Archives for posts with tag: Baseball

by Lisa Olstein

At first he seemed a child,
dirt on his lip and the sun
lighting up his hair behind him.

All around us, the hesitation
of year-rounders who know
the warmer air will bring crowds.

No one goes to their therapist
to talk about how happy they are,
but soon I’d be back in the dugout

telling my batting coach how
the view outside my igloo seemed
to be changing, as if the night

sky were all the light there is.
Now, like two babies reaching
through the watery air to touch soft

fingers to soft forehead, like blind fish
sensing a familiar fluttering in the waves,
slowly, by instinct, we became aware.

Off-field, outside the park, beyond
the gates, something was burning.
The smell was everywhere.

Source: Radio Crackling Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Lisa Olstein received a BA from Barnard College and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her first book of poems, Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (2006), won the Copper Canyon Press Hayden Carruth Award. Olstein is also the author of the poetry collections Lost Alphabet (2009), named one of the nine best poetry books of the year by Library Journal, and Little Stranger (2013). Her poems have appeared in the Iowa ReviewDenver QuarterlyLIT, and other journals. She has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Centrum. She teaches in the New Writers Project at the University of Texas-Austin. (Source:

PHOTO: Ron Santo, born in Seattle, Washington in 1940,  was a third baseman in Major League Baseball who played from 1960-1974, all but the last year with the Chicago Cubs. A nine-time National League (NL) All-Star, he batted .300 and hit 30 home runs four times each, and is the only third baseman in major league history to post eight consecutive seasons with 90 runs batted in (RBI) (1963–1970). He was the second player at his position to hit 300 career home runs, joining Eddie Mathews, and also ended his career ranking second to Mathews among third basemen in slugging average (.464) and third in runs batted in (1,331), total bases (3,779) and walks (1,108). He passed away in 2010. (Source:

Poem by Gerald Locklin  

When Lassie is introduced  
At half-time of the Mets’
A voice rings out: “It’s an imposter!”

by Joan Jobe Smith

I’ve begun to drink from The Joe
DiMaggio Cup I’ve kept put away for
years, a black, rather pretty thing
with a wing-like handle Joe DiMaggio
drank Cappuccino from I served him
one night when I worked as a cocktail
waitress in a swanky hotel and when
Joe DiMaggio didn’t want a second one
I snuck the cup into my purse,
Joe DiMaggio’s lip prints were washed away
years ago but I like to imagine them
still there handsome-thick, dark Italian
barely middle-aged next to mine as I
sip from The Cup and wonder: if only
I hadn’t asked him something personal
about Marilyn Monroe, maybe he might’ve
flirted with my fishnet stockings
and asked me my name.

by Joan Jobe Smith

In sixth grade when my little girlfriends all began
en masse to unfurl plump blossoming pink into
woman cake and I stayed 4-foot-2, weighed 48
pounds and liked to play baseball instead of kiss
boys, the girls teased me that I was a midget or
maybe even a hermaphrodite so playing short stop
was the right place for me shortstopped like I was
in time as I ran in and out of inner and outer field
catching pop flies, shortstopping line drives and
swinging around to tag the runner stealing third base.
Then at home on weekends while my workaholic
father fixed stuff in his garage, I’d sneak to watch the
Pacific Coast League on tv: the Los Angeles Angels,
the Hollywood Stars, learned how to kick my feet
into the dust at home plate, wipe some dust on my
bat and swing wide and swift like Steve Bilko who
was Southern California’s answer to Babe Ruth and
I taught myself to spit like Steve Bilko, make it flip
in the air before it hit the dirt and when my team won
I put my fingers in my mouth and whistled so loud it
made church bells ring in the next town. It was good
to keep my mind off all that troubling hermaphrodite
stuff with all my short stopping during that short
stopping of time when the moon and stars didn’t yet
know my name or where to find me to turn me into a
woman and later it all paid off when I was a cocktail
waitress all grown up in a swanky hotel and met Joe
DiMaggio and asked while I served him a Cappuccino
Whatever happened to Steve Bilko? and Joe DiMaggio
asked me while eyeing my cleavage and fishnet stockings:
YOU know who Steve Bilko is? Yes, I growled like a
tough sixth grade boy who plays shortstop: Steve Bilko
taught me how to spit that day when the score was 1-0
in the bottom of the 9th and Steve Bilko hit a grand slam.
I don’t know for sure if Steve Bilko ever did that but it
made Joe DiMaggio laugh and give me his autograph.

by Roger Angell

Baseball’s time is seamless and invisible, a bubble within which players move at exactly the same pace and rhythms as all their predecessors. This is the way the game was played in our youth and in our father’s youth, and even back in the country days there must have been the same feeling that time could be stopped.

Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you I and have to do is succeed utterly – keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.
Originally published in 1972, The Summer Game, a book of essays by Roger Angell is available at The site describes the book this way: “The Summer Game, Roger Angell’s first book on the sport, changed baseball writing forever. Thoughtful, funny, appreciative of the elegance of the game and the passions invested by players and fans, it goes beyond the usual sports reporter’s beat to examine baseball’s complex place in our American psyche.”

PHOTO: Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees) at bat, with Hank Erickson (Cincinnati Reds) catching (1936)

by John Updike

It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even, 
until you stand up to the plate
and see the fastball sailing inside, 
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield 
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not—those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive, 
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop’s wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball’s 
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines,
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It’s easy to do. Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath 
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance 
of failure is everybody’s right, 
beginning with baseball. 

Photo: Ted Williams and colleagues, Boston Red Sox opening day, 1947. Brearley Collection, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

by Marianne Moore

…Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either
how it will go
or what you will do; 
generating excitement –
a fever in the victim –
pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.
Victim in what category?
Owlman watching from the press box?
To whom does it apply
Who is excited? Might it be I?

Photo: Poet Marianne Moore (1887-1972) throwing out the first pitch of the NY Yankees’ 1968 season.

by Gregory Corso

I dreamed Ted Williams
leaning at night
against the Eiffel Tower, weeping.
He was in uniform
and his bat lay at his feet
–knotted and twiggy.

“Randall Jarrell says you’re a poet!” I cried.
“So do I! I say you’re a poet!”
He picked up his bat with blown hands;
stood there astraddle as he would in the batter’s box,
and laughed! flinging his schoolboy wrath
toward some invisible pitcher’s mound
–waiting the pitch all the way from heaven.
It came; hundreds came! all afire!
He swung and swung and swung and connected not one
sinker curve hook or right-down-the-middle.
A hundred strikes!
The umpire dressed in strange attire
thundered his judgment: YOU’RE OUT!
And the phantom crowd’s horrific boo
dispersed the gargoyles from Notre Dame.
And I screamed in my dream:
God! throw thy merciful pitch!
Herald the crack of bats!
Hooray the sharp liner to left!
Yea the double, the triple!
Hosannah the home run! 

Photo: “Lightning at the Eiffel Tower” by M. G. Loppé, 1902 (One of the earliest photographs of lightning in an urban setting.)



“The moon had been observing the earth close-up longer than anyone. It must have witnessed all of the phenomena occurring – and all of the acts carried out – on this earth. But the moon remained silent; it told no stories. All it did was embrace the heavy past with a cool, measured detachment. On the moon there was neither air nor wind. Its vacuum was perfect for preserving memories unscathed. No one could unlock the heart of the moon.” HARUKI MURAKAMI, 1Q84

PHOTO: Fans sit as the moon rises behind them during the Los Angeles Angels’ baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


CHRONICLES, Volume One (Excerpt)

Memoir by Bob Dylan

“[In 1961] I didn’t follow baseball that much but I did know that Roger Maris who was with the Yankees was in the process of breaking Babe Ruth’s home-run record…Maris was from Hibbing, Minnesota…On some level I guess I took pride in being from the same town. There were other Minnesotans, too, that I felt akin to. Charles Lindberg, the first aviator to fly nonstop across the Atlantic in the ‘20s. He was from Little Falls. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a descendant of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and who himself wrote The Great Gatsby, was from St. Paul…Sinclair Lewis had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first American to do so. Lewis had written Elmer Gantry and was the master of absolute realism, had invented it. He was from Sauk Center, Minnesota. And then there was Eddie Cochran, one of the early rock-and-roll geniuses who was from Albert Lee, Minnesota. Native sons—adventurers, prophets, writers, and musicians. They were all from the North Country. Each one followed their own vision, didn’t care what the pictures showed. Each one of them would have understood what my inarticulate dreams were about. I felt like I was one of them or all of them put together.”

Note: This quote from the final pages of Chronicles, Volume One, by Bob Dylan called to mind other favorite artists from Minnesota, though Dylan wouldn’t have been aware of them in 1961. A nod to filmmakers Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Fargo) and Terry Gilliam (Brazil), author Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), cartoonist Charles M. Schultz (Peanuts), and musician Prince.

Published in 2004, Chronicles, Volume One, by Bob Dylan has met with critical and reader acclaim — and was one of five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dylan is currently working on Chronicles, Volume Two.