“Playing Ball” by Donald Hall

Donald Hall


At spring training—
forty-four years old, two-hundred-and-fifty
pounds, with a full beard
and hair hanging to my shoulders—I tried
out for the Pittsburgh
Pirates. For seven days I ran bases,
did infield, and took
BP while the real ballplayers hee-hawed.
My body turned red, swole,
and stiffened. At the end of the week
it took me an hour
to get out of bed. Jane observed my play
from the stands—larky,
amused, but nervous about heart attacks—
and heard her grandfather
explain to a puzzled eight-year-old
with outfielder’s glove
and scorecard that I was some old catcher.

from Rattle #5, Spring 1996

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