Leslie M. Rupracht: “The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat”

The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat 
	
  —Exhibition Game, August 8, 1977 
      MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York
 
We three—
Dad, little brother, and nine-year-old me—
watched from the low-rise, general admission bleachers 
beside right field, a long walk to the concession stand 
and nowhere convenient to shelter from the rain, and 
it did rain that night we visited the ball park to see 
the New York Yankees rival their Triple-A farm club 
Syracuse Chiefs, who, after three innings, were ahead 
on the scoreboard before the rain delay, when Dad said 

the Yanks were letting the Chiefs win, rotating 
bench players while big name starters schmoozed 
at the fence-line, and luckily, that fence was close to 
us fans who sat in nowhere-land just to see our sports 
heroes because, let’s face it, we were there for 
the Major Leaguers anyway, our pounding pulses, 
giddy chatter, and broad grins underscoring delight in 
sort of meeting our favorite soon-to-be 
World Series Champs—

star hitter and right fielder Reggie Jackson, shortstop 
Bucky Dent, second baseman Willie Randolph, pitcher 
Ron Guidry, catcher Thurman Munson, among them—
signing autographs for more seasoned fans with 
the foresight to bring baseballs and ballpoints as 
we stood a mere Louisville Slugger’s length behind 
them, our eyes wide and jaws on the gravel, until 
the rain finally tapered off, antsy fans grew louder, 
and the umpire again declared,

Play ball! and when the ninth inning had barely ended—
the Chiefs having proudly trounced the Yanks 14-5—
our soggy trio mad-dashed through the crowd, Dad’s firm
hands guiding us kids by our shoulders to the restrooms 
for a pit stop, then onward to our trusty royal blue Ford 
van in the crowded parking lot, where I realized I’d lost 
my oft-worn, multi-colored Long Island Game Farm hat, 
too late to buy a Yankees ball cap and keepsake pen,
ask Mr. October to sign the not-yet-broken-in rim. 

About the Author: Leslie M. Rupracht has poems appearing or forthcoming in Aeolian Harp, Asheville Poetry Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Chiron Review, K’in, The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kakalak, a chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag), and elsewhere. Editor, poet, writer, visual artist, and rescued pit bull mama, Leslie cofounded and hosts the monthly reading series, Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic, in Huntersville, NC (on Facebook/Instagram @WaterbeanPoetryNightattheMic).

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Night baseball, Marshall, Texas” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress