“It Was Freedom, and Pure Love of the Game: Chasing Fly Balls in Center Field,” a Poem by William Jackson
Down in Texas, on October 4, 2022, a figure sculpted from steel let loose with his mighty swing into the night…
The whole country saw–or re-played the film–Aaron Judge’s sixty-second, in sudden, aerodynamic flight.
National élan was re-charged–something felt right–as the latest Bronx Bomber entered the pantheon of heroes. It was sublime.
With his wide smile and boyish leap, he restored to primacy in our psyche–buried too long–the proverbial national pastime!
The baseball soared–and the crowd roared: Judge trotted around the bases as a “clean” (no asterisks) virtuoso.
Yogi was right: You don’t have to swing that hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go…
Tears came to my eyes: It was still the game of my youth, but now with polished bats and cavernous gloves; and new balls thrown at one hundred miles an hour…
Playing in the “semi-pro” Sandhills League, without full uniforms, and the rare fence…if on clay, the ball would never stop rolling…hoping for a summer shower.
How to explain: It was pure love of the game; and memories of my Dad (“tarbucket” on his tombstone), and star shortstop bro–
Now, in old age, I can still envision our sandlot field; and recall the thrill of hitting line drives through tobacco pack shed windows.
It was unadulterated freedom when I chased fly balls in center field; and –yes–on occasion, a home run forestall…
Judge gave his country an uplifting gift. So, I doff my Yankees cap, without a World Series ring, knowing he is destined for the Hall.
William E. Jackson, Jr.
Through three careers--college professor, government official in Washington, and journalism - Bill Jackson has enjoyed poetry more than prose.