Charles Ghigna wrote this piece in memory of Jack Marsh, who played baseball as a second baseman for Yale University in 1943. We rarely consider the analogous nature of baseball to war, but this poem shows us that the relationship most certainly exists. All sports can teach us lessons about so many facets of our world and society, including war and peace. Unfortunately, war tends to disrupt so many things in life, not just baseball.
I love the metaphors gushing out of this poem: from the uniform to the throwing of grenades, and, of course, the struggle to reach home safely. Assuming that he did, indeed, survive, I wonder if Jack Marsh returned to baseball following the war?
Before the bayonet replaced the bat,
Jack Marsh played second base for Yale;
his spikes anchored into the August clay,
his eyes set deep against the setting sun.
The scouts all knew his numbers well,
had studied his sure hands that flew
like hungry gulls above the grass;
but Uncle Sam had scouted too,
had chosen first the team to play
the season’s final game of ’44,
had issued him another uniform
to wear into the face of winter moon
that shone upon a snowy plain
where players played a deadly game,
where strikes were thrown with each grenade
and high pitched echoes linger still,
beyond the burned out foreign fields
and boyhood dreams of bunts and steals,
young Jack Marsh is rounding third,
and sliding, sliding safely home.