This poem is a bit of a deviation from what one usually finds in the world of baseball writing. It doesn’t revolve around baseball per se, but around an imaginary back story to some pieces of broken glass found around home plate of a baseball diamond. This piece was originally published in 1999 in Selfwolf.
The guys who drank quarts of Busch last night
here by the backstop of this baseball diamond
had names given them by their mothers and fathers—
“Jack” and “Kenny” let us say.
Jack might be
a skinny guy in a black fake-leather jacket,
he’s twenty-five, his gray pants are too loose on his hips,
his jaws always have these little black extra hairs,
his mother won’t talk to him on the phone,
she lives on french fries and ketchup,
he hasn’t been able to send her any cash
in the last two years, ever since he lost
his job unloading produce trucks at Pathmark;
Jack’s father disappeared when he was ten.
“No big deal,” Jack says, “he was a bastard anyway,
he used to flatten beer cans on the top of my head.”
Kenny offers a laugh-noise. He’s heard all that before.
Kenny is forty-eight, a flabby man with reddened skin,
he is employed at the Italian Market selling fish
just four hours a day but his shirts hold the smell;
his female companion Deena left him a note last month:
“You owe me $12 chocolate $31 wine $55 cable TV plus
donuts—I have had it—taking lamp and mirror
they are mine.” Kenny hasn’t seen her since.
He hangs with Jack because Jack talks loud
as if the world of cops and people with full-time jobs
could be kept at bay by talking, talking loud . . .
(I’m talking gently and imaginatively here
as if the world of bums and jerks could be kept far off—)
Jack and Kenny. (Or two other guys dark to me with wounds
oozing in Philadelphia ways less ready to narrate.)
Last night at midnight they got cheesesteaks at Casseloni’s
and bought four quarts at the Fireside Tavern
and wandered into this park. After one quart of Busch
Jack said he was Lenny Dykstra
and found a stick for his bat. “Pitch to me asshole” he said
so Kenny went to the mound and pitched his bottle
for want of anything better and Jack swung in the dark and missed;
Kenny’s bottle smashed on home plate and Jack heard in the sound
the absurdity of all his desiring since seventh grade,
absurdity of a skinny guy who blew everything since seventh
when he hit home runs and chased Joan Rundle around the gym
so Jack took his own empty bottle and smashed it down
amid the brown shards of Kenny’s bottle.
Then they leaned on the backstop to drink the other two quarts
and they both grew glum and silent
and when they smashed these bottles it was like
what else would they do? Next morning
Nick and I come to the park with a rubber ball
and a miniature bat. Nick is not quite three
but he knows the names of all the Phillies starters
and he knows the area around home plate is not supposed to be
covered with jagged pieces of brown glass. Like a good dad
I warn him not to touch it and we decide to establish
a new home plate closer to the mound (there’s no trash can
handy). “Who put that glass there?” Nick wants to know
and to make a long story short I say “Bad People.”
Nick says “Bad? How come?”
On May 1, 1906, Brooklyn pitcher Mal Eason had been on the losing end of a no-hitter against Johnny Lush of the Philadelphia Phillies. Then, on July 20th of that same season, Mal Eason managed to hurl a no-hitter of his own, this time finding himself on the victorious side of a 2-0 game agains the St. Louis Cardinals.
On May 23, 1890, the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Alleghenys steal a combined seventeen bases in a single game, setting a National League record that still stands today. New York won the contest, 17-10.
The overall Major League single game record for combined stolen bases was set on April 22, 1890 by Philadelphia and Syracuse in the American Association.
On April 11th of the 1907 season, the Giants had their home opener against the Phillies. The game took place following a major snowstorm, and the New York grounds crew had been forced to shovel large amounts of snow to the outer edges of the field. When the Giants fell behind in the game, restless fans started hurling snowballs at one another. In spite of numerous warnings from Bill Klem, the home plate umpire, the snowball fights continued. A frustrated Klem finally called the game in the top of the ninth, and the Giants were forced to forfeit the game to the Phillies.
On October 21, 1993, Curt Schilling became the first Phillies pitcher to throw a shutout in a World Series game. Schilling shut down the Blue Jays, 2-0, giving up only five hits.
On July 26, 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies traded right-handed pitcher Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for first baseman Travis Lee and pitchers Omar Daal, Vicente Padilla, and Nelson Figueroa. With Arizona in 2001, Schilling went 22–6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2001, leading the majors in wins and innings pitched. He played a major role in the playoffs, going 4–0 with a 1.12 ERA. The Diamondbacks went on to defeat the Yankees in seven games in the 2001 World Series.
I came across this story this morning, and I feel like it would be a crime not to share. The Lakewood BlueClaws, a Class A affiliate of the Phillies, will be wearing these jerseys for this Saturday’s game against the West Virginia Power.
Admittedly, these kind of look like something a grandma would wear, but being a cat person, it does make me happy to see something like this. Additional information about the CATurday event can be found on the BlueClaws website here.