I am listening to this on the radio while driving home in yet another snow. I first heard Sam’s song ( link below) one summer Saturday on my way to do services at St. Paul’s. The combination of Sam’s oddly soulful voice and the intensity of the memories and feelings his song resurrect in me is powerful . The rich, earthy smell of a well oiled mitt, the clear blue sky, the rustling of the cicada wings all around, the dusty ball field, the poetry of body and bat swinging to met arm-launched ball and the crack of ball and bat connecting, the arc of possibility as the ball threads the air, the dads in fatigues or khakis and moms in cotton dresses cheering in the stands as we played the summer game–All this comes charging up from the deep synapses, long dormant stories shoving their way into my present moment. Maybe an endorphin rush, but as near to perfection as childhood memories can be. Things were not always great in my family. Dad and I did not always agree; sometimes the best we could hope for was to agree to disagree civilly. But on the ball field, everything was different. On the ball field magic happened, for father and son.
Sam’s song is nostalgic and simple. In my youth, just before Vietnam became serious (Gulf of Tonkin), we never thought much about the “way of harm” attached to the soldiers. In my memories, they were just our dads sitting in the stands in hard-pressed khakis or olive drab, cheering us on . . . yet I know some soon died and left their children to play the game alone*. Still “another Saturday comes and goes . . . another baseball field . . . another bunch of boys and another blue sky . . . boys laugh, boys play.” Yet, comes the sadness, comes the sorrow.
Oddly, I am not left in sorrow or sadness; Sam’s song leaves me hopful. Always “another blue sky.” Possibility and hope, if I embrace them, come and with them comes the laughter, comes the play . . . comes another blue sky.
*Sadly, something much more real to the military brats of today who endure the repetitive deployment of their parents thanks to questionable political policies of constant war.
There is an amazing story about the artist, Sam Baker, and more of his great music; but you are going to have to find that on your own.