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.
8 thoughts on ““Baseball Dreams,” by Charles Ghigna”
It’s interesting how nations in the midst of either war or natural disaster initially say things like “in the scheme of things, baseball is not that important.” This is then followed by an about face change when it’s realized that the population needs normalcy more than ever. They need baseball. This is what happened after September 11 and also in Japan after the devastating tsunami.
But more to the poem itself. Sort of contradicts the stand up spiel of the late George Carlin who delivered a comical contrast between baseball as the fluffy, innocent game where players try to reach home and football as the grid iron of sudden death overtime among other things. Here’s the link.
Oh, this video is fantastic. He makes a great point: baseball does tend to have a reputation for being a “soft” game. I’ve always enjoyed George Carlin.
Thanks Ms. Sanders. Honored by today’s offering.
Thank you, sir, for writing such a great piece! I fell in love with it as soon as I read it. I am honored by your visit and your comment.
Jack Marsh did survive WWII. I remember him well.
Thank you! I tried looking him up online, but outside of the poem, could not find anymore information about him. Would you happen to know whether he continued to play ball?
Jack Marsh was my late grandfather (died in 1998). He was the manager of the Stockham Valves and Fittings company baseball team in Birmingham, Alabama after the war. My mom says that he did play baseball as well after the war. He was a wonderful man and I miss him dearly!
Wow… thanks for the info! I’m sorry to hear that he passed away — it’s never easy to lose such a great relative. Sounds like baseball was his life. Thank you again for sharing.