“Three Sewers,” by Dave Mihal

This poem reminds me of a story (or maybe it was a book?) that I read as a kid.  The story was about a Spanish-speaking boy who moved into an American city, where he learned how to play stickball in the streets.  While I find myself struggling to remember the name of the story, I do recall very vividly a scene where the boy launches a ball with the stick for the first time, and all the other boys around him are in shock and crying out, “You hit three sewers!”

If you are not familiar with the term “three sewers,” in a street game of stickball, a sewer (manhole) cover serves as home plate.  From there, a “sewer” becomes a unit of measurement, from home plate to the next sewer cover.  To hit three sewers, one must launch the ball to the third sewer cover away from home plate — a very rare and difficult accomplishment.

*

Willie Mays hit Three Sewers in Harlem, 1954
Some say when it landed, it broke down a door.
Pepitone could hit them, far as the eye can see
Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford two of the best there would be.

Steve Mercado we’ll miss you since nine eleven
You’re hitting Three Sewers now, way up in heaven.
Steve loved the game and all the tough competition
He always said; “It’s not just a game…it’s a tradition.”

Three Sewers helped you stand up, proud and strong
It proved you’re a hitter, who hits the ball long.
Singles and doubles helped win, no doubt
But Three Sewers is something you could brag about.

Three Sewers is how the Babe built up his house
Hit the ball like a man, not like a mouse.
Swing for the fences, you just might blast one
They talk of the home runs, once all’s said and done.

In 61 Mantle & Maris could sure bash the ball
Many times they would both have to touch them all.
Some fans harassed Roger, for chasing Babe Ruth
Young fans secretly cheered for Maris that is the truth.

Hammerin’ Hank would go through, more of the same
Aaron would pass the Babe, yes that was his name.
755 three-sewer home runs we have the proof
None hit more than Henry, not even Babe Ruth.

Remember Jack Jackowicz with the 15-inch neck
He swung like Ted Williams, but would never connect.
Canseco would say in a bar as he mingled
Better to watch me strike out, then to watch Wade Boggs single.

Kaline, Killebrew, Robby & Mel Ott, could hit to the core
Three sewers they would hit them, sometimes a bit more.
Sluggers and hitters, some the best that could be
Some not so famous players like you and like me.

Dem Bums from Brooklyn played stickball that’s true
Those kids played it all day and half the night too.
Bobby Thomson home run, who could ever forget
Shot heard round the world, hasn’t come down yet.

Grab a broomstick or bat and swing all your might
Three sewers it is heading up into the night.
Long balls make players walk with a strut
The older we get, the bigger our gut.

Some hitters were big, big as an ox
Frank Howard, Ted Williams don’t forget Jimmie Foxx.
Hitters are remembered in the stickball lore
If you want to be remembered, hit it Three Sewers.


4 Comments on ““Three Sewers,” by Dave Mihal”

  1. Fun poem. Was fun to see Pepitone in there. (He wasn’t even needed for a rhyme.)

  2. steve says:

    So strange and interesting to correspond the long ball with three sewers; that king of swat ruling the playground. I never knew about the sewers and baseball. Thanks for posting this. It’s the stuff of superhero homerun hitters emerging through the steam.

    • It was a lucky find. I had actually been thinking about the story I mentioned and was trying to track it down. I still haven’t found the story, but I’m glad I at least found this little nugget.


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