October 2014: Faith, by Tim Peeler
September 2014: Fantasy Baseball: Milwaukee, by David A. Petreman
August 2014: Spring Meditation, by Kevin Miller
July 2014: Jackie Robinson Apartments, Brooklyn, N. Y. by Eleanor Scott
June 2014:Asterisk, by Yates Young
May 2014: Askance, by George Yatchisin
April 2014: Postseason, by Liz Drayer
March 2014: Untitled, by Bill Deegan
February 2014: Three Home Runs, by Greg Moglia
January 2014: At Yankee Stadium, by Rick K. Smith
December 2013: Untitled, by Donald Gaiter
November 2013: Baseball in Manzanar, by Bruce W. Niedt
October 2013: Driving by a Snow-Covered Baseball Park in December, by David Allan Evans
September 2103: The Ghost Chaser (for Roger Maris), by R. Bremner
August 2013: The Gloucester Fisherman's First Game, by Robert L. Harrison
July 2013: To Believe, by Marna Owen
June 2013: Empty Ballparks, by Tobey Shiverick
May 2013: To James Creighton, by Robert L. Harrison
December 2009: A Boy of Doubtful Grace by Bruce D. Herman
Baseball Poem of the Month, October 2014
by Tim Peeler
Leaving Oklahoma, Mantle
Corn fed and country handsome,
Listened to his daddy and
After he died young, carried
On conversations with him
In the Yankee center field.
Mickey looked up at what stars
He could see, and there was Mutt
Telling him to move in some,
To always hit the cutoff,
But when the game was over,
Mick was all alone with his
Mates, the women, the party,
Walking Manhattan sidewalks,
The latest girlfriend on
His arm, as he drunkenly scanned
The empty meaningless sky.
Bio of poet: Well known to Spitball readers, Tim Peeler is one of America's best and most prolific baseball poets.
Baseball Poem of the Month, September 2014
Fantasy Baseball: Milwaukee
by David A. Petreman
1st Inning: Nineteen fifty-three:
Every Miller beer is free
During the first game.
2nd Inning: Nineteen fifty-four:
Joe Adcock hits five home runs
In a single game.
3rd Inning: Nineteen fifty-five:
Dodgers forfeit fifteen wins
4th Inning: Nineteen fifty-six:
Eddie Mathews makes the play,
Braves win the pennant.
5th Inning: In fifty-seven:
Hurricane Bob Hazle wins
6th Inning: Nineteen fifty-eight:
Braves beat the Yankees again,
This time four to one.
7th Inning: Nineteen fifty-nine:
Braves beat Dodgers in play-offs,
Win pennant again.
8th Inning: In nineteen sixty:
I meet Spahn, Aaron, Mathews
Inside the clubhouse.
9th Inning: Nineteen sixty-one:
Henry Louis Aaron hits
Sixty-two home runs.
10th Inning: Nineteen sixty-two:
They have re-planted pine trees
Out in center field.
11th Inning: Nineteen sixty-three:
Spahn wins the Cy Young, Aaron
Wins the Triple Crown.
12th Inning: Nineteen sixty-four:
Rico Carty wins Rookie
Of the Year Award.
13th Inning: Nineteen sixty-five:
Braves tell Milwaukee, we'll stay
And it's not a lie.
Bio of poet: David A. Petreman (Bellbrook, OH) grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and saw the Braves play many times in Milwaukee County Stadium. He pitched for Illinois Wesleyan University.
Baseball Poem of the Month, August 2014
by Kevin Miller
short toss with Wiffle balls-
the elder brother shags,
the younger swings
the bulbous blue bat,
spins half circle
and falls on wet grass.
The grandfather on one knee
recalls his start, all three
hit southpaw, the turn
to short toss is method,
a step back for contact,
as simple as breath,
and he recalls Gary Schwab
placing a bat behind his foot
to force his step to the pitch,
forget Gordy Coleman,
he holds the ball still
has the boy swing
to the point of impact,
stop, feel the extension,
extend - it means
your arms look like this V,
he rises, holds the boy's hips
to show open, belly button
to the pitcher, he remembers
Connie Hamilton telling
a kid Squeeze your cheeks,
imagine holding a fiver,
first soft toss a line shot
sticks a blue moon
in the laurel hedge.
Bio of poet: Kevin Miller (Tacoma, WA) is a seasoned baseball poet.
Baseball Poem of the Month, July 2014
Jackie Robinson Apartments, Brooklyn, N.Y.
by Eleanor Scott
"Dont' run inside,"
says the lady
who lives in the apartment
built over the path
head down, heart up,
now only a home,
where obedient children
(whose feet feel the echoes)
Bio of poet: Eleanor Scott (Belvidere, NJ) is a retired English teacher and baseball fan of more than 70 years.
Baseball Poem of the Month, June 2014
by Yates Young
How did he hit 73*
Here's a photo of the guy
Taken a few years ago.
How does a grown man
Grow arms that large
And a neck that wide
He wanted to outdo the white guy
(Apparently juicing too)
Who hit 70* a few years before.
Did he cheat?
Where's the evidence?
Who built him up?
Who did he let down?
The press screamed Foul
Bud fiddled through it all
The umpire cried Play Ball!
Bio of poet: Yates Young (Palm Coast, FL) has been writing poetry for more than 40 years. he also translates Classical, Tang, and Sung poetry.
This is the first line of this poem.
Now we see how unsatisfying
the truth can be.
Of course we don’t all agree
about even the obvious,
just ask god if you believe in him,
just love the beauty of a 4-6-3
double play, or the woman
who loves me for loving it.
Perhaps that’s not why, I know,
But she loves me anyway,
which makes her more gorgeous
than the shortstop on his perilous pivot,
than the first baseman’s artful scoop –
so much saved with easy grace.
This is all an excuse, sure, to avoid
trying to describe her matchless face
as I race to the last line of this poem.
Bio of Poet: George Yatchisin (Santa Barbara, CA) is a Mets fan and the Communications Coordinator of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara.
By Liz Drayer
I'm not savvy about baseball.
RBI OPB ERA
might be letters
floating in soup.
The rookie's first playoff at bat
he strides to the plate
and assumes the position.
Will he trudge back
to the dugout deflated
that's the question on my mind.
All I see sometimes
is the human movie to go with
the pitch count and strikeouts
The world soundtrack
Beltran Suzuki Verlander
can’t be heard in the press box.
Without the script I can’t make meaning
of sac flies, blown saves, double plays.
Take slugging percentage –
don’t I see the shine of it
he wants to know
I admit that I can’t.
It’s the hum of blood
under the jerseys
that stops me
where he sees equations.
Bio of Poet: Liz
Drayer (Clearwater, FL) is an attorney and free lance writer.
By Bill Deegan
eating sunflower seeds
the manager studies
the spray charts
Bio of Poet: Bill Deegan (Mahwah, NJ) is a haiku poet and CPA.
Three Home Runs
By Greg Moglia
Out my father’s window the sun enjoys itself at midday
Dad sits up in his nursing bed, takes his pill and gives his nurse a thank you
Greets me with a smile and I say Happy Birthday Dad … Happy 96th
Dad in a child voice says Daddy and Mommy how are they?
Did I hear right I ask Dad, what did you say?
Daddy and Mommy how are they?
Dad, your mother and father died about 50 years ago
I’m not sure on the date
Dad tears up And the funerals, the burials, I missed it all
Now, he’s sobbing Both gone and I missed it all
Stunned, I need help and it comes – father is falling
But pieces still here – he’s still here …
Dad listen it’s here in the paper … the Babe
The Babe … hit three homers … three homers today
Dad Looks hard at me and then softens
And through sniffles Three home runs?
Yes, Dad I take a tissue
Wipe his eyes as he asks
And the Yankees
did they win?
Bio of poet: Greg Moglia (Huntington, NY) is an Adjunct
Professor of Philosophy of Education at N.Y.U. and a widely-published poet.
At Yankee Stadium
By Rick K. Smith
Yeah, I saw DiMaggio play in center.
Dad told me his spikes were extra long
so he wouldn’t tip over if he dozed off
when guys like Reynolds or Raschi
were on the mound.
And I saw Mantle, a 19 year old kid,
beat out a bunt as a pinch hitter
in his rookie year.
Woodling, Bauer, Mize, Coleman,
Rizzuto and Dr. Bobby Brown.
They couldn’t lose.
But my guys were Frank Leja,
the bonus baby who only got 4 at bats
for his $100,000. And Tommy Carroll,
another one of those whom no one remembers.
Charlie Silvera, back up for Yogi Berra;
he’d get maybe 80 at bats all year,
hit .320 and still couldn’t crack
What about Jim Brideweser,
utility infielder who tripled one afternoon
and was optioned to the minors
the next day.
Cliff Mapes hit an inside-the-park homer,
the only one I’ve ever seen in person.
He was in his twilight then.
When your legs start to go,
I guess you hope for a double.
You actually want the outfielder
to cut off your liner before it splits the gap
and rolls to the wall.
Running out a triple will wear you down.
I can only wonder what Mapes was thinking
Stumbling into the visitors’ dugout,
gasping for air after scoring the only run
for his lowly St. Louis Browns
on another bright and beautiful day
at Yankee Stadium
where once again the Bronx Bombers
would not need to swing
in the bottom of the ninth.
Bio of poet: Rick K. Smith (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) is a clinical psychologist and blues harp musician. His third book of poems, Whispering in a Mad Dog’s Ear, was recently published.
By Donald Gaither
far from the ballpark
above the crowd noise
Bio of poet: Donald Gaither (Vancouver, WA) is a former teacher, a Viet Nam veteran, and an expert on haiku.
Baseball in Manzanar
By Bruce W. Niedt
When I was twelve I played sandlot ball
in my little town in California.
After the game, I would go to the docks
and help my father with the catch
on his fishing boat. A year later we were
in the desert, in a government compound
bordered by towers and electrified fences.
My father had everything taken from him,
but he said they could not take our pride.
We still played baseball, with a vengeance -
teams and leagues and uniforms, just as
we would have done back home. One day
I almost hit a homer over the barbed wire fence.
A guard in a tower gave me a thumbs-up.
My father said, They think we're trying too hard
to be Americans. They don't know I played baseball
as a boy back in Kyoto. It's a Japanese game too.
I said, Papa, we are Americans.
My father died too early, never the same
since he lost his business. I grew up,
went to college, married, had three kids,
and now, six grandkids, the oldest of whom
is a college professor. When I think back,
sometimes I still get angry with my country,
but it's still my country. I still watch baseball,
and I have my favorite players, like Ichiro,
who marches inevitably to the Hall of Fame.
Bio of poet: Bruce W. Niedt (Cherry Hill, NJ) has a chapbook of recent-composed baseball poems ready for publication, awaiting discovery by a publisher.
Driving by a Snow-Covered Baseball Park in December
By David Allan Evans
Three crows were standing on
spindly legs between second
and short, all three looking
toward home plate, as if waiting
for a hot grounder to scramble
their wings, or a frozen-rope single
to sizzle right over their heads,
making them duck.
When I slowed down for
a closer look, they lifted lazily
and flied out deep to center,
but heading, I guessed, toward
the strewn concessions
in the Western Mall parking lot.
Bio of poet: David Allan Evans (Sioux Falls, SD) has published eight collections of poetry and has been the poet laureate of South Dakota since 2003.
The Ghost Chaser
(for Roger Maris)
By R. Bremner
He chased a ghost
to the crack of our whip.
Our simple plan:
the ghost would vaporize
through his fingers
before delighted eyes
and excited sighs.
The stupid man!
He couldn't understand
He caught the ghost
we loved the most.
the stings of our whip.
Away he ran.
Bio of poet: A prolific poet, R. Bremner (Glen Ridge, NJ) has worked as a cab driver, truck unloader, computer programmer, and bank vice-president.
The Gloucester Fisherman's First Game
By Robert L. Harrison
The upper deck was cod
as he sat with his chum,
being hard of herring
he was floundering about
watching shrimp-like players
playing bass ball.
He smelt hot dogs
while netting a beer,
as the pitcher threw down the pike
balls with fresh bait
watched by crabby umpire eyes.
He stayed tuna end
for the game was a fluke
a turning tide that would
even make a mermaid cry.
Bio of poet: A retired special education teacher, Air Force photographer, docent, and parking lot attendant, Robert L. Harrison (East Meadow, NY) is a well-known baseball bard.
Baseball Poem of the Month: July 2013
By Marna Owen
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.
Bio of poet: Marna Owen (Berkeley, CA) is a Tigers fan and a project manager.
Baseball Poem of the Month: June 2013
By Tobey Shiverick
Empty ballparks speak.
It's true, you know.
They are not just empty spaces
Surrounded by tiers of empty seats.
They speak with silent eloquence
Of green grass and ghosts
Of ball games past
And promises of ball games to come.
You have to relax and listen.
Consider it therapy
Bio of poet: Tobey Shiverick (Vero Beach, FL) has visited all 30 major league ballparks and is writing a book about it, to be published this summer by Summer Game Books.
Go to Top: Baseball Poems
Baseball Poem of the Month: May 2013
To James Creighton
By Robert L. Harrison
You were a brother of the ball from long ago.
A man who ran the bases before us
Who pitched a snap wristed curve ball
That went where no sphere before has ever been.
And on your last at bat
You saw the arc of the ball melt into the sky
And it pained you to see the end of your game.
You were young and the game was young
The world of nine men playing together just beginning,
And there you were, a star raising from the dust
That the scribes would write about
That the fanatics would come out and see
A hero of green fields and summer's song,
Where the innings could stretch forever.
Yes, we remember you, the pioneer,
the man who dreamed of future games
Where under the sun players would run
And bat, and catch, and seek new ways
To stretch their imagination on the field.
For this we salute you and cross our bats
And stand in silence in honor of you.
Bio of poet: Robert L. Harrison (East Meadow, NY) is the author of several baseball chapbooks and a longtime contributor to Spitball Magazine.
Go to Top: Baseball Poems
Baseball Poem of the Month: April 2013
By Dwayne Brenna
from the un-grassy knoll
you see in living colour after that
pure white smoke
and bee bee at the knees
arrives like a punch in the face
or a pail of cold water
and hops and sometimes drops
and sometimes disappears
(ask any ump)
and thwack goes the mitt
a foley artist couldn't make that sound
statement of unbending bluntness
black and white
and no détente
you on that side
me on this
and hit it if you can
Bio of poet: Dwayne Brenna (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) teaches in the drama department of the University of Saskatchewan and was published in the Spring 2012 issue of Spitball.
Go to Top: Baseball Poems
Baseball Poem of the Month: March 2013
Where I'm From
By Michael Kumar
I am from center field,
From where the rich green grass and the warm brown dirt meet.
I am from the place where champions are made, and
legends are born.
I am from the drive to succeed and the fear of failure.
I am from where players made footsteps too deep to fill,
From the same turf legends and DiMaggio and Mantle, and where The Say Hey Kid
made his famous catch.
I am from the roar of the fans and the chatter of my teammates.
I'm from the place where I feel comfortable, and I am determined to stay here.
I'm from the place where left meets right and I am ready.
I am home.
Bio of poet: Michael Kumar (Little Silver, NJ) is a
senior baseball player at Red Bank Regional High School and plays for a
traveling team called the NJ Marlins.
Baseball Poem of the Month: February 2013
By Denise Newbolt
Clear August sunlight spotlighted the dancer
he twirled in the style of Tiant
technical in spin, placed practiced choreography.
A white ball, laced red with a season's skill and hope,
hurled to the stanched batter,
who would nick it to the dirt
In his 7th inning finale
a foul, a strike released in a summer's era,
the spiraling pitcher spun to a season's final ovation,
in late afternoon shadows.
Bio of poet: Denise Newbolt (Florence, KY), now
retired, was the Kentucky School Media Specialist of the Year in 2006. She has
also worked for the Florence Freedom professional baseball club.
Go to Top: Baseball Poems
Baseball Poem of the Month: January 2013
Little League Strikeouts Ain't Pretty
By Robert L. Harrison
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
Bio of poet: Robert L. Harrison (East
Meadow, NY) is a widely published baseball versifier with several baseball
chapbooks to his credit.
Baseball Poem of the Month: September 2012
Life throws you a curve,
Breaking so sharply,
That just before it crosses the plate,
You flinch, bend back.
You still have two strikes to go.
Next a change up or a slider.
Perhaps followed by high heat.
A 100 mph fastball.
Even if you know what pitch is coming,
You still can’t hit it out of the park.
Soon you are not allowed
Any more pitches. 3 strikes.
Return to the bench.
No sense hanging around.
You’re out. That’s it.
Bio of Poet: Louis Phillips (New York, NY) is a widely published poet, playwright, and short story writer and the author of numerous books, including The Woman Who Wrote King Lear and Other Stories. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
by Larry Eickstaedt
Ted Williams was my idol.
Ruthie and I were always the Boston Red Sox
for our farmyard baseball games
but I paid grudging respect
to Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees –
my brother's team.
Stories our dad told about the greats
like Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson,
provided an historical feel for the game.
More important than school lessons –
lifetime batting averages, most runs,
most hits, most stolen bases –
were committed to memory.
At the top of the list, records
held by the most famous of Yankees,
the Babe –
most home runs in a season,
most in a lifetime –
In the afternoon of August 16, 1948,
a wave of silence,
like a sharp line drive,
swept the family when Mom
came out to the yard and announced
to Dad, my brother, sister, and me,
Babe Ruth died today!
That's all she said.
As though in a trance,
stunned by the news,
she slowly went back inside.
Time was suspended
like one of his towering home runs
and tears were near as I struggled
with unsettling feelings
like striking out with the bases loaded
in the bottom of the ninth.
Bio of Poet: Born on a farm in Storm Lake, Iowa, Larry Eickstaedt (Olympia, WA) received a Ph.D in marine biology from Stanford University and was a founding member of The Evergreen State College in Olympia. A former Boston Red Sox fan, he now roots for the Seattle Mariners.
For Andy Who Signed with the San Francisco Giants in 1972
Written after Finding His First Bubble Gum Contract in the Smokehouse
by Larry Rogers
He wanted his ashes spread
over a pasture in Logan County
that decades earlier had been
a ball field on which the Dean brothers,
Dizzy and Daffy, had played
when they were boys.
When he was a boy
he would go there
and commune with
their carefree spirits
when he wanted to
get away from the worries
of this world.
one bright, April morning
I did not hear the pop
of a fastball shooting
into the heart of the catcher's mitt,
or early 20th century
only my own unsteady voice
giving the barefooted Diz
a glowing scouting report
on another local boy.
Bio of Poet: Larry Smith (Fort Smith, AR) served in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cav in 1967-68. His poems have appeared in the Wormwood Review, the New York Quarterly, and the Denver Post.
Shakespearean Baseball Sonnet #51
by Michael Ceraolo
Thus can my love excuse the weak offense
Of my hometown team, when the pitching’s good.
No matter the batters can’t reach the fence,
And don’t draw as many walks as they should,
Nor do they blaze the base paths with much speed:
Said offense is a catalog of need.
With good pitching you can stay in the game
And let your weak offense try to keep pace;
Close, low-scoring games have a better name,
Though you’re not any higher in the race
Than a team built the opposite of you;
Both have a similar also-ran view.
And by all except the purist’s measure,
Losing is not an aesthetic pleasure.
Bio of Poet: Michael Ceraolo (Willoughby Hills, OH) is a firefighter/paramedic and the author of a book of poetry called Euclid Creek.
A Mile in My Shoes: Joe Jackson
by Don Waldo
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.
Bio of Poet: Don Waldo (Charlotte, NC) is a NY Yankees fan who has written extensively about Shoeless Joe Jackson.
by Dwayne Brenna
Used to throw the screwball
but pronated hands and elbows
don’t make healthy arms
Fernando Valenzuela found this out
Took a while
to stretch my fingers out but I
enjambed a ball
and held it there for weeks
watching Jen on TSN
Then winter came
I threw it in the gym
for six months straight
So what’s it do?
like memories of Mathewson
like a wounded skunk
and leaves an odor at your door
When it’s working
no one hits that thang
Bio of Poet: Dwayne Brenna (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) is the author of a collection of baseball poems called Time Out of Mind.
Why I No Longer Go
by John MacLean
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.
Bio of Poet: John MacLean (Croton, NY) is a big NY Yankees fan and the author of If You Teach It They Will Read: Literature’s Life Lessons for Today’s Students.
Baseball Poem of the Month: April 2011
The Path to the Dugout
by Rob Vogt
Right-handers are power pitchers.
They come from Texas, raised on beef
and christened with names like Nolan and Roger.
Left-handers are crafty southpaws.
No one knows exactly where they come from,
but they do strange things in the clubhouse,
like reading books in front of their lockers.
Right-handers pitch until their arms fall off,
or until they can no longer make it out of the seventh inning
without assistance from a sub-species known as a relief pitcher.
Left-handers pitch into their early forties,
or until they are offered jobs in the broadcast booth.
Right-handers throw 95-mph fastballs
at disrespectful, plate-hugging batters,
the baseballs connecting with a painful thud,
their seams leaving tiny, red bite marks
on hitters’ barely-covered flesh.
Left-handers nibble around the plate,
Lulling batters to sleep,
luring umpires into expanded strike zones.
Right-handers storm off the mound
at the end of an inning, pumping their fists –
Left-handers curlicue called strike threes
around the outside corner and walk off the field quietly,
their eyes focused on the path to the dugout
and nothing more.
Bio of Poet: Rob Vogt (Los Angeles, CA) teaches writing at the University of Southern California and has had a poem nominated for a Pushcart prize.
by Joyce Kessel
I grew up a National League fan
of the Pirates, Cards, Reds & Giants,
not even knowing many decades before
my Buffalo Bisons played in the Senior League
well before becoming a minor league stalwart.
So I'd pray for sunny skies over Forbes Field
rather than Cleveland's "Mistake by the Lake."
My rare defection to the American League
came when the Orioles gained Frank Robinson
in that lopsided trade and after,
who couldn't have appreciated Cal Ripken?
My dad & I would troll the minor leagues
where for some reason affiliations
didn't seem to matter as much,
at least not to me,
who took in the green expanses
beyond dirt as the glowing diamonds
they were meant to be,
even in parks that were bare shadows
to Little League fields today.
In bandbox fields
and open air bleachers
we'd watch players with numbers,
but no names on their uniforms,
trading cards in their future or past
or not at all, their talents raw and wild.
I learned a geography of Rustbelt cities:
Toledo Mudhens, Columbus Clippers,
Rochester Redwings, Syracuse Chiefs,
Geneva Cubs, Oneonta Yankees,
Niagara Falls Rainbows,
a day’s ride away,
hoping they’d play two,
and mastering the geometry
& hieroglyphs of scorecards.
Bio of Poet: Joyce Kessel (Hamburg, NY) is a widely-published poet and a teacher at Villa Maria College in Buffalo. Sample recordings of her work can be heard at www.thinktwiceradio.com
Baseball Poem of the Month: February 2011
McNeil Island Penitentiary Closes
by Kevin Miller
The island boat sails
empty one way. For
years I told the kids
of our away games
against fed inmates,
the Native pitcher
with hand-carved knives
his forearms, his stare
walleyed as search lights
when a kid sixteen
brushed him back. He eyed
me with unwieldy
daggers, safe behind
I squatted, signaled
for a curve. Bleacher
bums hooted, howled,
and bet cigarettes
on each pitch. One guy
yelled, He killed seven
guys, watch your back
at the plate. Hitters
joked about playing
the next game at our place.
We split the double
header, and ate lunch
At the big house.
Bio of Poet: Kevin Miller (Tacoma, Washington) is the author of Home & Away: The Old Town Poems, his third collection of poems. It was published in 2008 by Pleasure Boat Studio.
by Ed McCafferty
There are youngsters playing pick-up baseball
on a hardscrabble field
in the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre, PA.
We are not a real team,
we have no uniforms,
and our parents don’t watch us play.
To settle first pick
in choosing sides we spit
on a smooth flat stone
and toss it in the air-
one side wet
one side dry.
Today the entire Heights
is the stone come down
on its wet side.
The Asphalt on Empire Street
the infield at Casey Park
the woods beyond
deep blue and
heavy with rain.
The sand quarry
is a sienna pit,
and the coal-company houses
edging the woods
are slaked a corrugated gray.
A cool breeze blows
in from the highway,
and blows into my memory.
Twenty years later I return.
The woods, the sand pit, the company houses
are paved over into an industrial park.
But Casey Field thrives,
now edged with an outfield fence,
and now a Little League field
where real teams play.
Bio of Poet: Ed McCafferty (Alexandria, VA) has made several previous appearances in Spitball.
Gum Based Good Times
by David S. Pointer
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.
Bio of Poet: David S. Pointer (Murfreesboro, TN) is the author of the poetry chapbook Warhammer Piano Bar published by Thunderclap Press.
by M. T. Corrigan
Not to say too much, nor paint those shadows
deeper than they were, his serves just clearing
the drop of the woods, and that line of maples
along Route Two, a deeper green. Greater matters
attach themselves to the sense of things
we learned, like the shockless strokes of triples
scalded down the lines, singeing the Nadeaus'
birch trees: overspin, top hand. What meaning
could one assign to batting practice; who grapples
light enough to comprehend that meadow's
darknesses? He pitched from deepeer shade, peering
in to catch the sign to get me out. No scruples
for the dustbacks that flung me down to dirt:
"Get up, son. Hang in. Baseball doesn't hurt."
Bio of Poet: M. T. Corrigan (Lewiston, ME) appeared in the Summer 1994 issue of Spitball.
Roberto Clemente (Topps 1972)
by Mark Hinton
The first thing you notice is the ball
stopped in mid-air. Playfully tossed just
before the picture was taken. Right
hand already waiting for the ball
to come down. His tongue stuck out in mock
concentration. The red pickup truck
just beyond his right shoulder, the half-
empty stands, the fans standing along
the fence, even his shiny batting helmet
tell the story: another batting
practice before another game. Perhaps,
the World Series. The long black sleeves
would be right. The gesture too. A simple
act of easy grace declaring much:
certain knowledge of his own greatness.
Perhaps I read too much into this card.
But how can I not. The ball hanging
there when his plane could not.
Bio of Poet: This poem by Mark Hinton (Bloomington, MN) is from a series of poems by the poet about the players on baseball cards.
A Broken Window
by Larry Granger
Up the hill next to the
field is a house with an
inviting window just out
of range of our size batters
even on our best days.
Who will be first?
That’s why we had a fungo
contest with a crash being
the ultimate prize.
Finally we moved from home
plate to third base.
And it happened by one
I won’t say who.
Usually only the American
Legion team batters could
come anywhere close.
Parental pride replaced
the window and saved ball.
Full story not disclosed
until much later family
Bio of Poet: Larry Granger (Bloomington, MN) is a historian and writer who has coached youth baseball for many years in the Bloomington and St. Paul, MN areas.
by Robert Manaster
I used to lounge around the inn's lobby
By the Bering Room. While standing near a wobbly
Table— my pockets stuffed with change— I'd agree
To buy the best from those sorry boys, who trusted
Me after trading for their cards. Sorry,
It didn't matter much to them since they lusted
For quarters anyway— they didn't know
The deals those days. How could I let them go?
A quarter for Fisk— or any great name—
They took without a struggle in their eyes.
They never knew, they never worked the game,
And I wasn't about to hint or compromise.
They themselves played it big: They'd plead and trade
For what they saw were players a good grade
Above the rest—Rose, Ripkin, Jackson, Hough—
Then laugh behind some backs when done. My take
Was to fish out nibblers not smart enough
To know a real worm from the rubbery fake.
Bio of Poet: Robert Manaster has published poems in various journals including Many Mountains Moving, Wisconsin Review, and Sport Literate. He lives in Champaign, IL.
Stetter to Sheffield to Matcovich
by Howard Rosenberg
His five-hundreth victim -
A name for trivia lovers;
The pitch, number nine,
A full-count slider,
Tossed nine days after
His Mets debut.
His swat -his first hit as a Met-
A gloved surprise for a bleacher buyer;
The media's momentum magnifying
The threesome's moment;
The catch worth bats, balls, jerseys,
The gifts of a Major League man
Whose dreams were now just memories,
Whose blast could not revive the past -
Only stir the present.
Bio of Poet: Howard Rosenberg writes a blog about the New York Mets called "metbaseball.blogspot.com" and lives in Sewell, NJ.
by Ed Werstein
Five minutes after tuning in late
you knew all the important stuff:
score, inning, situation, pitchers,
key plays, game summary,
(the Tiges [like tikes with a hard g]
scored first on Kaline’s
sacrifice fly in the third,
but the Bosox took the lead in
their half of the inning
with a two run blast by Malzone
after a one out walk to Runnels.)
If the Tigers were on the road,
you got some additional info.
Maybe a description of Comiskey Park,
right down to those beautiful arches,
or the dimensions of Fenway’s
But the stats were just the stitching
in the patchwork of beautiful pictures
he pieced together.
Moms from Midland, lads from Lansing,
and those gentlemen from Ypsilanti
will still manage to snag foul balls.
Watching called third strikes sail by,
hitters will still just stand there
like the house by the side of the road.
Double plays will still be two for the price of one,
homers will still be loooong gone,
and fans will still be holding onto their beers
during those tense ninth innings.
But, like a ground-rule double
he hopped the fence and left the park.
Ernie Harwell is gone,
and no one will ever tell us that way again.
Bio of Poet: Ed Werstein of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan who grew up south of the Motor City. His work has appeared in Verse Wisconsin and Vampyr Verses.
By Janet Kamnikar
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.
Bio of Poet: Janet Kamnikar lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and recently published a baseball poem about her father in plains song review (Univ. of Nebraska). She and her husband take in Cubs games every spring in Mesa, AZ.
Fastball from My Dad
By Geoff M. Pope
Back in the '50s, my father
played minor league baseball
with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bruce B. Pope was a lefty, and he hurt me,
hurt my hand bad when I was almost 11 -
after I blurted out something like, “Dad,
throw me one of your real fastballs, will ya?”
I watched his hesitation and the familiar but slightly
different windup this time; it was more pronounced,
just more dramatic, I thought. Then the pitch –
and my barely seeing it fly into my mitt.
I can still hear the hit, the violent Pop!
I tried hard not to cry when I caught it then dropped it.
I started bawling across the front yard, the palm
of my left hand stinging then throbbing,
the glove left on the ground…
me thinking something broken
and blurry like I will nev-er
question the pow-er
of my fath-er
Bio of Poet: Geoff M. Pope lives in the Seattle area, 16 miles from Safeco Field. His book of poems is titled The Word in Question.
Baseball Poem of the Month: March 2010
Baseball (day/night doubleheader)
by Bruce Harris
Complete games were routine for some,
watched by hats and ties through fragrant cigar smoke.
Great Scott - home run derby - M&Ms - Maypo (hold the juice).
Baseball is Topps and a nickel is king.
September's done. Eight teams dream of afternoon October fun.
Save this. DH that. Pitch count. Everyone looks like a catcher now.
Corporate heads sit and talk while starting pitchers transact business with the bullpen.
Only birds get flipped.
Jokers and wild cards blow on hands. Stars under stars
while witches and ghosts and goblins play.
Bio of Poet: Bruce Harris played high school baseball before the appearance of aluminum bats, the DH, and lights at Wrigley Field. He lives in Scotch Plains, NJ..
Baseball Poem of the Month: February 2010
by John Lambremont, Sr.
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.
Bio of Poet: A graduate of Louisiana State University with a B.A. in English-Creative Writing, John Lambremont, Sr. is a widely-published, Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. The author of Whiskey, Whimsy, & Rhymes, he lives in Baton Rouge, LA.
Baseball Poem of the Month: January 2010
Railroads and Baseball
by Dudley Laufman
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.
Bio of Poet: Dudley Laufman is the author of four volumes of poetry and the recipient of the GOVERNOR's AWARD IN THE ARTS Lifetime Achievement Folk Heritage Award for 2001. He lives in Canterbury, NH.
Baseball Poem of the Month: December 2009
A Boy of Doubtful Grace
|by Bruce D. Herman
You go cheap, you get cheap.
Take my first baseball glove - please!
Oh, it's long gone, lumping its way to the
center of the earth.
It's about the time of the "Say Hey!" guy's
At eight, my only catch was measles.
The same year I peeled my first orange.
In softball pickup games, chosen last, I roamed
right field with a dog. The dog retrieved
the balls I missed.
When I asked for a baseball glove my dad went cheap.
I think he paid for it in pesoes.
Mom called my gift Quasimodo. It was that misshapened.
All fat with batten, Quasimodo was unbendable,
with a dimple for a pocket, with ill-strung hapless
Girls thought I was cute. Feeling sorry for me,
they taught me how to throw.
Girls thought I was cute, and that's how I got
through the baseball season.
Bio of Poet: Bruce D. Herman is a retiree living in Brooklyn Center, MN. His poems have appeared in numerous periodicals, including "ArtWord Quarterly," "Mobius," and "Vintage Northwest."