Quote of the day

Just enough breeze to lift the flags along the upper edge of the north stands and let them fall again lazily.  The diamond and outfield, sharply cut, were a bright velvet carpet to Joe’s eyes.  As the players ran back and forth on it he could feel with envy its turfy spring and wished for — something, nearer definition now than ever before in his life.

~William Carlos Williams, from White Mule

William Carlos Williams 1921 public domain

Williams in 1921 (public domain)


“The Crowd At the Ball Game,” by William Carlos Williams

Published 1923 in The Dial, this poem by William Carlos Williams depicts the growing popularity and diversity of baseball in the early twentieth century.  During the 1920s, baseball became one of the biggest forms of entertainment in urban America.  American workers were known to gather around newspapers to read box scores, and those that could manage it flocked to the new ballparks that were being built.  The crowds at games came to represent the melting pot that America was becoming, as working-class immigrants took as much an interest in the game as the middle- to upper-classes did in baseball’s early years.

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The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—

all the exciting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—

all to no end save beauty
the eternal—

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this
to be warned against

saluted and defied—
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
its words cut—

The flashy female with her
mother, gets it—

The Jew gets it straight— it
is deadly, terrifying—

It is the Inquisition, the
Revolution

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them
idly—

This is
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought