by Stephen Jones
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank my learned other sports opponent
For his critical remarks about baseball.
They – and he – were most erudite,
Were most informative (the all-color,
Market-share pie charts were especially nice.) . . .
And were mostly wrong.”
I pause, then spit for effect, and
My audience leans forward in their seats,
Their faces a grandstand of expectation.
I look up and squint.
The sky is so blue it almost hurt the eye.
I nod to the invisible, then resume.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
If, as Kenneth Patchen rightly penned,
God threw out the first ball,
Then imagine it could have been
Mark Twain who called the first play-by-play
(As well as providing color commentary)
And set the tone for something
That is true to this day.
“In what other sport
(There is none . . . so don’t answer that)
Do raconteurs thrive?
(And we know God likes a good tale.)
So I don’t have to watch baseball,
Or be a part of some rating system,
To know it exists.
All I have to do is listen.
“The game’s broadcast patter
Seamlessly weaves together
A story of stats and analyses
With anecdotes and memory.
(And what other sport can provide
Banter and commentary with artistry?)
“Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I submit to you:
Baseball is a game outside of time.
Where else is it recorded
That a game reported is more
Than just a cadence of Xs and Os?
Each game is its own short story
Of which Mark Twain would be proud.
“And it is no small wonder
That God is such a good reader.
By Ed Charles
Author of my talents, only You have I praised,
To Thee only shall my hands be raised.
For when I’m burdened with the weight of my team,
To my rescue You come, it will always seem.
For outstanding is my play on any given day
When You intervene and help lead the way.
Grateful to You I’ll always be
For exploiting my talents for the world to see.
For out there on the diamond before thousands of fans,
We players perform the best we can.
Perform we must both day and night,
Seeking victory with all our might.
Seeking a place with other sports greats
In the Hall of Fame where ability rates.
Where Ruth, Cobb, Robinson and the rest
Stand proudly enshrined as baseball’s best.
Excerpted from ‘An Athlete’s Prayer,’ c. 1966, by Ed Charles, major league third baseman (Kansas City Athletics, New York Mets) from 1961-69
by Michael X. Ferraro
With Kershaw slinging filthiness
and Scully narrating the scene,
The no-hit ingredients were
all in place at Chavez Ravine.
Fifteen Rockies went down on strikes
(one reaching by errant throw).
Rojas at third veered into left
to keep Clayton’s hit count to NO.
In the end, the lopsided box
score tells only a part of the tale
Of the night that 40,000
bellowed, while 9 could only flail.
by Stephen Jones
A rookie stepped up to Seattle’s home plate
And recorded his first major-league hit.
That was in 1995.
It’s full circle time, and last night
Derek Jeter did the same: In the 1st
He got a one-out single to right.
“I’ll always have fond memories of Seattle
Because this is where it began.” He smiled.
This is now 2014.
In the 9th he got 40 seconds of grateful applause -
And while some are tired of this season’s homage,
Few will argue
That he has been the “Face of Baseball.”
No matter the stats, it is the intangible
Which makes a star.
Last night the Yankees won, 6-3, and the season
Is up for grabs. But last night Seattle remembered
It started here in 1995.
by Gregory Corso
I dreamed Ted Williams
leaning at night
against the Eiffel Tower, weeping.
He was in uniform
and his bat lay at his feet
– knotted and twiggy.
“Randall Jarrell says you’re a poet!” I cried.
“So do I! I say you’re a poet!”
He picked up his bat with blown hands;
stood there astraddle as he would in the batter’s box,
and laughed! flinging his schoolboy wrath
toward some invisible pitcher’s mound
– waiting the pitch all the way from heaven.
It came; hundreds came! all afire!
He swung and swung and swung and connected not one
sinker curve hook or right-down-the middle.
A hundred strikes!
The umpire dressed in strange attire
thundered his judgment: YOU’RE OUT!
And the phantom crowd’s horrific boo
dispersed the gargoyles from Notre Dame.
And I screamed in my dream:
God! throw thy merciful pitch!
Herald the crack of bats!
Hooray the sharp liner to left!
Yea the double, the triple!
Hosannah the home run!