Archives for posts with tag: Ted Williams

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BASEBALL
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.

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DREAM OF A BASEBALL STAR
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.)

Image

DREAM OF A BASEBALL STAR

Poem 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.)

Image

BASEBALL

Poem 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.