The author, Charles Ghigna, was kind enough to send this piece my way a while back. It’s one of those ‘what if’ types of pieces that we can all relate to on some level. I’m impressed that he managed to garner an invitation to spring training to try out; it’s a shame it didn’t work out for him.
Like many kids of the 1950s, I loved baseball.
I played on teams throughout my youth and in 1964
I received an invitation to spring training camp
for a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’m still waiting to hear from them.
In the meantime, I’ve been writing a few poems…
I may have lost a step or two,
(Or four, or six, or eight).
My bat speed may have slowed a bit,
(Much like a rusty gate).
My fastball may have lost some pop,
My slider may have slid,
But when I dream of baseball,
I become a kid.
A glint of steel in my young stare,
Swagger in my stride,
I saunter to the plate
With confidence and pride.
A fastball down the middle,
I swing with all my might,
Old Rawlings soars past the crowd
And deep into the night.
There I am in summer’s glow
Warmed by hometown cheers,
Rounding third and striding home,
Back to my boyhood years.
Suddenly I’m sixty-nine
Asleep in winter’s sun,
Dreaming of what might have been
When I was twenty-one.
Still I wait to take the call,
To hear them say my name,
An old man dreaming of the day
He played a young man’s game.
Babe Adams of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched an entire 21-inning game without issuing a single walk on July 17, 1914. It was the longest game pitched by a single pitcher in big league history in which that pitcher did not concede a base-on-balls. In the top of the 21st inning, Larry Doyle’s home run proved the deciding hit, giving the New York Giants the 3-1 victory. Rube Marquard of the Giants, who also went the distance in the game, allowed only two walks and gained the victory.
Poking around at some Library of Congress photos, I encountered the photograph below. In it, we see Vince DiMaggio sliding into home as George Stovall signals “safe.” The picture was taken in February 1943, during the off-season when DiMaggio had worked in the California Shipbuilding Corporation shipyards since the previous fall. George Stovall was a former Cleveland Indians manager and had been working in the shipyards as a checker for over a year at the time of this photo. I’m curious as to where the rest of the playing field is, in relation to the action in this picture — it’s difficult to discern. Nevertheless, I do enjoy what this photo represents: a culture in which a love for baseball runs so deep that these men take advantage of every moment they can to indulge in a quick pick-up game.
In a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 25, 1905, outfielder Jack McCarthy of the Cubs gunned down three base runners at home plate. He was the first, and only, player to accomplish this feat during the twentieth century. All three of these plays resulted in double plays, and the Cubs defeated the Pirates, 2-1.
A couple years ago, I posted about Dock Ellis’s no-hitter, thrown while high on LSD on June 12, 1970 against the Padres. Last night I found this video from No Mas depicting the story in cartoon form. Artist James Blagden used the original audio from an interview Ellis recorded with radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel in 2008 to create this short, animated film. It’s quite amusing (and full of flashing colors, so be forewarned). Enjoy!
In April of last year, Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado hit a ground ball to third in a game against the Pirates. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez noticed something was off about the ball as soon as he fielded it, but had the presence of mind to throw to first anyways. Unfortunately for Alvarez, Maldonado’s hit had literally caused the cover of the ball to peel back, which prevented him from being able to put any speed on his throw. As the broadcasters point out, Maldonado had literally knocked the cover off the ball!
The final game of the first-ever World Series was played in October 13, 1903 between the Boston Americans (Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In Game 8 of the best-of-nine Series, Boston defeated Pittsburgh, 3-0, to take the championship 5 games to 3. Boston’s Bill Dinneen earned the victory over Deacon Phillippe of the Pirates.