When I was growing up, my parents used to get a paper every Sunday, and I would do exactly what is described in this piece: pull out the sports section and pore over box scores, analyzing the performances of all my favorite players as I lay sprawled across my bedroom floor. Each time I saw a good performance, my heart would leap, but if one of my favorite players had an oh-for-whatever day, a rock would form in my stomach. I’ve never taken the time to study statistics for any other sport the way I did for baseball, but somehow I doubt that any other set of numbers could engender this kind of emotional response.
Titled “Baseball and Classicism,” this poem by Tom Clark was first published in Sleepwalker’s Fate: New and Selected Poems in 1992.
Every day I peruse the box scores for hours
Sometimes I wonder why I do it
Since I am not going to take a test on it
And no one is going to give me money
The pleasure’s something like that of codes
Of deciphering an ancient alphabet say
So as brightly to picturize Eurydice
In the Elysian Fields on her perfect day
The day she went 5 for 5 against Vic Raschi