Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Center Fielder

I always wanted to see Bernie play one more time. Tonight, to a house erupting with chants of "Bernie Williams, Bernie Williams", I got my chance.

We took our seats and waited with great anticipation.The players took the stage, one by one. The names were not familiar. Instead of Derek or A-Rod, out stepped people like Joel Rosenblatt and Eren Cannata. After the other 8 had jogged to their positions to quiet applause, HE appeared. Looking much the same as I remembered, HE acknowledged the thunderous cheers with a slight smile and a tip of his head.

This was most definitely a different field of dreams. This was not the house that King George built but one that only held several hundred. There were many empty seats. I wondered if this would embarrass HIM. Would HE not play as hard?

The answer came quickly as this team erupted with energy. For the next 2 hours we were enveloped in the sounds and sights of men hard at work. HE was sweating profusely, straining to prove himself to us, much as he had for those 16 years.

As the evening came near a close, the crowd stood as one. Like so many other times when I had been in HIS presence, there were a series of standing ovations. Finally, to a hauntingly beautiful, if somewhat sad version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the stage emptied. The last to leave was the star. HE acknowledged the crowd and then HE was gone.

My daughter and I waited by the exit for HIS autograph. We stayed for almost 30 minutes, and then were told HE would not be coming our way. Once outside, we saw the team's bus. We considered waiting, Bernie groupies, but finally decided to leave.

We turned on a cell phone and learned that the Yankees were in the process of losing 10 to 8 to the Red Sox, and falling out of first place. Meanwhile, I envisioned their old center fielder packing up to head, with his guitar and the other jazz musicians in the band, to another small venue in a world where the score of a baseball game mattered not.


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