Here’s a piece by Michael Ceraolo based on the Jun 24, 1946 crash involving a bus carrying the Spokane Indians of Minor League Baseball. The bus crashed on Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State in what is considered one of the worst accidents in the history of American professional sports. Nine players were killed in the accident, and six were injured. Eight of those who died had served in World War II.
Since I was the player-manager
(though only 25),
I will take the responsibility to speak for the rest
Frederick “Marty” Martinez
and me, Mel Cole,
were members of the Spokane Indians team
On June 24, 1946,
enroute to Bremerton for the next day’s game,
our bus swerved to avoid an oncoming car,
falling three hundred feet down and bursting into flames
Marty, George Risk, the three Bobs, and I
were dead at the scene
Vic died on the way to the hospital,
George Lyden died the next day,
and Chris died two days later
Vic, not yet 19, was the best prospect among us;
the rest of us were older and had served during the war,
probably ending any major-league dreams for us
The driver of the oncoming car was never found
Here’s another great poem by Michael Ceraolo. According to the author, this is just one part of what will be a larger collection of work, forthcoming!
The glass shall not persuade me I am old.
But when I begin to miss the fastball,
Even when no Time’s furrows I behold,
The end of my career has come to call.
For all the honors that have covered me
Are but a memory when it’s time to part.
Living in record books for all to see,
Though sometimes disguised in a fancy chart,
It shows me a solid professional;
Mostly I played to my ability.
(This poem is not a confessional
Of those times when I lacked facility).
Overall I hope I gave fans pleasure,
What the game gave me in equal measure.
Here is another “Shakespearean Baseball Sonnet” from Michael Ceraolo, recently published in First Literary Review. It highlights the natural scenic beauty that comes with baseball, which is certainly one of my favorite parts of the game.
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the uncovered seats with sov’reign eye,
Kissing with golden face the outfield’s green,
Shining its beams down from our city’s sky.
But other times the bases clouds to race
Over the ballpark’s unseen pre-game face,
And under the tarp hide all the bases,
Waiting for the storm’s move to other places.
And then when again the sun did shine bright
With only the finest natural light,
The clouds had moved on to another clime
And the game’s splendor would begin on time.
The groundskeepers’ work we do not disdain;
They have saveth today’s game from the rain.
MLB Spring Training means that the first day of spring and Opening Day are both just around the corner! Here’s another great piece from Michael Ceraolo, published by Stanzaic Stylings, in anticipation of another season of baseball.
From you I have been absent in the spring,
Til Opening Day, dressed in all its trim,
Hath put the spirit of youth in everything.
But my love for you is hardly a whim:
I have missed the ballpark’s array of smells
And both teams’ uniforms’ array of hues;
I have missed the stories that my love tells,
A dazzling selection from which to choose;
I have missed the wonder of the ball’s white.
I have missed the wonder of the field’s green.
I wonder if the new will be a fright.
I wonder of those who will make the scene.
It seems winter still with the game away,
Until the team comes home ready to play.
Here’s a poem by Michael Ceraolo, recently published in the poetry journal Ygdrasil. Umpires serve as the police, judge, and jury in any given game, and while it sometimes seems dictatorial, it’s really more of a combination executive-judicial process, I think. The rules of baseball are already in place, and it is up to the umpires to ensure that the rules are followed, and to make decisions when unexpected questions are raised. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.
One of the more egregious dictatorships
was the human home plate umpire,
disregarded the rulebook’s definition of a strike
in favor of a manifesto that said
a strike was whatever he said it was,
a ball was whatever he said it was
(a philosophy rigidly maintained
even when the pronoun changed genders),
not even a modicum of consistency
was shown in their calls
And this was made worse
by the fascist dictum that to even question
the umpire’s calls in this area
was to be exiled from that day’s game
This state of affairs went on for decades
after technology for calling balls and strikes
had been developed but went unused,
eventually the umpires’ union yielded
and the automated strike zone was a reality
It took about half a season
for the players to adjust to it
The home plate umpire remained on duty
to call safe or out on tag plays
If Shakespeare were still alive today, I would like to think he would be a baseball fan. This piece is a fun read, although it does, unfortunately, remind me of how badly the Royals have been playing lately.
Thus can my love excuse the weak offense
Of my hometown team, when the pitching’s good.
No matter the batters can’t reach the fence,
And don’t draw as many walks as they should,
Nor do they blaze the base paths with much speed:
Said offense is a catalog of need.
With good pitching you can stay in the game
And let your weak offense try to keep pace;
Close, low-scoring games have a better name,
Though you’re not any higher in the race
Than a team built the opposite of you;
Both have a similar also-ran view.
And by all except the purist’s measure,
Losing is not an aesthetic pleasure.