a Diamond


Kaki came back from two weeks away, most of them in Philly, with a veritable Easter basket full of treats: photos of the boys at baseball practice, and with the photos her descriptions and stories.

If you read the book you know how desperately we wanted them to have more time outdoors, playing and learning and extending their boundaries. I guess we just needed to be patient.

I wrote this already but I'll write it again - God Bless their coach Kevin, and all the people who coach children's sports. Twenty kids went out for the team. Only about half that could make it. His criteria? No missed practices.

The boys didn't miss a practice, and neither did their mom. Because you know Tahija's not about to let stay down at the field, after dark, for hours. And last night, Kaki said, some guy was there with his pit bull terrier running loose and Tahija and her friend called the cops on him because not only was the dog running loose, and with all those kids around, he looked starved.

Nothing gets to Tahija like a mistreated dog.

Kaki sat on the bleachers with the cold parents. I was glad to hear that about 2/3 of the kids are white. Glad because it's been looking like white flight has re-segregated the neighborhood pretty quick - in about ten years. But I guess it's not the whole neighborhood, yet. I know Tahija and Lamarr are doing their part - making friends, being good neighbors, building bridges, like they know how to do. And now the boys, playing on an integrated team.

But those other kids, of whatever race, are BIG, sompared to the triplets. Least it's not football.

Damear was playing second, Kaki said, really doing the squat and sway and chatter and smack your mitt thing. Mahddy, Mr. former failure-to-thrive, appears to be going out for catcher. If I was the coach I'd pick him for that too. He's tough and smart, and he's got a good arm. Those millions of push-ups paying off.

Little Lamarr is not exactly athletically inclined. But we knew that. His self-esteem remains pretty high though; he's doing the best in school and he's been favored since birth by many of them women in the family (see Chapter 14 if you have the book). He's throwing lefty and having fun. He's got a really big mitt.

Kaki had wanted to give them baseball mitts last Kawanzaa. I remember the two of us standing in the toy store debating it. I said they'd never get to use them. I might have said never-ever. I might have felt hopeless.

Thank you Kevin. Thank you Tahija and Lamarr. Thank you, you remnant of the working-class Italian and Irish community that built the field and the tall bright lights. Thank you working-class African-American and Latina/a people moving in, sharing your sports and ways, sitting with the white folks on the park bleachers so that your kids can feel it, be supported and protected by it: Community.

Thank you Kaki for being there that night and rushing home with your bright basket of descriptions. You are a bridge builder too.

We'll get some baseball pics of them up soon.