Bill was black, squat, thick with muscles
from handling stiffs and the smartest on
our team as the rest were janitors and
laundrymen but we were close 'cause
our zeal to play bonded us joyously.
At work the laundry guys wore white
T-shirts and white trousers and were
in shape from wrestling endless hot
sheets from iron-lung size washing
machines and all were black men.
Johnny Egan and I were the only
two janitors and our uniforms were
gray, our skin white yet it didn't seem
to matter in summer of 1964 before
war elsewhere would take us away.
We'd see one another in hospital's
basement locker room throughout
workdays and arrange to assemble
for evening games at home or away
and we parted smiling our shared joy.
"Duff! Go deep!" was followed
by southpaw Bill tossing ball then
dipping left shoulder to get muscles
under it and I knew from sound of
ball meeting bat that it was way deep.
That was my first and only glimpse
when ball was still within infield
rocketing up and far to my left as
I turned left angling toward right
foul line and away from infield.
The chase was on as I heard oohhs
and aahhs from both their team and
mine 'cause Bill had hit it both deep
and high thanks to his muscles and
the bat speed that fungo provided.