Today would have been Dad's 96th birthday.
On warm summer evenings, Dad would get a folding chair and sit between the house and the willow tree, where it was always shady. But after few minutes, he’d go in the basement and get a ball, a bat and a couple baseball gloves, and yell upstairs for Ed, Jim and me to come out.
It wasn’t often that all three of us immediately answered the call. But one of us would, and Dad tossed him a glove and a game of pepper commenced. Dad hit a ground ball across the driveway, which the son fielded and threw back and Dad stuck the bat out and hit the ball back. This continued without stop until the guy with the glove let one go through his legs or the guy with the bat failed to make contact.
In time, the other sons came out, sometimes together, sometimes not. We wandered in and out of the game, playing for a while then going off somewhere and perhaps rejoining the game, or maybe not. There were kids in the neighborhood who sometimes joined in and, like us, played for a while and then went and did something else. Four or five kids might be there during an evening, but there were seldom more than two or three at a time. When the driveway got crowded, Dad sent a few kids into the Creen’s backyard and hit pop flies to them.
By the time the sun got low, Dad was the only one left outside. And as the air cooled and the shadows faded, Dad, in a pair of erstwhile dress slacks, a T-shirt and a decaying black cap with the orange Bessemer logo above the visor, stood at the basement door. He had outlasted the younger generation, and he had outlasted the sun, and now, with a glove in one hand and a bat in the other, he was reluctant to call it a day.