Archives for posts with tag: Baseball

What Runs Through
by Patrick Connors

We went to the Blue Jays game one Saturday
to see that damn Yankee Derek Jeter one last time.

Actually, it was also the first time
we saw him play in person,
at least together.

We participated in a standing ovation for Jeter—
something I never thought would happen.

Best of all, or almost best of all,
Jose Bautista hit a home run, and
our Blue Jays were victorious!

In the days of our youth, rarely did a week pass by
without attending at least one game.

The two of us would meet at Eglinton GO Station,
and, after a short wait, quickly get away from
what we didn’t want to talk about.

We would talk about Moseby, Barfield and Bell—
and Dave Stieb and Dr. Henkenstein—

and whether this would be the year
we would finally break through—

while we passed by the factories and vacant lots,
subdivisions and shopping malls of suburbia.

We would arrive at Exhibition Stadium,
already a monument,
more historical than functional.

We knew guys who worked there—
they said rats ran
’round the bleachers
just before batting practice.

Where did the rats go during the game?
Was it safe to go to the washroom,
especially on a cold day?

After the game we would go back to Eglinton,
and, being underage, use creative means to acquire beer.

Shortly after dark, we would enter
the forest inside McCowan Road Park
to drink.

Every time we dug a new fire pit
or post holes to support a log to sit on,
we always uncovered decades of garbage.

The forest, the park, and the public school
were all built on a dump.

Purple poles positioned throughout the park
allowed pungent methane gas to escape

preventing mini-earthquakes from happening—
at least most of the time.

The creek, basically sewage,
running through McCowan Road Park
originates in the Don River.

We drank the beer complaining that it cost
nearly twelve dollars for twelve bottles.

We talked about the game, who was pitching
the next day, and when we would go again.

Or, we might plan to go to the video arcade,
or to play burby, if circumstances allowed.

We would nurse our last beers,
even talk about things rarely talked about,

in an effort to stay out long enough,
for everyone at our homes to fall asleep.

Now, we don’t go to games much anymore,
although we are as close as ever.

Maybe it’s because we can’t spend
as much time with each other.

Maybe it’s because we no longer
innocently believe in baseball’s ability
to take us away from our problems.

Maybe it’s because we don’t have
anything at home to run away from.

PHOTO: The Toronto Blue Jays play the Chicago White Sox in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on April 8. 1977 in the second game of the Blue Jays’ inaugural season. The initial game, on April 6, 1977, was played in a Toronto snowstorm. During the three-game series, the Blue Jays won the first game 9-5, lost the second game 3-2, and won the final game 3-1. (Photo by Robert Taylor, Stirling, Canada, via Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Connors’ first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was published by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. He is grateful to Silver Birch Press for their genero(u)sity in broadening his audience in 2015. Other publication credits include Spadina Literary Review, Tamaracks, released in spring 2019 by Lummox Press, and Tending the Fire, released spring 2020 by the League of Canadian Poets. His first full-length collection is forthcoming.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY
Hall of Fame
by Steven Deutsch

We were not
a wayfaring

My dad drove
a taxi nights
while mom worked days

at a discount store
How is it

no one speaks
of the weariness
of the poor?

A six-block trip
to the local
chop suey joint

after a double
was quite a night.

But the summer
I turned 12
dad announced

a vacation
to Cooperstown
at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There was not
a boy in all
of Brownsville

that didn’t envy
me that trip.
And, yes I milked it.

The three of us made
a week of it.
meandering through

the back roads
of New England—
admiring all that green,

while my dad
spoke of Ty
and Babe—

Honus and Christy
and Walter as if
speaking of old friends

and my mom
told me of my grandfather—
a man I never got to meet.

And the Museum?
Well that was
wonderful too.

PHOTO: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York by Kenneth C. Zirkel, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I read the prompt, I thought immediately of our trip to Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  I hope the poem captures the essence of that trip and of my parents. The details of the poem are not historically accurate—they never are in my work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After a glamorous childhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, Steve (and his wife, Karen) settled in State College, Pennsylvania. They have one son—the guitarist for the avant-garde group, Gang Gang Dance. Over the last two years, his work has appeared in more than two dozen print and on-line journals. He was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the current poetry editor for Centered Magazine. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published by Kelsay Press in 2019. His full length poetry book, The Persistence of Memory, has just been published by Kelsay.

Yankee Stadium in New York
Yankee Stadium
by Patrick T. Reardon

Look! There, at first base, that’s
me, leaping right full-length to nab
a flaming, screeching liner from the
brawn bat of Willie McCovey — in
my dreams — following Saint Lou
Gehrig, still ox strong until, at 37,
martyred to robber disease, luckiest
man at foreign microphone, here
near first base bag but far distant,
baseball tragedy, wasted away,
weak who had been so powered,
smiling and glee-ed behind his thick
New York accent, high voice, broad
continent of back, naked to the
heat in the slo-mo newsreel shot
of a sun-bake batting practice, a
.340 hitter, MVP, good guy, goofy
in the cowboy one-reeler, playing
himself and stopping the bad-guy
bar-fight by throwing pool balls at
them, giggling, knocking sense into
them, as America was going to have
to knock sense into the Nazis — too
late for millions, world of tragedies —
in the war that started after he was
gone, hugged by the Babe who lived
a decade longer, gaunt at the end,
who had been so beefy over dainty
feet, leaning on a bat here, pained
in painful loose uniform, who had
been Falstaff to Lou’s straight man,
hot-dog-eater to Lou’s rare steak
and mashed potatoes, hot dog to
Lou’s altar boy, as I was, amid the
church gold and echo chants, alien
incense and soaring arches, heaven
-like, who hit .111 in Little League,
talentless on the diamond except
for Major League yearning to follow
Lou with my first baseman’s glove
which, still, I take to the Stadium
(original and new) every time I go,
who will never play first base for
the Yankees, will never nab a
ballistic liner off anyone’s bat
but, wherever here, will wear
Lou’s gleam-white pinstriped home
jersey, 4. Look! There I am.

PHOTO:  Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City, NY, October 2019 by Gabriel Murad, used by permission. Opened in 2009, the stadium replaced the original Yankee Stadium, which operated from 1923-2008.

GehrigLou NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have many stories about how I — a Chicagoan who loves Chicago and has lived here all my life — fell in love with the Yankees and remain in love.  The deepest reason is Lou Gehrig.

PHOTO: Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was a first baseman with the New York Yankees for 17 seasons, from 1923-1939.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Baseball great Lou Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, which earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse.” In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team. In mid-1939 be was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neuromuscular illness now commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The disease forced him to retire at age 36, and was the cause of his death two years later. The pathos of his farewell from baseball was capped off by his iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech at Yankee Stadium. (Source: Wikipedia)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared inSilver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden, andThe Write City. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His latest book, The Loop: The “L” Tracks that Shaped and Saved Chicago, will be released on November 26, 2020, and is available for preorder. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at

My Grandfather, The Billy Goat Curse,
and Game Seven of the 2016 World Series

by Howard Richard Debs

I was ready, baseball cap and all.
He took me by the hand
as we boarded the crowded
Clark Street streetcar headed
for Wrigley Field, it was
game day, my
first with grandpa Eddie,
the first of many

It’s 5-1 Chicago heading into
the bottom of the 5th inning
then Cleveland scores 2 runs,
narrowing the lead to 5-3

He told me all about the
curse that day, how it came
to be in 1945 because a
pet goat smelled bad he
had to leave so the pet’s owner
got mad and hexed the team

In the 6th Chicago gets
another run making it 6-3
but in the 8th Cleveland
comes back with 3 of their
own to tie the score at 6 all

We had seats way up in
the bleachers. He told me
we had to keep rooting
for the Cubs no matter what,
never give up he said,
then he bought us hot dogs

After a stalemate in the 9th
with a rain delay before the start
of extra innings, in the 10th
Chicago brings in 2, with 2 away
Cleveland gets 1 more run but
a ground out gives the
Cubs the World Series win

We ate peanuts later in the game,
let the cracked shells fall at our feet,
when it came time for the 7th inning
stretch the whole crowd sang
Take Me Out to the Ballgame—
some things. . .you never forget.

–Dedicated to Cubs’ mega-fans Emily Jo Scalzo and her father, the late Stephen M. Scalzo — he was here for the win.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in my current Cubs baseball cap (not the one I had as a kid — that childhood hat is gone forever, but not the childish glee) — here shown celebrating as my beloved team depicted doing likewise on TV having won game 7 and thereby finally once again The World Series.


AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At left, the infamous William Sianis, the man who committed the dastardly deed, with his pet goat Murphy. A baseball is sewn together with 108 stitches. Maybe it’s coincidence, but it has been 108 years since the Cubs’ last title, so perhaps it was destined for “the curse” to end in 2016. At right, my maternal grandpa Eddie, a haberdasher by trade, here shown in front of his shop window, so this piece related to a hat is certainly “well-fitted.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. After 50 years in communications, and an Educational Press Association of America Distinguished Achievement Award, he resumed his creative pursuits. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work appears internationally in numerous publications recently in Yellow Chair Review, Silver Birch Press, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Dime Show Review, and the Clear Poetry 2015 Anthology. His essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” appeared in On Being – On The Blog, and his photography has been featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His full-length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words is forthcoming in early 2017 from Scarlet Leaf Publishing.


A Little Cy Young
by S.L. Kerns

At 10 years old, I stood day in and day out behind our faded, white farmhouse. Tall weeds and trees surrounded me in a square patch of grass, freshly cut for my training grounds. The Kentucky summer sun beat down on me in my navy blue Angels jersey, but I refused to strip it off.

Baseball was my passion, and I believed pitching was my destiny, even if the coaches always placed me in the outfield.

The cistern’s protective wall—concrete and on a slope—proved itself a worthy hind catcher that summer with every perfect pitch bouncing back from the chalked-up strike zone and rolling back towards me, never making me leave the dirt mound I had made.

With the only ball I owned in my right hand, I flipped it around in my black Mizuno glove—a birthday gift from Dad—testing different grips across the worn-out seams. My body and arms wound up and twisted like a contortionist caught in a cyclone, mimicking all my favorite major-leaguers: Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Hideo Nomo, and the legendary Cy Young.

In my mind, I threw fastballs, palmballs, knuckleballs, curveballs, and changeups against the greatest batters: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and the short-fused Ty Cobb. None of them could even connect a foul tip off my wicked pitches. Of course, Ty Cobb often got pissed, and even charged the mound a few times.

I threw the ball hard against that concrete surface hour after hour, day after day. Each time it returned to me there’d be a new scratch, dent, or tear. Eventually, there was nothing left, and my private, summer training ended.

PHOTO: The author in 2015 at Chuo Park in Takamatsu, Japan, wearing a Yomiuri Giants  [Tokyo] Kiyohara jersey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since moving to Japan, I’ve rediscovered my love for baseball, and wish I could go back and play again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: S.L. Kerns may have southern roots grounded in Kentucky, but has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom from being an avid reader and a good listener. He also loves bodybuilding, and likes to think of himself as one of the physically strongest prose writers since Mishima or Hemingway. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his stories. His work has been published or is forthcoming online in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, Degenerate Literature, Funny in Five Hundred, Eastlit, and in print in Kill Those Damn Cats: Lovecraftian Anthology, Anonymous Anthology, Out of the Cave, Pure Slush: Summer, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie Volume I and II. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab. Follow him here:

Jimmy Piersall1
Becoming Jimmy Piersall
by Jimmy Pappas

“Probably the best thing that happened to me was going nuts. Nobody knew who I was until that happened.” — Jimmy Piersall

I wanted to be “Jimmy” just like him, not “Jim.”
When my favorite center fielder hit his 100th
home run, he ran backwards around the bases.
I tried that with some friends but stumbled
to the ground going into second base.

Once at a Red Sox game, while all my Little League
buddies screamed at each play, I focused my attention
on Piersall. During a pitching change, Jimmy sat
on the ground tossing dirt against the left field wall
known as the Green Monster. Another player tapped
him on the shoulder to get him over to his position.
The mystery of that moment never left me.

At the time I knew nothing about his electric shock
therapy and never thought of him as mentally ill,
just different, not fitting in with the world around him.
When I watched the movie of his life story,
Fear Strikes Out, with his role played by Anthony Perkins,
who also starred as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s
Psycho, it only added to Piersall’s appeal for me.

Now, standing at the edge of a still pond,
I gather up some pebbles and toss them in,
watching where the ripples end up.

PHOTO: Jimmy Piersall (born 1929). Photo courtesy of Caption Under Photo: Back with the Red Sox after suffering a nervous breakdown last summer (1952), Piersall could become one of the league’s top fielders.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Whenever I am introduced as Jimmy, people continue to insist on calling me Jim. This poem is the true story of what originally inspired my preference for being called Jimmy. Here’s my one-that-got-away story about playing center field in the Little League: I reached over the fence to rob someone of a home run, à la Jimmy Piersall, when a boy on a bike knocked the ball away. My one chance for glory ruined.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jimmy Pappas received an MA in English Literature from Rivier University. His poems have been published in such journals as Atticus Review, Misfit Magazine, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is a recent first-prize winner of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National Contest.

PHOTO: Jimmy Pappas reminiscing about baseball.


Patrick at the Bat
by Patrick T. Reardon

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds his bat, he glares ahead, he readies for…but wait.
From out the dugout comes old Mac, the Mudville chief o’ state.
He points a finger at ol’ Case, and clears him from the plate.

“I’ve had it with you, diva. You’re just a psychiatric.
Get out of here, and we will win with ‘Thunder-hitter’ Patrick.”
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. “No, no, not ‘Thunder-hitter.’”
The name’s a joke, a josh, a jest. They are outraged and embittered.

Patrick’s average is .091. He has no vicious clout.
None in the crowd have any faith that Patrick won’t strike out.
He is not just a hoodoo, but also a devil’s food cake.
But here he comes, his eyes so wide, up to the sacred plate.

There is fear in Patrick’s manner as he steps into his place.
There is gloom in Patrick’s bearing and terror on his face.
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. But Mac has quite a scheme.
He’s bet, you see, all his dough on a win for the other team.

Two quick strikes on weakling swings, and Patrick’s in a hole.
The Mudvilles need three runs to win. He’s praying for his soul.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it wing,
And now the crowd is shattered by Patrick’s empty swing.

A strike out, sure, but, wait, look now. The catcher missed the ball.
As Patrick lumbers down the line, the catcher trips and falls.
Flynn and Blake, they both touch home, and Patrick heads for two.
The catcher throws. The shortstop waits. The toss is all askew.

At third, the Thunder-Hitter turns and heads now for home base.
The guy in right, he throws the pill and so it is a race.
The catcher reaches, grabs the ball as Patrick nears the plate.
And in the cloud of dust and blood, the umpire signals………….“Safe!”

PHOTO: Patrick T. Reardon, a Chicagoan born and bred, is a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. He would have abandoned the writing life if he could have played first base for the Yankees.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most people are familiar with “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I borrowed some of his lines and used them to new purpose in this alternate-universe version of Casey’s tragedy.  I also relied on the reader’s knowledge of the original poem so as not to have to explain, for instance, who Flynn and Blake are. Unlike Thayer, I didn’t add a final verse of the world as it existed after the game. In my mind, I guess, I think time should stop forever at the final moment, an eternal freeze-frame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon had an .091 batting average during his Little League career, but he played a mean first base.

by Victoria M. Johnson

I have no regrets.

My home.
My family.
My skinny legs.
At peace.

Five championships.
“Stay humble.”

Being surrounded by friends and family.

At home with my loved ones during the holidays.
To be able to play the piano.
To be more adventurous.
A spoiled dog.

SOURCE: Derek Jeter Proust Questionnaire (Vanity Fair, April 2011).

PHOTO: Derek Jeter by Ken Allison (2007).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Derek Jeter is a class act. He has brought much excitement and awe to the game of baseball. Yet throughout his impressive athletic career and numerous accomplishments he has remained humble and grounded. I’ll miss watching him play.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Victoria M. Johnson is a Latina writer currently living in Los Gatos, California. She is published in fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing poetry, she also writes and directs short films and micro documentaries. Visit Victoria’s website at and follow her on twitter @ByVictoriaJ or facebook.

by Patrick T. Reardon

Do you understand?
My first love.
I owe it.
Paying the price.

SOURCE:  “Exclusive Interview: Yankees’ Rodriguez discusses his enduring ‘love’ for baseball” by Joel Sherman, New York Post (July 20, 2013).

IMAGE: “To Be or not to Be in MLB” by Dan Haraga. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m a New York Yankees fan, but not especially an Alex Rodriguez fan. His interviews are fascinatingly vapid, and I wondered if there was some kernel of beauty hidden away somewhere. The one I used can be found here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a Chicagoan born and bred, is a former scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library.

by Stuart Dybek

I once hit clothespins
for the Chicago Cubs.
I’d go out after supper
when the wash was in
and collect clothespins
from under four stories
of clothesline.
A swing-and-a-miss
was a strike-out;
the garage roof, Willie Mays,
pounding his mitt
under a pop fly.
Bushes, a double,
off the fence, triple,
and over, home run.
The bleachers roared.
I was all they ever needed for the flag.
New records every game—
once, 10 homers in a row!
But sometimes I’d tag them
so hard they’d explode,
legs flying apart in midair,
pieces spinning crazily
in all directions.
Foul Ball! What else
could I call it?
The bat was real.

SOURCE: “Clothespins” appears in Stuart Dybek‘s collection Brass Knuckles (Carnegie Mellon, 2004), available at

PHOTO: “Clothespins” by A River Runs Through It, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry. Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded the a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.