Soon I will walk through those iron gates, with torn ticket stub stuffed in my pocket.
A woman will ask me if I want to buy a magazine: the cover featuring someone kneeling in the grass, exposing blue and white stripes encircling a red sock that reaches his knee. He will smile sweetly.
I will wonder.
That magazine will have sheets of names, birthdays and batting averages, pages stapled together and nestled among glossy photographs of players whose numbers have been painted on the outfield walls.
There will be two white pages of columns and rows.
I have never scored an entire game, however. No, I will learn the nuances while watching a Marlins game on a Tuesday evening in mid-May.
Not this night.
So I will walk on, past vendors rotating hot dogs under boiling light.
And then I will stumble when a man in a powder blue jersey cuts in front of me to reach the condiment stations. He can fill a tiny, white paper cup with a dollop of ketchup.
I will stop to look down at people gathering outside these walls, those fans shuffling through the gates after staying a minute too long at the office.
I will stop again when I reach center field.
Then I will hop down tiny steps lined with empty seats, chairs marked with silver and black numbers.
I will not know these.
But I will stand near them so that I can see players reach for fly balls along the warning track.
Just beyond me, 11-year-olds in baseball caps will dangle gloves. Their brims were shaped like v’s during the Bob Tewksbury era, but lids have flattened with twenty-five years.
Their gloves were stained with oil, wrapped in rubber bands and hidden under mattresses on hollow February evenings.
They will plead for a ball to set in a case on their dresser, then den, then stone.
Children have more time to receive.
Someone wearing sunglasses perched upside-down on his cap bill will give, thinking nothing of it.
I will wish I had asked.
Instead, I will settle into someone else’s seat and watch pitchers toss to bullpen catchers.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
I will see a pitch that sends dust billowing under beaming stadium lights.
So I will go.
I will walk around this place, until double letters become single.
A man will wonder if I know where I am going this night.
(I will point at my pocket when he asks, for now my hands will be full of $8 beer in plastic cups, amber pouring down my fingertips.)
And I will kick up my heels on these steps, white paint underneath my feet, and search.
Here I will rest, elbows on knees, tears in eyes, hands reaching toward grass and dirt.
And the game will begin.by