by Millie Bovich
Written in the spring of 1995, in response to an imminent players strike, by a Tigers fan of more than six decades.
If only Abner Doubleday could step back to today,
He’d be mighty disappointed that his game is not in play.
He’d expect to find the traffic and the folks around the park,
‘Cause he knows that there were day games, and as many after dark.
He would want to see the rippling of Old Glory ‘gainst the sky,
And the silhouettes of people on a mission shuffling by.
He would sniff to find the favorite smells, familiar and clear,
Of relish, dogs, and mustard, and a hint of warm stale beer.
Old Abner D. would want to hear the sound of cracking bat,
And see the man in right field smooth the hair beneath his hat.
But there is no sweating pitcher, no dusty slide to third,
There is no home run ball that goes a-flying like a bird.
There is no team that’s visiting, no coaches, batboys, so
No spitting, scratching home team in the dugout down below.
Where is the center fielder, where’s the catcher and his sign?
Where’s the skinny, scrappy manager who won’t step on a line?
Where’s the nimble-legged shortstop, where’s the unexpected shout,
Of the chest-protected umpire who too often yells, “Yer Out!?
Where’s the blooper, where’s the error, where’s the field of grassy green?
Where the two colliding fielders as the ball falls in between?
Old Doubleday would lift his eyes to see the scoreboard dark,
And the empty seats so lonely all around the baseball park.
He would shuffle ‘cross the infield and would prob’bly heave a sigh,
Saying,”Why, oh why, in ’94 did baseball have to die?”
There was magic in the sunshine, there was magic when it rained,
When the Tigers left the diamond, every loyal fan complained.
Can’t the owners and the players just sit down and have a talk?
We want vendors hawking pizza, and four balls to be a walk!
We miss our favorite pastime in those old and hallowed places,
We need the sound and sight of baseball in our ears and in our faces!
Something’s missing on the sports page, something’s missing in the news,
We’re deprived as fans of baseball, we’ve a right to sing the blues!
There’s a blank in our existence, it’s a dirty, rotten shame
Players aren’t compiling numbers for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
There is truth in that old adage, Abner’s spirit roams the crowd,
And he sits among the faithful cheering boist’rously and loud!
Now his spirit needs appeasing, now the fans stand sad and blue
In the ninth with bases loaded, what are we supposed to do?
We WANT to see the game again, we LONG to hear the call,
Of a fiesty, sunburned umpire and those special words, “PLAY BALL!”
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