This poor guy. It almost hurts to read this.
On September 30, 1893, the last day of the season, rookie Duff Cooley of the St. Louis Browns collected six hits to help destroy the Boston Beaneaters, 16-4. The twenty-year-old utility player accomplished the feat by hitting four singles, a double, and a triple at Robison Field in St. Louis.
You can’t tell how much spirit a team has until it starts losing.
I haven’t been able to confirm whether the man who wrote this poem is the same John W. Knight as this guy, but it seems like it might be a strong possibility, no? Regardless, it’s an enjoyable piece.
The game was tied in the bottom of nine
A runner on third and two out
In the dead still air a mosquito’s whine
Was all you could hear, then a shout
“Do something Ben, murder the ball,
For crying out loud get a hit.”
Ben strode to the plate to answer the call
The now restless fans knew this was it
He dug in his right foot then positioned his left
And tapped the plate twice with his bat
Then he pulled it back slowly as to measure its heft
And tensed his whole frame like a cat
The pitcher glared in, the Ump hunkered down
Then the ball on its way like a shot
Ben pulled the trigger, his body unwound
And the ball hit the bat with a “Thock”
This is the sum that the game’s all about
This instant is not just a dream
The split second physics, a hit or an out?
Each player and fan poised to scream
September 26, 1896 marked the season finale for the Cleveland Spiders, which they played against the Louisville Colonels at Eclipse Park. Cleveland outfielder Jesse Burkett collected three hits as the Spiders won, 4-3. Burkett thus finished the season with a .410 batting average, making him the first player to hit .400 in consecutive years, having batted .405 the previous season.
In Elysian Fields, released by Tom Evans this summer, proves itself a fascinating read. The events of this novel take place in the late-1950s, and the feel of the book definitely fits with that time period. Luke Allen is a major league ballplayer in the final season of his career, hoping to have a shot at finally winning a championship before he retires. Luke is having one of the best seasons of his already-Hall of Fame worthy career, due in part to the influence of a series of anonymous notes sent to him from a secret admirer.
The secret admirer, the reader learns, is a poet by the name of Norah Dailey. Norah admires Luke from a distance, and while the two do not physically meet for a very long time, they are nonetheless drawn to one another. The two dance around a desire to meet one another, yet not feeling sure whether they really should.
In the meantime, the reader learns a lot about each character’s background. Each has had a challenging life, in their own way, and each grew up to devote their lives to their respective passions — Luke to baseball and Norah to writing. If you’re the kind of reader who likes to hear about the backstories of a book’s characters (which I am), then you will love the details provided about these two.
As someone who loves baseball and literature, this book proved quite engaging and satiating for both interests. I have long felt that baseball and literature are excellent complements to one another, and the attraction between Luke and Norah serves as a great metaphor for this. Overall, I found the book quite enjoyable. It had hints of The Natural and of Bull Durham in its story line, and yet manages to stand unique, especially in terms of character development. I do wish the story would have continued on a bit longer than it did after Luke and Norah finally do meet, if only to wrap up Luke’s career and establish their relationship a bit more neatly. But again, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I suppose that sometimes, the next chapters of our favorite characters’ lives are best left to the imagination.
Baseball is a skilled game. It’s America’s game — it, and high taxes.