Coming home from school I’d pass this fence,
with broken pickets and chips of wood.
Behind that fence was old grey house,
Where an old broken man once stood.
Ole man Tanner was his name,
and for the sake of my shame,
I joked and called him things.
I made fun of his bent back,
his shaking hands with the lack,
of strength to steady his cane.
But for all of that, he’d never look back,
after calling him name after name.
The field that we’d play, day after day,
the game that drove us to call,
that game of all games,
for not fortune or fame,
but our game of simple baseball.
Then the bulldozers came,
and away went our game,
never to be seen again.
We all frowned and were mad,
and the field that we once had,
was gone forever no more.
But then we turned around,
and saw there beyond yore,
a yard so large and stretching so far.
Just beyond that old picket fence.
Broken pickets and chips of wood,
Would be so grand and so great
if only … if only, we could.
But that belonged to old man Tanner,
the one I scoffed and joked.
The one I taunted and laughed at
the one I never treated like folks.
So we drew straws to see who would ask him,
To play this game we all loved.
To play in his yard and pitch the white ball,
to pound our fists in our gloves.
I lost of course, a fitting remorse,
now it was time for me to get what I deserved.
So I knocked on his door, a grey figure appeared,
that frighten me to say the least.
But this old man’s smile, as he stood there a while,
seemed to calm me and put me at peace.
He knew why we were there, asking him to share,
his yard so we could play ball.
So we pitched and ran,
we hit and caught,
a game of ball for us all.
And thanks to that old man,
we all had to understand,
how simple a gesture,
how frail is kindness,
how we all can be as good as we can.
Now I’m old and all alone with a white picket fence,
and a large yard behind my house.
And I see these young boys, looking for joys,
of playing ball and making the most.
So I call one of them over, offering my yard,
to which they all think and make gestures to take.
When one of the lads looks at me straight,
and says…” old man, perch and rotate.”
Hummmm… times have changed!