Ball Park 65

by Marc Smith (aka Slampapi)

In honor of Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary today, we reprint a poem from the founder of the Poetry Slam, possibly the most accurate description of what it’s like at the corner of Clark and Addison on game day.

I’m sitting on a fire hydrant half way between my forty-fifth and forty-sixth season
enhancing my tan while I wait for my pals to arrive with the tickets.


And a street vendor, leaning against a blond brick wall fifty feet beyond the centerfield
fence, cries


Sounding somewhat like a cricket because the squall he makes is louder than his body
should allow.


Three cops sitting sidesaddle on a blue horse, side arms bulging out conspicuously,
adjust their doughnut bellies as they chit chat takin’ it easy on their fair weather


Ten Wichita Kansas corn fed bullheads plug up the intersection hunting for Gate F.
The cop nearest the traffic jam reluctantly does his duty with a groaning eyeball

“Down there, sir. Gate F is down there
Where the big F is.”


People plash by in streams of placid pastels. Pops and his buzz head kids.
Wendy and hers. Bertha and what could be children, but what may be baby
hippopotami tuggin’ at their mama as they lumber across the street
linked together hand to hand — the last one dragging an antique catcher’s mitt.


From the top of the plug I shoot my scanner out into the loveliness of lots and lots of ladies, dolls, dames. Over forty me can’t help being a pig sometimes, especially at the ballpark. Hell, when I’m out here I’m like a WGN cameramen zoomin’ in on


Some bad habits are hard to kick.

Anyway, I spot peroxide blond wearing a pink halter-top, eating a Polish sausage at the beer stand across the street, making lipstick autographs on the bun. Peanuts! I fantasize that she’s signing it for me.

“Got tickets?”
Something tries to invade my daydream.

“Got tickets?”
It starts to dissolve.

“I said, d’ya got tickets?”
Is this my friend?

“Hey! I’m talkin’ to you!”
Not my friend.

“All you got to say is yes or no.
You people.
You people and your looks.”

It’s a hawk, a hustler, a young man scalping a fist of fake tickets. He’s tough, muscular, feral.
Red Dog dago-tee. His eyes peg me reactively. I feel my own opaque glare matching up to his. For a second we stare coldly into each other’s eyes.

“All I asked you was if you had tickets.
And if you do, just say no thank you.
Save me the hard guy look.”


“You people.
When are you people
Ever gonna stop
Lookin’ down at us?”


“You don’t own this street.”


“And you don’t own me.”


“And if you don’t have the guts
To say what you’re thinkin’,
Then don’t parade around
As if you got the guts to do anything else.”


“You people.”

Down the block and across the street Big Mama leans over the porch rail and hollers “Ramon!” “Ramon!” who runs up to the cricket on the corner holdin’ out a handful of money cryin’:

“Peanuts! Peanuts!
I want some peanuts!”

You got ‘em little buddy. They’re all yours. Take ‘em home.
Take ‘em home and enjoy yourself. Enjoy eating your


Published in Ballparks, Chicago Cubs, Fans, Food, Free Verse | Link to this poem | No Comments

First of the Year

by Hilary Barta

The besotted on Clark Street are searching
Dodging potholes they’re parking, then lurching
To watch Cubbies they swarm
Though a drubbing’s the norm
At the bottom those barkers are perching.


Published in Ballparks, Chicago Cubs, Fans, Limerick | Link to this poem | 2 Comments

Numbers Game: If 9 Were 7

by Stephen Jones

Alexander Joy Cartwright, club member
Of the old New York Knickerbocker,
Declared 9 innings in 1845 –
Something we still keep alive.

Modern baseball’s inventor –
Tired of game disorder –
Called a dream field to order
When he gaveled “9” the number.

Now stirs a business suggestion:
Make baseball’s 9 a 7.
Why?  Because the game’s too slow,
Because younger fans are “no-show.”

Mr. Cartwright worked with geometry,
Not with something fiduciary.
Since when, he might opine,
Is baseball governed by bottom line?


Published in Fans, Former Teams, Free Verse, History, Management, The Game Itself | Link to this poem | No Comments

You’re A Flop!

by Patrick McCaughey

With apologies to Cole Porter:

You’re a flop!
You’re U.S. Steel!
You’re a flop!
You’re an Arby’s meal!
You’re the bunch of bums
That keep my Tums stock low.
You’re Zsa Zsa’s hubbys!
You’re those Poor Cubbies! You’re Broglio!

You’re the mistakes
Of the “Ishtar” writer!
You’re the brakes
On James Dean’s Porsche Spyder!
You’re a worthless nine,
You’re Jewish wine, you suck!
You’re that black cat!
Sosa’s corked bat! You’re Banks’ luck!

You’re a flop!
The futile prayers I prayed!
You’re a flop!
The ‘84 parade!
You’re a trip to hell
To where Piniella’s coaching next!
You’re Elia’s hate!
You’re Zimmer’s pate! You’re really hexed!

You play as poor
As warped LPs do!
Yes even more
Than Ticketmaster fees, too.
You’re the cause
Of much applause for games you drop!
In St. Louis and New York, well, you’re the top!

You’re a flop!
Each fall I cry a river!
You’re a flop!
You’re Harry Caray’s liver!
You’re the thing
That hits in spring like Tunney’s punch!
You’re watered gin,
A Cardinal win, a Pete Rose hunch!

You’re as unsure
As Yogi Berra’s diction!
As a tie score
When Carlos Marmol’s pitchin’!
My heart can only take so many flubs!
It’s no disease that’s gonna kill me-
It’s you Cubs!


Published in Chicago Cubs, Songs and Parodies | Link to this poem | 1 Comment

To Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason–with no love

By Stuart Shea

If we let newborns have time with dads,
They’ll never develop the requisite ‘nads

To preside on AM radio courts
About how these softies are wrecking sports

By bringing in stuff like “love” and “hope”
To an audience raised on slackjawed dopes.


Published in Players, Pure doggerel, Scandals, Stu Shea | Link to this poem | No Comments

You’re A Flop!

To Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason–with no love


Backstop in Bloom

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Copyright 2007 Bardball.