Lou with my first baseman’s glove
which, still, I take to the Stadium
(original and new) every time I go,
who will never play first base for
the Yankees, will never nab a
ballistic liner off anyone’s bat
but, wherever here, will wear
Lou’s gleam-white pinstriped home
jersey, 4. Look! There I am.

PHOTO:  Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City, NY, October 2019 by Gabriel Murad, used by permission. Opened in 2009, the stadium replaced the original Yankee Stadium, which operated from 1923-2008.

GehrigLou NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have many stories about how I — a Chicagoan who loves Chicago and has lived here all my life — fell in love with the Yankees and remain in love.  The deepest reason is Lou Gehrig.

PHOTO: Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was a first baseman with the New York Yankees for 17 seasons, from 1923-1939.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Baseball great Lou Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, which earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse.” In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team. In mid-1939 be was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neuromuscular illness now commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The disease forced him to retire at age 36, and was the cause of his death two years later. The pathos of his farewell from baseball was capped off by his iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech at Yankee Stadium. (Source: Wikipedia)

reardon.2..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared inSilver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden, andThe Write City. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His latest book, The Loop: The “L” Tracks that Shaped and Saved Chicago, will be released on November 26, 2020, and is available for preorder. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at patricktreardon.com.