“To Believe,” by Marna Owen

This piece, published by Spitball Magazine in 2013, was written by a Tigers fan living in California.  I think it’s safe to say that every baseball fan has the experience outlined in this poem at some point or other.

*

It’s all I can do
To pay attention and drive
While the last half of the 9th is played out
The last battle of the regular season
It’s now or never
A baseball cliche, but who cares?
It is now or never

I listen to games from spring to autumn
Grab the morning paper
Read, critique, coach aloud to no one and anyone
I count the games, study the box scores
When the magic number is 1
I believe in magic

Until the third out.
It happens in the parking lot.

Bludgeoned
I leave my car and wander down the street
Buy some bread I do not want
Stare mindlessly at a purse in a shop window.

Then I see the clerk in the wine store, his head in his hands,
Eyes covered, and I know, I know despair.
I back up, go inside.
He has the game on,
The final season wrap-up among all the bottles of wine.

He lifts his head, looks at me
“Let me know if I can help you,” he says dejectedly.
“Thanks,” I say, and pretend to shop. Just to keep company.

We both know there is nothing to be done.


“Shakespearean Baseball Sonnet #33,” by Michael Ceraolo

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.


Early baseball poem

This piece was published in the short-lived National Daily Baseball Gazette on April 20, 1887, and it is believed to be among the first-ever poems inspired by the game of baseball.  I wasn’t able to find a title nor an author for the piece, but it is interesting to read, including the note about butterfingers.

*

Then dress, then dress, brave gallants all,
Don uniforms amain;
Remember fame and honor call
Us to the field again.
No shrewish tears shall fill our eye
When the ball club’s in our hand,
If we do lose we wil not sigh,
Nor plead a butter* hand.
Let piping swain and craven jay
Thus weep and puling cry,
Our business is like men to play,
Or know the reason why.

*Hence the term “butter-fingers,” which, twenty years ago, was applied to a man or a boy who didn’t hold a ball.


“A Baseball Ballad,” Author unknown

Just as fair warning: this poem is pretty depressing.  Published in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1883, it describes a player who has passed away.  But wow, whoever he was (real or imagined), he sounded like quite the ballplayer.

*

J. smith is dead. That fine young man
We ne’er shall see him more,
He was a member of our club
Since 1864.

His private virtues were immense,
His manner was free and bluff,
He wore a paper collar, and
Was never known to muff.

He rarely took a drink more strong
Then lemonade or pop ;
He hated drunkards, and was a
Magnificent shortstop.

His nose was Roman, and his eyes
Continually were peeled ;
He made a splended umpire, and
A beautiful left field.

His hair was red, and shingled close ;
Much sunburned was his face,
He never showered with more effect
Than on second base.

Being a man, he had his faults,
As likewise have we all ;
He felt a preference for the New
York regulation ball.

Though not a matrimonial man,
He dearly loved a match,
And, like his sisters, had but few
Superiors on the catch.

He had a noble mind, as eke
A very supple wrist ;
And when he pitched he gave the ball
His own peculiar twist.

Of politics and church affairs
He held restricted views ;
His feet were usually encased
In canvas, hob nailed shoes.

But he is gone. With ins and outs
Forever he is done ;
He broke his heart and hurt his spleen
In making a home run.

His body we have planted now,
His soul is in the sky ;
The angels reached from heaven down
And took him on the fly.


“Poem for My Father,” by Quincy Troupe

This piece was published in 1996 in Avalanche, a collection of poetry by Quincy Troupe.  It is not only a piece from a son to his father, but also a great tribute to the Negro Leagues.

*

for Quincy T. Trouppe Sr.

father, it was an honor to be there, in the dugout
with you, the glory of great black men swinging their lives
as bats, at tiny white balls
burning in at unbelievable speeds, riding up & in & out
a curve breaking down wicked, like a ball falling off a table
moving away, snaking down, screwing its stitched magic
into chitlin circuit air, its comma seams spinning
toward breakdown, dipping, like a hipster
bebopping a knee-dip stride, in the charlie parker forties
wrist curling, like a swan’s neck
behind a slick black back
cupping an invisible ball of dreams

& you there, father, regal, as an african, obeah man
sculpted out of wood, from a sacred tree, of no name, no place, origin
thick branches branching down, into cherokee & someplace else lost
way back in africa, the sap running dry
crossing from north carolina into georgia, inside grandmother mary’s
womb, where your mother had you in the violence of that red soil
ink blotter news, gone now, into blood graves
of american blues, sponging rococo
truth long gone as dinosaurs
the agent-oranged landscape of former names
absent of african polysyllables, dry husk, consonants there
now, in their place, names, flat, as polluted rivers
& that guitar string smile always snaking across
some virulent, american, redneck’s face
scorching, like atomic heat, mushrooming over nagasaki
& hiroshima, the fever blistered shadows of it all
inked, as etchings, into sizzled concrete
but you, there, father, through it all, a yardbird solo
riffing on bat & ball glory, breaking down the fabricated myths
of white major league legends, of who was better than who
beating them at their own crap
game, with killer bats, as bud powell swung his silence into beauty
of a josh gibson home run, skittering across piano keys of bleachers
shattering all manufactured legends up there in lights
struck out white knights, on the risky edge of amazement
awe, the miraculous truth sluicing through
steeped & disguised in the blues
confluencing, like the point at the cross
when a fastball hides itself up in a slider, curve
breaking down & away in a wicked, sly grin
curved & posed as an ass-scratching uncle tom, who
like old sachel paige delivering his famed hesitation pitch
before coming back with a hard, high, fast one, is slicker
sliding, & quicker than a professional hitman—
the deadliness of it all, the sudden strike
like that of the “brown bomber’s” crossing right
of sugar ray robinson’s, lightning, cobra bite

& you, there, father, through it all, catching rhythms
of chono pozo balls, drumming, like conga beats into your catcher’s mitt
hard & fast as “cool papa” bell jumping into bed
before the lights went out

of the old, negro baseball league, a promise, you were
father, a harbinger, of shock waves, soon come


“A Change of Heart,” by Barbara Feeney

This poem, published by the New York Daily News in 1958, was written from the perspective of a Dodgers fan.  Understandably, she’s feeling a bit conflicted about the team’s move to the west coast.

*

The Bums are gone; good, I’m
glad!
O’Malley used to make me
mad.
Those old short fences, ciggie
ads
And bright beer signs were
passing fads.
That winning spirit couldn’t
last
When Robby’s playing days
were past.
The ecstacy of
’55
When Podres kept our hopes
alive
Are locked with scorecards,
photographs
Forgotten — with the million
laughs
Of bleacher days. But who
cares now?
I’ll never miss them,
anyhow.

But, then — a bulletin comes
through
A flash from
WNEW
It’s Campanella! And they
say
That Roy was nearly
killed today.
Paralysis! The tragic
end
Of Campy’s ever-winning
bend.
Who can forget the impish
grin
Accompanying every Dodger
win?
The ever-crouching
“39”
Assuring fans that all is
fine
Thrice MVP, the catching
ace
Who figured in each pennant
race
Was loved by each and every
fan
Who rooted for that Brooklyn
clan.
And now, the world has tumbled
down,
The prayers of a united
town
Today are flooding heaven’s
gate
For Brooklyn’s favorite
battery mate.

We never thought we’d feel this
way
When first they took out for
LA
But Campy’s crash has taught
us all
We’re Dodger fans still,
Spring to Fall.
No matter where they choose to
roam,
The hearts of Brooklyn are
their home.


“Unhinged Stream of Consciouslessness,” by Gershon Wolf

Here’s a rather unusual and playful piece written by Gershon Wolf earlier this year.  It features some interesting plays on words to create a bit of a mind-twisting puzzle.

*

Backwards forwards upside down
Driving in reverse back through town
Yahoo.com said moo — landed in Honolu
This poem is insane and so are Yu

Darvish and awl of you hoo(!) still think
The Chicago Cubs have a (phat!) chance
To win it all egg-N with that letter
“C” on their pin ~ striped pants

Cuz miracles Kant Happ en more than
Every century oar sew. The Cubs of had theirs
And that’s awl eye no about baseball, faceball, and
Spaceball, if that’s really a game. Well, me mum said it is
And that ends this horr-if(?)-ick
Poe – aim
Four Now Brown Cow