Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Exodus 16:2-15
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
  • Philippians 1:21-30
  • Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

I was an L.A. kid. My favorite sport
was baseball. The weather was always kind
enough for a game. My friends and I
knew the batting averages and the earned run
averages of the players in the PCL,
and all the major league stats. I followed the Angels.
It was always a treat to go to Wrigley Field
with my dad and watch the Angels play ball.
I never went without some friends from school.

One Saturday, my dad took me and two
of my friends to an Angels game. We sat near
the back of the lower section overlooking
first base. There was a section in front of us
right by the visitors’ dugout completely empty.
These seats were the most expensive in the park,
but today, those ticket holders did not show up.

Wrigley had a custom to let the local kids
into the stands after a couple of innings,
just to fill up the ballpark. It was a neighborly policy
with the surrounding community in south L.A.
and it helped to boost the noise for the home team.

When a boisterous group of black kids commandeered
the seats in the coveted section down below,
a man sitting near us began to grumble
about them in a loud voice. This same man
was telling his companion at the start of the game
how pleased he was with his seats at the ballpark.
He did have great seats, but it made him angry
when poor kids sat closer to the action.

The man complained and muttered racial slurs
for two innings before my father finally
had enough. Dad was sure the commentary
was ruining the experience for me and my friends.
After one racist rant too many, my father turned
to him and said, “Hey, knock it off.
We’re trying to watch the game.” The man was caught
off guard, “Well, it isn’t fair. I paid good money
for these seats, and those kids don’t deserve
the luxury box.” Dad said, “I heard you bragging
about your seats when you came in. You said
they were perfect. What happened? Relax,”
he said gesturing toward the buoyant fans
in the stands, “enjoy the game with the rest of us.”

It worked. We never heard another word.
Later, my dad explained it this way:
“It is a gift just to be there at Wrigley Field
where the sun is shining and the Angels are winning.
Be happy. It doesn’t matter where you sit.”

September 20, 2020

If you would like to comment about the poetry or contact me, you can reach me at davebaldwin37@gmail.com.

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