“Rain Delay: Toledo Mud Hens, July 8, 1994,” by Martin Espada

This poem by Martin Espada was published in his 1996 book of poetry titled Imagine the Angels of Bread, and Espada worked as groundskeeper for the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens for a time. This piece paints such a vivid picture of rural America; it’s certainly the kind of scene I would expect to find in a movie set in a small town.

*

Despite the rumors of rain,
the crowd spreads across the grandstand,
a hand-sewn quilt, red and yellow shirts,
blue caps. The ballgame is the county fair
in a season of drought, the carnival
in a town of boarded factories,
so they sing the anthem as if ready
for the next foreign war.
Billboards in the outfield
sell lumber, crayons, newspapers,
oldies radio, three kinds of beer.

The ballplayers waiting for the pitch:
the catcher coiled beneath the umpire’s alert leaning;
the infielders stalking with poised hands;
then the pitcher, a weathervane spinning in the wind;
clear echo of the wood, a ground ball,
throw, applause. The first baseman
shouts advice in Spanish to the pitcher,
and the pitcher nods.

The grandstand celebrates
with the team mascot
prancing pantomime in a duck suit,
a lightning bug called Louie
cheerleading for the electric company.
Men in Caterpillar tractor hats
rise from seats to yell at Louie
about their electric bills.

Ballpark lit in the iron-clouded storm,
a ghost dirigible floating overhead
and a hundred moons misting the grey air.
A train howls in the cornfields.
When the water strikes down,
white uniforms retreat from the diamond,
but in the stands
farm boys with dripping hair
holler their hosannas to the rain.


Kelsie Whitmore makes Atlantic League history

In case you missed it, this past Sunday, May 1st, Kelsie Whitmore became the first woman to start in an Atlantic League baseball game. Nine days previous, Whitmore had appeared in a game with the Staten Island FerryHawks as a pinch runner, making her the first woman to play in a league associated with Major League Baseball. On Sunday, Whitmore’s mark on history went even further when she started the game against the Gastonia Honey Hunters, playing left field and batting ninth.

Kelsie Whitmore (Twitter)

Having previously played for the United States women’s national baseball team from 2014 to 2019, Whitmore just signed with the FerryHawks in April. She was given only a few hours’ notice that she would be starting in Sunday’s game, but later stated, “I wasn’t really nervous because I’ve been mentally just visualizing and getting comfortable. So at the end of the day it is still baseball, and it really felt like another day at the ballpark.”

Whitmore went 0-for-2 as the FerryHawks lost, 10-5. Nevertheless, the game marked a major feat for women in baseball. Thanks for the inspiration, Kelsie Whitmore, and may your success in baseball continue!

USA Today


This day in baseball: The longest hit streak comes to an end

The longest hit streak in professional baseball history ended on August 20, 1919, when Joe Wilhoit of the Wichita Jobbers was held hitless by the Tulsa Oilers in the Western League.  From June 14th to August 19th, 1919, Wilhoit went 153-for-297, giving him a .515 batting average en route to the record streak.  The streak included four home runs, nine triples, and twenty-four doubles.

Joe_Wilhoit

The Sporting News


This day in baseball: Satch draws a crowd

The largest crowd ever to attend a minor league game, an audience of about 57,000, showed up on August 7, 1956 to watch 51-year-old Satchel Paige at the Orange Bowl.  Paige managed to hit a double and to earn the win, leading the Miami Marlins to victory over the Columbus Jets, 6-2.

paige


This day in baseball: No DH for PCL

While the American League is known for its use of the designated hitter, they weren’t the first ones to ever have an interest in utilizing it.  The Pacific Coast League once expressed an interest in implementing the allowance of a designated hitter even before the AL started using it.  However, the PCL’s proposal to use the DH got rejected on March 31, 1961 by the Professional Baseball Rules Committee.  The American League would begin using the DH in 1973.

Pacific_coast_league

By Source, Fair use, Link


This day in baseball: Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field opened on August 18, 1910 in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was the first concrete-and-steel ballpark in the minor leagues and would go on to become the oldest surviving professional baseball park in the country.

Rickwood_Field

Chris Denbow