“New York Divorce,” by Robert L. Harrison

This piece, published in 1999, is short and leaves a lot open to interpretation. It does leave me wondering if the baseball division was a contributing factor to the division in the relationship.

*

Relaxing with his son
watching the Mets,
sharing the good times
together.
The court gave him
the best home dates
to root for their team

Relaxing with her son
watching the Yankees,
sharing the good times
together.
The court gave her
the best home dates
to root for their team

as a family.


“Little League Strikeouts Ain’t Pretty,” by Robert L. Harrison

To be fair, a strikeout at any level is rarely pretty — at least, if you’re the batter. This piece by Robert Harrison was published in January 2013.

*

With sadness I report
about the last ball
your son bought

It was both high and low
and curved before
the final blow

It was flying fast
a white meteor
that he let pass

And so I say with pity
that this scene
was not too pretty

For even I did cry
after he let
that ball go by


“Finding Casey’s Card,” by Robert L. Harrison

I had never considered the possibility that the mighty, fabled Casey would have a baseball card, but Robert Harrison has managed to spin an entire tale about it.  Seen as even more valuable than a card for either Mantle or Cobb, the Casey baseball card causes quite an uproar in this piece.

*

The outlook wasn’t great for
finding Casey’s card.
The dealers denied they had him
as I fought against the mob.
And then as Cooney was seen in mint
and Barrows appeared the same,
a sense of elation came to me in this baseball hobby game.

A cardshark got fed up and passed me in despair.
The rest clung to their hobby hopes
and prayed the Casey card was near;
They thought, by the Topps high numbers,
if we could only find his card,
we’ll pay any price even if it’s marred.

Then Flynn (Casey’s mate) was found in very good-
a crease along his neckline stretched into his wood.
So they all bid to possess that crazy players card
until all turned to silence when Mr. Mint
got the final nod.

After Flynn, they found Jimmy Blake,
a tobacco card mistake;
For Blake was frayed and ugly and had
scratches on him from head to toe,
and the collectors were not interested
for the price he fetched was very low.

Then from fifty baseball card collectors
there rose a mighty roar.
It echoed from every table, it bounced off the floor,
it was carried by the newsmen
and was heard outside the door,
for the Casey card, the rarest card
now everyone saw.

There was a full gloss in Casey’s picture
as he posed beside the plate
there were full white borders and a hawkish
look upon his face.
And from an old shoebox he was raised above the crowd.
This symbol of the hobby now had everyone aroused.

Ten thousand dollars was offered;
the smell of gum hung in the air.
Five thousand more, said another,
as he took up on this dare,
Then while the price was raising
beyond the hopes of hobby folk,
a disbelief filled the children’s minds;
for they thought this all was a joke.

For this gem-mint card was dropped
and fluttered everywhere;
the rarest of cards went flipping
and gave them all a scare.
And as the people scattered,
poor Casey turned up tales
and silence filled this card show
and ended all the sales.

From the dealers came a mumble
that roused up to a roar.
Then the auctioneer came over
and looked down on what they saw.
“Raise him! Raise him!” shouted
the newsmen from the back.
But no one would pick up Casey
as he lay by some wax packs.

Like some curse from the devil,
Casey’s origin was on display
and the owner’s face turned to horror
for there would be soon hell to pay;
so he signaled to a friend to sell
a Mantle rookie card,
but the words on Casey’s back would forever
leave him scarred.

“Reprint!” shouted everyone at once,
and the echo answered “Reprint!”
to all this now lonely bunch;
But baseball card collectors are not a discouraged race,
for now the plastic pages were turning
at a faster pace.
They passed up a Wagner and ignored
a perfect Cobb, just to find
again the mighty Casey card

The smiles soon vanished from the children’s lips
as they too joined in this game;
and I who viewed these mental flips
thought everyone there insane.
And now someone gave a TV pitch
in search of this cardboard gold,
asking everyone to even check their attics
as this story is being told.

Oh, somewhere Casey’s card is out there,
or so these dreamers think,
for they will stir up this hobby nation
until they find this missing link;
and somewhere I am laughing,
for I made up that baseball card,
and the refinding of poor Casey
will indeed be very hard.


“Kasey At The Bat (A Communist Fable),” by Robert L. Harrison

Given the long history between the United States and Russia/U.S.S.R., I could not help but chuckle in amusement as I read this piece.  In this poem, Robert L. Harrison parodies the classic poem to give us an idea of what it would have looked like had Casey played in the Soviet Union.

*

The game was going badly for the Moscow Nine
That day,
For Gorky Park had no lights and darkness was on
Its way.
While the sun was setting only Kasey was left
To bat,
A former little leaguer from a Georgia team
At that.

A Cossack got fed up and soon
He disappeared,
The rest clung to their commie hopes for losing was what
They feared,
They thought if only comrade Kasey could get a whack
At that,
We’d bet every ruble now with Kasey at
The bat.

And by the old Russian Gods was that Popovich
On third,
A speck of a human shadow who was faster than
A bird.
So while Kasey missed a bunt, in came
flying “Pop”,
Who was tagged out as poor Kasey took
A flop.

Now the reds were quiet in this adventure
Towards eve,
Until Ivan, a party member shouted
“We gotta believe.”
Then that peasant Kasey took another swing
And missed,
Causing every commissar to scream
“You son of a vitch.”

Then from the Cuban advisors there rose up a
Spanish curse,
That caused the K.G.B. agents to make a
Body search.
Which embarrassed every player, so they covered up
Their ears,
For they and the might Kasey only
Wanted cheers.

There was ease in Kasey’s manner as he showed his
Yellow teeth,
Even his manager smiled while surrounded by the
Secret police.
But the vodka was not selling and soon it would
Be dark,
So that bear of a pitcher unloaded his
Next dart.

Now fifteen-thousand matches struck to light up
That stadium,
As the umpire from Chernobyl lit up with
Some radium.
So now this baseball drama unfolded in the good
Old U.S.S.R,
And “playball” they did on land that once belonged to
The Czar.

Now future visions of his own dacha dangled in
Kasey’s head,
Helloooooooooooo to glasnost thought this
Friendly red.
Then Kasey prayed for his wood to meet
It’s mate,
For life for him forever would be a piece
Of cake.

Now in the dusk, the wind did stir and electrify
The air,
And in the sky, the Cossack caps were flying without
A care.
For contact was made with Kasey’s bat, a sphere flew up into
The night,
And a roar came from the bleacher seats, to the Moscow
Nines delight.

But where the hell was Kasey? On the bases
He disappeared,
Even the Cuban advisors stopped looking and had
A beer.
Then Radio Free Moscow quit transmitting
The game,
So patrons in the Red Square would soon forget
His name.

Oh, somewhere icons are tearing and refusenicks
Picket on,
And soldiers fight for the party, not knowing they
Were conned.
But what about poor Kasey, why did he never score
At all?
The next day by second base they found him, he was hit by his
Own ball.

Now somewhere in Siberia, where the snow is wet
And wild,
Where the timber wolf howls at the moon, and children
Never smile.
Somewhere in that frozen place, before the
Bering Sea,
You’ll find the mighty Kasey, playing on a
Gulag team.