“A Few Meditations on the Tightly- Wound Baseball,” by Bill Meissner

As a hitter, there’s nothing like that feeling of the ball launching off your bat and sailing farther than you ever thought you had the strength to hit it.  I like how this piece speaks to that feeling.  Written by Bill Meissner, it was published in the journal NINE in the Fall of 2013.

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The tightly-wound baseball is the ball that always seems to poke a hole in the sky when you hit it. It’s the ball, in Little League, that gives you your Magic Swing, flying farther than you’ve ever hit a baseball before.

There’s a logical explanation for the tight-wound, of course. Perhaps the climate was unusually hot in Haiti, or Costa Rica, or perhaps the women in the baseball factory were upset with their husbands or frazzled by their children, angry at the looseness of the world. On a specific morning at one spool, a woman wound the yarn tighter than she’s ever wound it before, tugging at it with each rotation until the pain subsided, and in its place appeared a perfect, firm sphere.

The tight-wound is the baseball that spins during your afternoon nap; sometimes it unwinds as it spins, spooling out yards of blue yarn, but by the time you wake, it will have rewound itself, slipped its leather clothes back on and sealed them again, seamlessly, with red stitches.

The true tight-wound can be sensed by an uneasy pitcher as he squeezes and rotates it with his hand; the true tight-wound speaks to the lines on the palm. When a pitcher senses the taut leather of a tight-wound between his fingers, he wishes he could toss it away among the tall weeds.

But for the batter, the tight-wound is prized. He wants to see it rotating with that flip-flopping smile. The batter’s eyes widen as the ball reaches the plate, and for just one instant, wood falls in love with leather as his bat meets it and sends it up, up, up, high enough to land in the bleachers of his dreams.

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