This piece by Lillian Morrison is short and sweet, and, at first, I admittedly found it confusing. Each line reads like something you’d find printed on an elementary school valentine, which I later realized might be intentional. In the 1960s, Morrison published a book titled Yours Till Niagara Falls: A Book of Autograph Verses, an anthology of poetry intended for children.
Yours till the pinch hits Yours till the 7th inning stretches Yours till pennant races Yours till pop flies Yours till the home runs Yours till the line drives Yours till the double plays Yours till batters box
Here is a short little haiku poem that I think captures the unpredictability of baseball. As fans, it can be easy to criticize and to think we could run a team better than it is being run, but deep down, we usually know that isn’t really the case.
home team us did stun after game was over and done they had lost by one
they should entertain instead of driving insane more team needs to train
in future must draft players team will really need to make success complete
worry and worry baseball has really become total guessing game
mind became a blank who would win game after game God always will know
after players die found in hall of fame in heaven glad to see them there
I’ve posted a few variations of the classic poem, “Casey At the Bat.” Each version of the poem follows the general cadence and length of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s original. What’s unique and fun about this nonet by Michael Ceraolo is not only the brevity of it, but also the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor embedded within.
It was now the bottom of the ninth Two on, two out, two runs behind Situational drama Superstar at the plate First pitch: strike one called Strike two called, then swing and miss Casey kays
This poem isn’t primarily about baseball, but the game is mentioned, and Robert Frost spoke about baseball on more than one occasion. And this reading of the piece is quite enjoyable. There’s always something about hearing out loud it from the author himself that adds something to a bit of writing.
When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy’s been swinging them. But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay. Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground, Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm, I should prefer to have some boy bend them As he went out and in to fetch the cows- Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, Whose only play was what he found himself, Summer or winter, and could play alone. One by one he subdued his father’s trees By riding them down over and over again Until he took the stiffness out of them, And not one but hung limp, not one was left For him to conquer. He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon And so not carrying the tree away Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise To the top branches, climbing carefully With the same pains you use to fill a cup Up to the brim, and even above the brim. Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, Kicking his way down through the air to the ground. So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be. It’s when I’m weary of considerations, And life is too much like a pathless wood Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs Broken across it, and one eye is weeping From a twig’s having lashed across it open. I’d like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better. I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
This is a great reading of Dan Gutman’s sequel to the classic poem, “Casey At the Bat.” The lady reading this publication of “Casey Back At Bat” does a really good job, and the illustrations in the book are fun to look at. Here we learn about why some of the biggest landmarks of the world look the way they do, and we also learn about Casey’s latest batting adventure.
The publication date for this piece is unknown, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was written in the mid-to-late-1870s, around the time of the fall of the National Association and the beginnings of the National League. The poem is full of imagery and metaphor, speaking of “the collected debris of memories” and “New fortresses / Stretch their fledgling arms / And puncture the sky / With abbreviated zeal.” I can just imagine team owners clinking glasses to cheers of “Long live the National League!” as they concluded their meeting at the Grand Central Hotel.
No sun, Now rubble, The collected debris of memories Echoes An anguished ring through the corridors of Manhattan Canyons:
Where are we going?
From where To where Do we step?
December… a month… a day… a time logged on the fresh pages of history… the first and only real entry… a league …a new league… a microscopic legion of men bearing witness to the birth, unfurling its colors on an industrial land to detract
from the former failure…
The National Association is dead, Long live the National League!
From rubble to rubble, From dust to dust, New fortresses Stretch their fledgling arms And puncture the sky With abbreviated zeal.
Like so many transients Awaiting a derailed train, The others come And never go.
The American Association is dead The Union Association is dead The Players League is dead. All gone, All dead,
This haiku was first published in Full Count: The Book of Mets Poetry. One of the fun things about haiku is that a writer can cram a lot of imagery into three very short lines, and this piece does just that.
Sun shines on diamond, two birds on a citrus limb ball meets bat, a crack!
The 1927 New York Yankees featured the renowned Murderer’s Row, which included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. The team won 110 games that year, and 1927 also happened to be the season when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs.
This piece by Robert L. Harrison was first published in 1999.
Gather ’round you fans of baseball you lovers of season past, let me take you back to the greatest team that ever played on grass.
Guided by Miller Huggins known as “murderer’s row,” never was such a string of pearls so feared this side of Hell.
Greedy was this awesome bunch with Ruth and Gehrig leading the punch, and Hoyt and Moore on the mound shooting all the batters down.
Gasping crowds assemble like sinners in a tent, watching all the other teams trying to repent.
God blessed those boys of summer those pin-striped renegades, with a winning passion while others saw only the haze.
Gathering in the rosebuds by playing excellent ball, called the “five o’clock lightning” taking the pennant in the fall.
Gone were any pretenders to the throne no on stood wherever these Yankees roamed, twenty-five men made up this team and all had a year better than their dreams.
William DeWolf Hopper was an American actor, singer, comedian, and theatrical producer during the late-19th and into the early-20th centuries. Born in New York Citty, DeWolf Hopper grew to become a star of vaudeville and musical theater, but he became best known for performing the popular baseball poem “Casey at the Bat.”
A lifelong baseball enthusiast and New York Giants fan, Hopper first performed Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s then-unknown poem “Casey at the Bat” to the Giants and Chicago Cubs on August 14, 1888. Co-performer Digby Bell called Hopper “the biggest baseball crank that ever lived. Physically, of course, he is a corker, but when I say big I mean big morally and intellectually. Why, he goes up to the baseball [Polo] grounds at One Hundred and Fifty-fifth street after the matinees on Saturday, and he travels this six miles simply to see, perhaps, the two final innings, and any one can imagine the rapidity with which he must scrape off the makeup and get into his street clothes in order to secure even this much. But he says the Garrison finishes are worth it, and he is perfectly right. Hopper always was a baseball crank, long before the public knew anything about it.”
Hopper helped make Thayer’s poem famous and was often called upon to give his colorful, melodramatic recitation, which he did about 10,000 times over the course of his career.
Peter Balakian is an Armenian American writer and academic who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2016 for his collection, Ozone Journal. This collection includes the poem below, which shines a light on the fact that even as Roger Maris hit his historic 61st home run during the 1961 season, the world continued to move with myriad historic events simultaneously.
All summer the patio drifted in and out of light the color of margarine; days were blue, not always sky blue. At night the word Algeria circulated among the grown-ups.
A patient of my father had whooping cough, the words drifted into summer blue. The evenings spun into stadium lights. Kennedy’s hair blew across the screen. Castro was just a sofa.
I saw James Meredith’s face through a spread of leaves on the evening news. The fridge sweat with orangeade, the trees whooped some nights in rain—
a kid down the street kept coughing into his mitt. Static sounds from Comiskey and Fenway came though the vinyl, the plastic, the pillow—
So when it left Stallard’s hand, when Roger Maris’s arms whipped the bat and the bullet-arc carried into the chasm the disaffections at 344 ft. near the bullpen fence
under the green girder holding up the voices rising into the façade and over the river where a Baptist choir on Lenox Ave. was sending up a variation of Sweet Chariot into the traffic on the FDR that was jammed at the Triboro
where a derrick was broken and the cables of its arms picked up the star-blast of voices coming over the Stadium façade spilling down the black next-game sign into the vector of a tilted Coke bottle on a billboard
at the edge of the river where a cloud of pigeons rose over Roosevelt Island. It was evening by the time the cars unjammed and the green of the outfield unfroze and the white arc had faded into skyline before fall came
full of boys throwing themselves onto the turf with inexplicable desire for the thing promised. The going. Then gone.