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.
Each year, before the first spring training game, the late Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell would read from the Song of Solomon (2:11-12).
by Ember Nickel
There was an extra round and there was rain
And there were extras. None of that would keep
The playoffs from concluding in their main
Month here. Win by the sweep, lose by the sweep.
The Tigers could go yard once they would try it,
The Giants showed them how. It’s not too weird
To overhear the yelling from “the riot”
Nor to watch the closer’s secondhand beard.
Let the rain fall; today the sky is orange.
by Charles Ghigna
Like many kids of the 1950s, I loved baseball. I played on teams throughout my youth and in 1964 I received an invitation to spring training camp for a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m still waiting to hear from them. In the meantime, I’ve been writing a few poems…
I may have lost a step or two,
(Or four, or six, or eight).
My bat speed may have slowed a bit,
(Much like a rusty gate).
My fastball may have lost some pop,
My slider may be have slid,
But when I dream of baseball,
I become a kid.
A glint of steel in my young stare,
Swagger in my stride,
I saunter to the plate
With confidence and pride.
A fastball down the middle,
I swing with all my might,
Old Rawlings soars past the crowd
And deep into the night.
There I am in summer’s glow
Warmed by hometown cheers,
Rounding third and striding home,
Back to my boyhood years.
Suddenly I’m sixty-six
Asleep in winter’s sun,
Dreaming of what might have been
When I was twenty-one.
Still I wait to take the call,
To hear them say my name,
An old man dreaming of the day
He played a young man’s game.
Charles Ghigna (Father Goose) is a poet, children’s author, speaker, and nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services.
by Ember Nickel
Arithmetic is a liberal art
Where all the rest of the statistics start.
Runs, hits, and errors. Averages. Fractions.
A boiling down of long hours of actions.
Memorizing records they thought would last.
Counting up to them…and then counting past.
So was geometry. Ninety feet square;
Sixty feet, six inches. Pentagons, there.
The distances to left-center and right
The arc of a parabola in flight.
Pythagorean “caught stealings”. The shift
As sunlight or as fielders slowly drift.
And music. “Take me out to the ballgame”
Makes sense on TV (we’re not those who came)!
The melody leading up to the “charge!”
A place for many to sing on a large
Scale. Even anthems, sigh or groan,
Have found a way to call the field their own.
Astronomy (not just the Houston type):
To gaze at stars in green cap or pinstripe,
To classify them and predict who’s next
Even if things don’t go as one expects
To play under the lights, have some eclipse
Of newcoming talent, cheer on your lips.
These were the quadrivium. Yet there’s more;
Grammar was one subject that came before,
The simple linkups of fielder and base,
The schematics with everything in place.
The count, the swing, the hit. The strike. The ball;
No wonder it might be first of them all.
Logic. Decisions on the field of play;
To pinch-hit here? To bunt or swing away?
To try the long ball? Play for ninety feet?
Looked back on, criticized after defeat,
Forgotten in the wake of victory,
With everything else swirling giddily.
And rhetoric. The DH, pro or con?
Are the good days still here, or have they gone?
Williams or Ruth? Or Bonds? How to compare?
Is there any metric that’s really fair?
What might different statistics have revealed?
When will our announcers look at the field?
But now the random questions one responds
To are more pointed than “Pujols or Bonds?”
It’s “Do you recognize this obscure gem?”
If not, “So, why haven’t you heard of them?
You only follow MLB, as if
It was some ‘major league’? A swing and whiff!
There are other leagues, you short-sighted fool!
Oh what do they teach at your old-time school!
And I don’t just mean ‘A League Of Their Own.’”
So while I, yes, have heard of Toni Stone,
I don’t feel like this line of questions suits.
These aren’t your normal trivium pursuits.
Ember Nickel presents her various treatises at Lipogram! Scorecard!