Thursday, August 6, 2015

Early morning, Saltillo.

There's a lot I love about the quiet of the morning before there are other people about. When I was 17 and playing for the Seraperos de Saltillo I would arrive at Estadio Francesco I. Madura, our 7,000-seat band-box of a ballpark long before everyone else.

The hundreds of noises that accompanied, that magnified the quiet, were soothing to me, like, I suppose the muffled heartbeat of the mother I never had. I would change into padded sliding shorts and a fungo t, with 3/4-length aqua colored sleeves. In the silent distance would be the plink plink plink of drip from the half-dozen showerheads 15 feet from where I sat in front of my locker. Above me, I'd hear the ca-dunk of seats being closed so the sweepers could sweep the aisles free of ballgame flotsam, peanut shells, crumpled scorecards and, of course, cans and bottles and cups of cerveza strewn everywhere.

Outside, alone, in our small field, Uribe, a Serapero from the 1940s and our groundskeeper now, would be sending a forceful stream of water from his whooshing hose, fighting his never-winning battled to keep the infield green against the persistence of the summer's sun. He would make long-arcs across from first to third, making lazy S shapes with the flow, hoping hoping hoping that today some clouds would find the sun.

In the outfield, early like this, you could hear the electrical hum of millions of little cicadas holding court under leaves and in the bark of the spindly trees in the park just beyond the Estadio. They would be answered, at times, by the friendly chirp of crickets who made their home in the desiccated shrubbery that circled the park. I'd hear the whoosh thud of my spiked feet as I kicked up the dewy grass during my outfield jog.

Later more prosaic sounds would echo through the place. The pop of a ball in leather. The crack of ash against horsehide, but mostly the chatter and laughter of thirty men-boys who chased a round sphere for a living. Under the ever-present glare of the sun and the ever-present view of Hector Quesadilla.

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