Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Five years before Pete Rose

I bought a box of baseball cards
at Tessie’s candy store
on the corner of Elizabeth
and Ohio Street for two dollars
with money I won pitching pennies,
forty packs frosted in glucose
and a yield of two-hundred players
my friends and I would swap
like big-league managers
making trades.

three or four Ernie Banks’ cards
turned up in one box –
bait for any Cubs’ addict
in 1958.

I was the only White Sox fan
on Elizabeth Street that year,
a gambler taking a bus to Wrigley Field
with a bag of peanut butter
sandwiches for munching,
baseball cards for autographs,
and gum for wagering
on the game’s outcome.

I’d always arrive just in time
for batting practice;
I’d cheer for the challenger in town—
Reds, Braves, Giants… it didn’t matter—
amid jeers.

I’d bet forty sticks of gum
against the Cubs every game;
like a sure steal, I’d come home
overdosed on sugar,
my jaws sore from chewing.

“Five years before Pete Rose” was originally published by Lake Shore Publishing.

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