“Fan Valentines,” by Lillian Morrison

This piece by Lillian Morrison is short and sweet, and, at first, I admittedly found it confusing. Each line reads like something you’d find printed on an elementary school valentine, which I later realized might be intentional. In the 1960s, Morrison published a book titled Yours Till Niagara Falls: A Book of Autograph Verses, an anthology of poetry intended for children.


Yours till the pinch hits
Yours till the 7th inning stretches
Yours till pennant races
Yours till pop flies
Yours till the home runs
Yours till the line drives
Yours till the double plays
Yours till batters box

The Ball State University Singers perform “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

I love this arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” performed by The Ball State University Singers. Apparently this was recorded thirteen years ago, but the video has only been viewed a little over 1100 times, and I feel this deserves to be higher. It’s a bit showtune-ish, but it’s a fun arrangement, and they even sing the full 1908 version, not just the bit we hear at the ballpark.

The Rookie (2002)

The Rookie movie

Not to be confused with the television series bearing the same name, The Rookie is a film that had been on my to-watch list for a while. It is a story based on the real-life story of Jim Morris who made his Major League debut at age 35. 

The movie begins when Jim Morris is a teenager. Jim’s father serves in the Navy and he moves the family throughout the country, all the while disapproving of his son’s dream of playing Major League Baseball. When the family moves to Big Lake, Texas, Jim is crushed to learn that the town cares nothing for baseball, preferring football instead, and he thus loses out on the opportunity to play high school ball.

Jim does get a chance to continue playing ball when he is drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers. However, a shoulder injury put an end to his dream of making it to the big leagues.

Fast forward a number of years later, and Jim is married with three young children. He still lives in Big Lake, teaching high school science and coaching the high school baseball team, the Owls (a team that, I imagine, he started up himself). The Owls aren’t having a great season, however, largely due to in part to the team’s low morale resulting from little support from the community.

One day after practice, the team catcher offers to play catch with Jim. The catcher is stunned to discover that Jim can still fire an impressive fastball, and it is not long before the rest of the team is let in on the secret. The Owls believe that Jim could possibly pitch in the major leagues and offer him a deal: if the Owls can win district and make the state playoffs, Jim will try out again. Desperate to motivate the team into winning, Jim accepts the deal.

The Owls do end up winning district, and holding up his end of the bargain, Jim shows up to a tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The scouts discover that Jim is able to consistently throw a baseball at 98 mph, and Jim is told that he could be signed to a minor league deal. After much deliberation and discussion with his wife, Jim decides to go, and he is assigned to the minor league Class AA Orlando Rays.

Jim moves through the minors quickly, first getting moved to the Class AAA Durham Bulls, and then finally, he is called up to the majors with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Coincidentally, the Devil Rays are in Arlington, Texas to play the Rangers at the time Jim gets the call, and he calls his family to let them know the good news. Not only does Jim’s family show up for the game, but the players of the high school Owls team rally much of the town to attend the game, as well. Late in the game, with Tampa Bay losing badly, Jim is called in to pitch to Royce Clayton and end the inning. Jim gets a strikeout against Clayton on three straight fastballs. During postgame interviews, Jim notices his father had also come to the game. Jim’s father admits how special it was to be able to see his son play in the majors and apologizes for not supporting Jim before.

I really enjoyed this film. I love that it is based on a true story (I feel a need to do more reading up on Jim Morris now), and I love how it portrays the conflict between pursuing your dreams and trying to be a responsible adult. Definitely a worthwhile family film.

“Lost by One When Game was Done,” by James Horn

Here is a short little haiku poem that I think captures the unpredictability of baseball. As fans, it can be easy to criticize and to think we could run a team better than it is being run, but deep down, we usually know that isn’t really the case.


home team us did stun
after game was over and done
they had lost by one

they should entertain
instead of driving insane
more team needs to train

in future must draft
players team will really need
to make success complete

worry and worry
baseball has really become
total guessing game

mind became a blank
who would win game after game
God always will know

after players die
found in hall of fame in heaven
glad to see them there

Major League II

Major League II

I seem to be on a Major League kick lately, though this viewing was prompted by coming across Major League II available for free on YouTube. Released in 1994, this flick serves as sequel to the original Major League. Many of the original cast returned for this installment of the series, including Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Corbin Bernsen. However, Omar Epps replaced Wesley Snipes in playing Willie Mays Hayes, and a number of new cast members also appear in this film.

In this installment, the Indians have become complacent and arrogant after their success in the previous season/movie and they start losing games due to their poor performance and attitude. For example, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn is so caught up in trying to impress the media and his new girlfriend that he has lost his fastball and his edge. Instead, he begins to rely on ineffective breaking balls, for which he has given nicknames such as “Eliminator” and “Humiliator.” Former voodoo practitioner Pedro Cerrano has converted to Buddhism, which has made him so peaceful and passive that he’s lost his power as a hitter. Willie Mays Hayes has become a movie star and has injured his knee, making him unable to run fast or hit well, and he therefore now fancies himself a power hitter.

Meanwhile, Roger Dorn, the former third baseman, has bought the team from Rachel Phelps, the former owner who wanted them to lose, but he doesn’t have the funds to pay the players or improve the facilities. Additionally, at the end of spring training, manager Lou Brown informs catcher Jake Taylor that he is keeping him on as a coach rather than a player. Jake is upset and rejects the offer at first, but then reluctantly accepts the position.

The team also faces challenges from the newer members of its roster. Jack Parkman is a selfish and arrogant catcher who joins the Indians, but later leaves for their rivals, the Chicago White Sox. Isuro “Kamikaze” Tanaka is a Japanese outfielder who clashes with Cerrano over their cultural differences. Rube Baker is a rookie catcher who has trouble throwing the ball back to the pitcher because he gets nervous.

Faced with no other options, Dorn sells the Indians back to Rachel Phelps. With the Indians positioned in last place, Phelps decides this is the perfect opportunity to revive her dream to try to move the team to Florida. The team continues on in a chaotic, disunified vein that culminates in an all-team on-field brawl that leads to their ejection.

In the end, the Indians manage to overcome their difficulties and take off on a hot streak that allows them to make it to the playoffs, where they face the White Sox in a decisive game. The players have regained their old spark and end the film with a World Series berth.

All in all, I can’t say I enjoyed this film as much as the original. It has its moments, for sure, but it is not the original Major League. It largely mirrors the plot of just about every other sports sequel — a team growing complacent and losing its spark. As someone who enjoys baseball movies in general, I can’t honestly discourage anyone from watching this movie, because a part of me did still enjoy it. Just don’t go in with any expectations that it will match its predecessor.

“Casey At the Bat (A Nonet),” by Michael Ceraolo

I’ve posted a few variations of the classic poem, “Casey At the Bat.” Each version of the poem follows the general cadence and length of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s original. What’s unique and fun about this nonet by Michael Ceraolo is not only the brevity of it, but also the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor embedded within.


It was now the bottom of the ninth
Two on, two out, two runs behind
Situational drama
Superstar at the plate
First pitch: strike one called
Strike two called, then
swing and miss