This poem was published in 2017 through Poetry Soup. I love how this piece captures the fun details of playing sandlot baseball. Leave it to the parents to force the game to end in a tie.
Some walked, others biked
As we gathered at the park
There was Jimmy, Peewee
Ricky, Billy and Mark
From blocks around, they’d descend
For the Sandlot World Series
It was friend against friend
There were seven to a side
The bat was tossed to Bob
It was fist top of fist
’til a thumb crossed the knob
Back and forth went the score
Our pride made us care
The other team would storm back
And the tempers would flare
I was Mickey Mantle
Stuck out in right field
With a gun for an arm
Two bare feet for wheels
In inning number seven
And getting quite late
The tying run once again
Strode across the plate
After Tommy struck out
It was our turn to bat
We were cheering and yelling
Shaking our rally hats
Peewee lined a single
He was always big trouble
Then Steve, my brother
Lucked out with a double
It was second and third
With nobody out
When I stepped to the plate
Jimmy’s mom gave a shout
Then I heard my dad
Holler,”Time to eat”
The game ended in a tie
As none wanted to get beat.
In nineteen sixty six
On a hot August day
There were fourteen friends
Who gathered to play
Not the first nor the last
That ended a little teary
As supper time brought a tie
To the Sandlot World Series
People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws: Age, appearance, personality. Bill James and Mathematics cuts straight through that. Billy, of the twenty thousand notable players for us to consider, I believe that there’s a championship team of twenty five people that we can afford. Because everyone else in baseball undervalues them – like an island of misfit toys.
~Peter Brand, Moneyball
I’m of two minds about the sentiment in this strip. On one hand, the purist in me wants to respond in outrage: “How dare you! You just don’t understand baseball nor appreciate its intricacies!” On the other hand, playing a video game is more active while sitting and watching a ballgame is inherently more passive. You’re more in the game when playing it on a console than you are when watching others do it. I suppose the argument can be made that the kid could just go out and play baseball for real, but how easy is it, really, to get together enough folks for a pickup game anymore?
Of course, this year’s Red Sox don’t quite work with this joke. Perhaps I should have replaced them with the Royals.
A couple recently got a divorce and they decided to move away from each other and go their separate ways. So, the father sat down and talked with his son and he said “Son, I think that it is best that you go and live with your mother.”
The kid said, “No, I won’t, because she beats me.”
Then, the mother came in and talked to the son, “I think it is best that you go and live with your father.”
“NO. NO,” he replied, “He beats me.”
So then, both the parents sat down and said to their son, “Well, if we both beat you, then who do you want to live with?”
The son said, “The Red Sox. They can’t beat anyone.”
This piece was written by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant. In 1965, Grant became the first black pitcher to win 20 games in a season in the American League and the first black pitcher to win a World Series game for the American League, throwing two complete game World Series victories.
Life is like a game of baseball,
You play it every day.
It isn’t just the breaks you get,
But the kind of game you play.
So stop and look your whole team over,
And you’ll find dedication there.
You’re bound to be a winner,
With men who really care.
Your pitcher’s name is Courage,
You need him in the game.
For faith and trust your keystone men,
The grounders they will tame.
Your center fielder is very fast,
Though small and hard to see.
So watch him, son, when he gets,
The ball. He’s Opportunity.
In left field there’s Ambition,
Never let him shirk.
For in right field there’s a husky man,
I’m told his name is Work.
At first base there’s Religion,
He’s stood the test of time.
At third base there’s brotherhood,
The stalwart of the nine.
Your catcher’s name is Humor,
He’s important to the scheme.
For with honor warming in the bull pen,
The game is always clean.
With Love on the bench,
You’ve perfection no less.
With a winning team,
And joy and happiness.
Your other team is Strong, son,
Greed, Hatred, Envy and Defeat.
Are four strong infielders,
You’ll have to buck to make your game complete.
Deceitfulness and a man called Waste,
Are always playing hard.
Selfishness and jealousy,
None can you disregard.
Carelessness and Falsehood,
Are the big boys in the pen.
You’ll have to swing hard, son,
When you come up to them.
There’s one more man you’ll have to watch,
He’s always very near.
He’s the pitcher on that team,
And I’m told his name is Fear.
This game will not be easy,
There’ll be trouble, there’ll be strife.
To make the winning runs, my boy,
For this game is played on the field of life.
So stand behind your team, my boy,
There’ll be many who’ll applaud.
Just remember that you’re the player,
And the umpire here is God.
Poor Calvin. It’s hard to enjoy being a part of something when you have no understanding of what’s going on.
This piece was published in the June 1988 issue of Poetry. I like the ephemeral feel of this piece. The use of the words “dream” and “memory” are so indicative and appropriate.
It took time to study who was missing
from the dream ball club that paraded
through the dark in uniforms and numbers
holding up posters of the lost teammate
as if campaigning for their man.
I had to walk the dream railroad track again
where my son followed me at first, then took
the lead, balanced, leaped forward over the ties,
And to sit with the inquisitor who wore
my dachshund around his neck like a precious
fur with lacquered eyes.
I had to listen then to memory,
your fastball, your grand slams out of the park.
And go back to the bleachers at Yankee Stadium
where you took me at 7 though I was not the son
whose hear, that sly courser, unseated him.
He was the one you saved your prize for,
the baseball Babe Ruth signed.
At the game you tried to show me what you saw
but I was gabbing about something else:
another hot dog, how many more minutes.
It took time, Father, to see
you swinging, connecting.