As a kid, chewing bubble gum always seemed to me as much a part of baseball as wearing a baseball cap. Published in 2010 in Spitball magazine, this piece seems to agree with me.
The antique gumball
machine tech patted
his little globe dispenser
saying it was “the gum”
that really got each
baseball game started
and helped a fastball
burn hot as a fireplace
front or brought out a
cartridge box boom
at the crack of the bat
or helped the coach
keep up maintenance
on all our game gear
stored in that Nicaraguan
coffee gunny sack
season after season,
so in baseball’s brief
little league time line
it’s the chewing gum
that may be going down
into history with the
chomping rest of us.
I have never seen nor heard anything like the story about Ted Williams in this poem, but I do like the idea behind it. As the author comments, it makes for a great story. This piece by Dudley Laufman appeared in Sptiball Magazine in January 2010.
That time there in Warner, New Hampshire,
game between Bradford and Warner,
someone clouted a drive across the railroad tracks
just in front of the afternoon run
of the Concord to Claremont commuter.
Ump made it a ground rule double.
I think I told you this one,
Arlington – Waltham.
Spy Ponder hits one over the tracks
in front of the 6:15 to Lexington,
Watch City outfielder scoots through the underpass,
comes back waving the ball,
wants a ground rule double,
ump says home run.
Yeah, I told you that one.
But get this.
I don’t know if this is true or not,
but it makes a good story.
The Red Sox are enroute Boston-Providence
for an exhibition game in Pawtucket.
Train passes through Sharon or
some little town like that.
Train whistles along the edge of the ball field,
sandlot game, mix of grubby uniforms,
and someone lines one towards the train.
Ted Williams is standing out on the back platform,
reaches out, snags the ball, and keeps it.
Train rumbles on to Pawtucket,
Williams clutching their only ball.
Next day (the Sox stay over),
train headed back to Beantown.
The boys are out on the field
(they found another ball).
The Kid is out on the platform again,
and he throws the ball back,
autographed by all the Bosox.
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.
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.
Here’s a piece by John Lambremont, Sr. published by Spitball Magazine in February 2010. I enjoy pieces like this one where baseball metaphors aren’t necessarily overt, but they’re definitely there.
Age-old Southern faces,
tight-lipped and grim,
in their batting helmets,
their chins tucked in,
raise their steel barrels
and dig in again.
Remnants of their ancestry,
descendants of their kin,
that stared down steel barrels
and charged again,
knowing that their chances
to survive were slim.
The batteries of the enemy
are usually going to win.
This poem from Spitball Magazine is called “Star Fielder,” and I love the double meaning that this poem brings to that phrase. In baseball, a star fielder is considered that defensive player who makes the spectacular plays. In Kamnikar’s piece, it refers to the moon fielding the stars.
A slender crescent moon
lay on its back last night
low in the evening-blue sky,
while tacked high above it,
a single star shone forth,
the sky’s own diamond solitaire.
If that star should fall, I thought,
the moon, like a flashy center fielder,
would make a basket catch
and capture every drop of light.
We have been discussing the book Eight Men Out in class (summary/review to come soon!), so this piece seemed appropriate this morning. Published in Spitball Magazine, this poem does seem to capture the spirit of Jackson’s view on the 1919 fix.
I had a uniform that was dirty but a conscience that was clean.
I never laid eyes on a one of them but knew them all by name.
I never spoke to them directly but heard what they were asking.
I told them to go to hell, but they said I was already there.
I asked to sit this one out but was told I would never stand.
I never asked for nothing, but they gave it to me anyways.
I tried to tell them what was going down, but they knew what was up.
I always played to win but somehow managed to lose.
I never learned to read or write, but my signed confession still damns me.
I was owed a living wage, but he’s paying me beyond the grave.
History has called me out, but His is the only call that matters.
Here’s a great piece out of Spitball magazine about a disenfranchised, disillusioned fan. I love going to ballgames, but sometimes, I too get annoyed or overwhelmed by all the extra entertainment provided. Rather than relying solely on the game to keep our attention, clubs bombard fans with music, mascots, kiss cams, and other such distractions in order to ensure that everyone is having fun. Oftentimes, I wish the game would stop being about profits and would go back to just being about baseball.
To tear the old place down was the last straw,
But they had long since changed the game for me.
I didn’t spend enough to pay my share
Of salary and profit for the club,
And, so, somehow, membership was revoked.
I had for years parked on the South Bronx streets,
And bought a hero sandwich up the block,
And sat with homemade scorecard through all nine,
Without the need to buy a bobble head.
But worst of all, I still contributed
To silence that once hung across the park,
A hammock on those lazy summer days,
When you’re content to let the whole world slip.
Then came fake bugles, mechanical cheers,
Loud music danced to by Cotton-eyed Joe.
You couldn’t hear the elevated train
For all the noise the cartoon subway made.
Forget the bat’s crack or the leather’s pop.
They couldn’t trust that I would stay awake,
And so they filled the once expectant space
Between the innings with crowd pleasing din
The way they do it in the minor leagues.