Browse all poems and songs in the 'Free Verse' Category


Came to America

by Jeff Aeder

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh . . . people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”- Field of Dreams

Before they came to Wrigley or Comiskey or Ebbetts or the Baker Bowl or some anonymous field in Iowa, they came to America.

Ike Samuls came from Galicia and hit .230.

Lefty Cristall, Izzy Goldstein, and Reuben Cohen all came from Odessa.  Cohen changed his name to Ewing and played short.

They came to America to be free.  And to be Americans.  And to learn how to hit a curveball.  And to endure nine hour train rides and to wear wool flannel in 90 degree heat and to play for peanuts.

And America let them.

Let them fail, let them sit, let them languish in the minors but also let them achieve greatness.

America let others mutter under their breath, to laugh at their names, to let every error indict an entire people.

But when a Florida hotel owner wouldn’t let NY Giants Weintraub and Danning stay at his hotel, America also let manager Bill Terry stand up and say if they can’t stay then the team won’t stay.

A tall, gangly kid from New York became known as “The Hebrew Hammer.” Hank Greenberg had the swing to chase the Babe, coming only 2 homers short of the magic 60.  However, Greenberg’s power transcended the diamond. At a time in the 30s when Jews faced supreme challenges here and abroad, the Star of David’s first baseball superstar filled our cups with a huge source of pride.

Several decades later, G-D decided to create the perfect pitcher. The end result, Sandy Koufax, had such a rhythm and grace it was like watching ballet being performed on the mound. Yet he was more nightmare than art to hitters who didn’t have a chance against his fastball and devastating curve.

How about the other all-stars . . . Danning, Gordon, Rosen, Hotlzman, Stone, Green, Ausmus, Youklis, Kinsler, yes and even Braun.

This is all great but what makes our history special is . . . the character of the players . . . it was Jackie Robinson who said of Hank Greenberg after a run in on 1st base: “Mr. Greenberg is class. It stands out all over him.”  It was Greenberg again along with Koufax, Green, Shamsky, Holtzman, Danning, Weintraub, Arnovich and Youklis who honored their heritage and did not play on Yom Kippur.

There were Jews wearing suits, not uniforms, who also had an immense influence on the game. Marvin Miller acted like Moses to the players, telling them they had a right to be free . . . free agents, that is. Bud Selig had his critics to be sure, but as the long-time commissioner, his many progressive decisions had baseball charging into the 21st Century. If the Cubs ever win that elusive World Series from the wildcard route, the Wrigley faithful will be shouting out, “This Bud’s for you.”

Since Jews like to laugh at themselves, we chuckled when the stewardess in “Airplane” said to a passenger, “Are you looking for some light reading?” and promptly handed her a leaflet entitled “Famous Jewish Sports Legends”.  Yet the reality is the Jewish impact on the game could fill volumes.

The story is far from finished. At the relative dawn of a new century, surely, there will be another Koufax, another Greenberg to carry on the proud heritage of Jews in baseball.

 



Baseball Quickened?

by Philip Pecorino

Baseball’s “Pace of Game” committee
wants to make it more speedy.
But, in an effort to quicken the paces
what may be lost of the game’s subtle graces?

Baseball was once the game
that made the claim
it had no clock.
But, now it seems
there are several schemes
to attend to the tick-tock.

To appease the fans,
mostly not in the stands,
with ever shorter attention spans
there are several initiatives
by baseball executives
to pick up the pace:
one by keeping batters in their place
another still to consider
would discourage pitchers who dither.

Where will it end
to get fans to attend?
Perhaps, better baseball education
leads to better attention.

 

Philip Pecorino is a Professor of Philosophy in CUNY and SUNY systems and has published several articles in philosophical publications, humanities publications and elsewhere. He is into baseball in a metaphysical way with poems on baseball ontology.

 



Minnie Minoso, Your Name is a Song

by James Finn Garner

Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song

And why it took so long
To integrate Chicago baseball
God only knows

But you came and showed
The joy of speed
The command of glove
And changed the game
But why do I love
You, Orestes, besides your name?

The Cuban Comet
You flared and flamed
and lit up the place
Wherever you came

Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song
I hope to recall
My whole life long

 



On the Death of Baseball (1994/2014)

by Holly L. McEntyre

I spent my childhood
.        learning to tell
.        balls from strikes and
.        rejoicing over 6-4-3
double plays.

Memorizing the names and positions
.        of all “my” players,
.        watching my Montreal Expos “win some, lose some”
.        at Jarry Park,
copying their signatures from baseball cards
.        into my little red scrapbook.

Belting out two anthems
.        at “The Big ‘O’”
Proud of my country,
.        and of Canada,
and of the great North American game.

In the film version
.        of “Shoeless Joe”
James Earl Jones
.        tells us
that baseball is
.        the one constant,
baseball is America.

When baseball is ruined,
destroyed for the masses
.        by the few
.        wealthy enough
to own
.        those who
.        play for pay,
What does this say
.        about our constant,
What does this say
.        about our country?

It says
that even though a boy can
.        “have a catch” with his father,
although Mo’Ne Davis “throws
.        like a girl” at 70 MPH,
we have struck out,
because “Field of Dreams”
is just a movie, the “American Dream”
is just a myth, and
baseball
is just a game.

 



Free Verse (After the Party)

by Stephen Jones

I’m not one for museum pieces,
For immediate elevation
To baseball’s Mt. Olympus,
But the way Mr. Bumgarner
Delivered the goods
On short rest, without a thought –
That does make me stop.

I applaud
Sheer will, tenacity and skill –
And maybe a performance
Tour d’force.

 

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