We traveled in two cars from Camden to
the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital where
our 9 from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
would play ball against patients and
staff comprising their hospital's team.
It was the summer of 1964, I'd graduated
from high school a year prior and had no
specific future except my janitorial job
at Lourdes and playing ball with laundry
and housekeeping guys on our team.
Babe Ruth League baseball had ended
when I'd turned 15 but I wasn't ready
to hang 'em up following eight years
of organized ball and was happy to be
playing with coworkers against anyone.
We had no uniforms, coaches or spikes
but we brought three bats and two balls
and drove to any who'd play us or they
came to our downtown Camden park
field bordered by red-brick row homes.
Ancora's patients didn't look crazy and
we had a good game even though they
won by I forget how much 'cause what
has most stayed with me these 40 years
is a flat-out running catch worth dying for.
And it didn't even happen in the game
but rather during pregame warm-up when
Bill, Lourdes' morgue attendant, was hitting
fungo flyballs to outfielders and I was in
center as Bill shouted, "Duff! Go deep!"