my brother was born too early, a product of my mother precariously entering a second birth she wasn’t really supposed to have. the birth almost killed both my mother and baby brother– but it didn’t. instead, it left my mother unable to have more children and left my brother with disabilities the medical world has yet to find a name for.
these disabilities manifested in different ways. the most obvious was his speech. his words were a gibberish of sounds, hopelessly leaving my parents to wonder if he would ever make coherent words or sentences. somehow, i was blessed with the ability to translate. i’d know what he wanted and what he was feeling, dutifully filling my role as the protective big sister.
baseball, quite literally, changed this game. to this day, i still don’t know what it is about the sport that kickstarted his synapses, but he understood it before any of us. my brother couldn’t utter the words he needed to get food but put the mets game on and suddenly, the words couldn’t fly out of his mouth fast enough.
why the mets? easy. mike piazza.
my brother’s name is michael. we call him mike or mikey at home. seeing someone up there with his name is what gave him hope that he could be someone, some day. he had a pennant of mike piazza that hung up on his room wall ever after he retired. he had piazza gear, a signed ball and a baseball bat with his picture emblazoned on it. he went to a mets meet-and-greet one day and happened to meet mike. to this day, it’s one of the best days of his life.
slowly, the rest of us picked up on the sport. it connected us to america but more than that, it connected us to my baby brother. his love for the mets never died and neither did ours. despite how much they suck sometimes (because really, being a mets fan is a constant source of agony with an occasional bout of joy), our family never gives up on this team. in a way, the mets have become as important to our family as church has.
last night, I went to a mets game with my brother, my cousin and my boyfriend. it might have looked a bit weird to be the only girl squished among three guys, but i couldn’t have been happier. i love all three of them so much, it barely registered. my brother and i used to go to games all the time at shea with our mom and dad. i have such fond memories of being in those hard orange seats, hoping that our signs would be on the jumbo screen.
now that we’re older, my brother and i go to games sparingly. our schedules don’t line up as much as they used to, so we mostly just watch at home. but last night we both made it out to citifield and what a game it was. we saw a grand slam, saw our oldest pitcher get two!!! hits!! and so much more.
there are some feelings and some moments that words can’t describe because they are too paltry to capture all i want to say. last night, when i saw my brother ricochet out of his seat to join the thunderous applause during the grand slam, i had an immediate flashback to the little boy who would jump out of his chair in our cramped queens apartment and scream “HOMERUN!” over and over when piazza knocked it out of the park. i remembered that once, words were hard to come by. and even though he stood up and clapped in silence, now it was by choice.
i am so grateful for baseball. i am so grateful for the mets. but most of all, i am grateful for late summer nights and sticky skin and roaring crowds joining together if only for a moment. i’m so glad that i get to share that with the people i love the most.