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 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!
by Yvonne Zipter
The briefest love is sometimes sweetest,
and so my ardor for the nap.
But the litany of each
that’s ever cupped me in its lotus palm
would put you in a stupor,
and so I will not mention
the most pitiful of naps—
that of the invalid,
who lies swathed in a blanket on the couch
while the world slips past in flickering frames—
or poorer yet, the dirt nap, the specter of which hunkers
at the end of the sofa,
tactlessly licking a mossy lip.
Better to tell of the “power nap,”
all the fashion a decade past:
bears do it, blokes do it,
even preppy Greenwich teens do it
(let’s do it—let’s fall asleep).
Of course, last century we were all
hungry for power: military, electric, personal.
New to my list
is to doze upon the maple floorboards,
the narrow face of one dog
on my thigh, the head of the other
on my arm as they bathe me
in a kind of elixir
of kibble-scented breath
and the musk of waxy ears.
But easily the pleasantest of naps
is that on a Sunday afternoon—
in the summer, if at all possible—the fragrance
of new-mown lawn filtering through an open window,
a fat fly tapping at the screen,
and Pat Hughes, Voice of the Chicago Cubs,
intoning the stats like a chant,
which sets you adrift, for a moment,
like a pharaoh in a boat,
paddling toward heaven
with all the things you love.
by John Kiernan
On this date in 1939, the Yankees held a special ceremony to bid farewell to one of the greatest players in history. This poem was inscribed on the trophy they presented to the Iron Horse that day.
We’ve been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.
Idol of cheering millions,
Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you
Decked you with laurel leaves.
But higher than that we hold you,
We who have known you best;
Knowing the way you came through
Every human test.
Let this be a silent token
Of lasting Friendship’s gleam,
And all that we’ve left unspoken;
Your Pals of the Yankees Team.
by Barbara Gregorich
I grew up in large backyards
with fields nearby
and open spaces.
I grew up with bats and balls
with neighbor kids
and unfenced spaces.
I grew up with white and black
with pickup games
in unblocked spaces.
I grew up with a batter’s stance
and hit away
to unfilled spaces.
I grew up with long-ball blasts
that led my eyes
to equal places.
From Barbara’s latest book (which is not all about baseball, she warns), Crossing the Skyway.