Baseball Poetry

Dedicated to the writing of those invited to participate in a baseball poetry project. Those invited were asked to 1) go to a baseball game, any game and 2) create a poem, in any shape or form about that particular game or some memory of baseball, for the purpose of developing a collection. Most baseball poetry collections are ones culled from the works of famous poets; this one is designed to be more democratic, inviting some established poets and others moved to write baseball poems.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fans Forever/ We've Moved

Fans Forever
Roseanne Krubsack

A wall in Chicago now stands

For the ashes of many Cub’s fans

And while they still wait

It’s not by the plate

But with the celestial bands

We've Moved
Roseanne Krubsack

From Wrigley field to Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery

From the stands to the red brick wall

From seats to blue and white urns


The venue has changed

But the goal remains the same.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cubs March through October

ivy leaves fade
green to yellow-orange and red
hope blossoms to blue

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Recipe for Fun

Dean Gilliland

Uniforms and baseball bats
buses and gloves
Splinters on benches
and penalties for shoves
Getting blisters when you bat
and championships won
Going swimming after games
Baseball is what you call fun.

Dean is the son of proud mother Amber
Rogers, formerly McNeil, see her poem about
Dean, below. Dean wrote this poem in 5th grade
at Whittier Elementary School in Oak Park, IL.
He now attends Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School
in Oak Park.
It's an example of "Recipe Poetry"
-what they were working on in class.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Strike Three: You're In: Mudville Keeps the Faith

Bernie Van't Hul
Dedicated to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez

The umpire roared "Strike Three." You're in
A slump, yes. But trust me, Yankees win.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ya Gotta Believe

William Krubsack

To root for the Cubs is to test one's faith,
For at times they've played with the worst.

And yet, there were moments of saving grace,
As it went from Banks to Baker to first.

A team in contention draws fans to the park,
From as far a-field as Wauwatosa.

At times, the lures were those sultans of swat,
Mighty sluggers like Sandberg and Sosa.

To win the title would ruin it all,
As their home would become a house without love.

Moving the franchise simply cannot be done,
For Chicago fits the Cubs like a glove.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Crossing Enemy Lines

Kristin Bush

I had planned this evening for weeks.
A beautiful May night at the ballpark with friends.
But now, due to circumstances beyond my control
Because I live in a community where everyone is related to everyone else,
Two of my tickets were given to

My student.

And not just any student--
The one who caws like a crow out my window daily--
The one who groans in exasperation whenever he’s asked to do
Anything beyond breathing--
The one who raises his hand to respond to every question but whose answers
Come from his bottomless pit of irrelevant responses--
The bane of my existence: the sophomore boy.
Sworn enemies.

Seven rows up on the right field line
His dad between us as a buffer zone,
We sat in seats so close you could see
the scuffs on Cliff Floyd’s cleats.
“Prime foul ball territory,” I said to him.
He just nodded as we rose for the national anthem.
By the first inning, we were
Awkward adversaries on neutral ground.

We groaned as Uggla and Cabrera launched white missiles into the stands--
Our team in the hole right off the bat.
We found ourselves heckling the other bullpen--together.
By the fifth inning, we were
wary allies.

We buried our faces at a 3 K performance by Soriano--
(Shouldn’t he be good on his own bobblehead night?)
The game was a rout,
So we leaned forward eagerly and swapped autograph war stories,
Laughing and joking around his dad.

Politely and unprompted, he looked me in the eye and said,
“Thank you for the tickets.”
By the ninth inning, I could see David as
A civil human being.

Later I heard he said, “She’s pretty cool, when she’s not in class.”

I agreed.

The Ballgame

Harold Krubsack

Watched a ballgame today.
Reds came to Wrigley Field.
Cubs won 12 to Four.
Strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer giving the line-ups.
No national anthem—tho some guy stood in the on-deck circle with a mic and the crowd stood up. Suppose that was the “Star spangled Banner”. I stood up.
My kind of game, lots of hits and lots of runs. Don’t like those pitchers’ duels where everyone sits on their hands and nothing happens for nine innings. This crowd stood up, waved their arms and stomped their feet, but a strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
Cubs opened with four runs in the first. Looked like a walk-away game for them. Crowd stood with arms waving and feet stomping the whole inning.
Reds answered with four runs in the next inning and the walk-away evaporated. No standing, no booing this inning. Strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
With the game tied, we all needed our resolve strengthened so we ordered beers and some snacks. Paid six bucks for two dollars worth of beer, four bucks for a dollar hot dog, and another three bucks for fifty cents worth of peanuts. Could have bought season tickets for that much in 61* when I watched Roger Maris and Micky Mantle each bang out homers in a double header at Boston. That was the year of the real home run race.
Reds popped one homer in their four run rally. Just made it over the wall, but still a homer.
Still more zeros on the scoreboard. Strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
Cubbies scored another run, then the game went stagnant. More refreshments were ordered and consumed in hopes it would create action.
I remember action. Our neighbors, Ray and Mary Fletcher, took my brother and me to a Milwaukee Braves game. That was the team to see in those days. My Dad didn’t care for sports much and Ray and Mary felt sorry for us kids so offered to take us to the game. Great game that day. Joe Adcock knocked out four homers in that game. An historic moment for a ten year old kid—probably for Joe Adcock too. My brother was a Brooklyn Dodger fan so wasn’t quite as happy with the game, but we still had a great time at our first ever major league game.
Cubs and Reds putting goose eggs on the scoreboard. Strange game.

No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
Another round of beers, but not a round of action.
Went to Washington, D.C. with my brother when I was 13 and he was twelve. Dad was a railroad man so we got free rail passes every summer. Went to D.C. to see our national monuments and museums. Took the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Chicago. Saw all the sights and one night decided to take in a baseball game—Washington Senators vs: Detroit Tigers. Tigers were hot that year. Al Kaline and Harvey Keuhn were burning up the league. Kaline popped one out of the park that night, but Keuhn didn’t do much. We cheered him anyway cause he married a girl from our home town. Knew her younger sister a bit as she used to babysit around the neighborhood. Got some funny looks from fans sitting around us, but guess they were Senator fans.
Still more goose eggs, and still more beers. From a walk-away game, to a close battle, a strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
By the sixth round of beers, the action began. My bladder was acting full, so I took my seventh inning stretch walking the catacombs under the stands. Found the men’s room, then another beer stand for a re-fill.
Back to my seat and all are standing, so I stand. Seems there is action again. Cubs blasted away. A single, a pair of doubles, more singles, more doubles. Seven runs in the seventh inning and it looked like our walk-away game was here again. Seventh inning stretch lasted the whole inning with everyone standing, waving arms and stomping feet. Strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
That was it for action. Even another round of six dollar beer didn’t change that. Crowd began to thin out. Then, top of the ninth, the Reds did some hitting and it looked like it might change the game. But, it fizzled out when Ken Griffey (the Jr.) blooped the final out with men in scoring position. The crowd stood and waved good-by.
Cubs had a season high record 20 hits—all singles and doubles.
Reds had nine hits—one homer. My kind of game, but a strange game.
No roar of the crowd.
No stadium organ music.
No P.A. announcer.
Been deaf now two years this June.
WATCHED a ballgame today.

Monkey Dreams

Roxanne Pilat

When I was a little girl, I think my uncle took me
to the fights. Just once.

The kind of place I had only seen in the black-white
world of a nine-inch Zenith enshrined in a blond
wooden box, guarded by the blessed mother Mary,
who stood atop a doily on the sacred sarcophagus.

On this screen I watched the Friday night fights,
with my uncle and grandfather, sitting cross-legged
on the floor of my grandparent’s den, when I stayed
with them each summer, when I was a girl.

No one else remembers that trip to the fights,
but I do. Though its memory is smothered
in cigar smoke and the swagger of sweaty men,
and my uncle has been dead for many years.
I can’t get him to tell me now. Whether it’s true
or not. Whether I dreamed it. Or made it up.

He used to call me monkey, this uncle of mine.
I was charmed by the small hug of that word,
which must have meant I was his pet. I
only figured this out a few years ago, when
I found myself closer to the age he was then.

He was kind to me in uncle fashion, a way
that he had not been to his own children,
when they were my age. Or even
to his wife, I’m told.

He lost them all. His wife died of childbirth.
His children raised by other family members.
He didn’t know. He hadn’t figured out how
to be a husband to her.
And he couldn’t figure out how
to be a father without her.

He had wanted to play major league ball.
In photos he’s poised proud and lean,
in minor flannels: clenching a mitt,
dreaming a wish that vanished in the
I do’s and I will’s he uttered to himself
when his father died too early
and he had to put the mitt away.

But all of this happened before I was born.
By the time that I was a little girl, he had softened,
they said, and he would take to calling me
monkey, walking with me to places
that I knew mostly by their smells:
the cinnamon-dust of the donut shop;
the tobacco-varnish of a bowling alley, where
puppet-like hands still set the pins.

And I do think he took me to the fights once,
where I stood, too warm, in my navy blue
snowsuit, and white overboots,
next to men like my uncle. They sat
in suspendered suitpants and crisp white shirts:
lifting charcoal fedora hats, wiping brows with
handkerchiefs. Cheering cursing calling to
boxers I never saw, because I was too short.

He didn’t smile much, even there, except
when he gave me a stick of red licorice
I didn’t really want, but ate anyway,
so as not to not hurt his feelings.
Because he already seemed too hurt.

I sucked slowly, slowly on the fruity sugar
until my throat felt thick and confused with
strawberry sadness, all mixed up with the stench
of scotch and Old Spice lingering over us
in the neon air.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nine Inning Game

Dan DeVries

All World Lucky Day 7-7-07


Following a TV conversation between Giants Broadcasters Duane Kuiper and color fill-in Bip Roberts after St. Louis utility player Aaron Miles makes three errors at shortstop in an inning, unintentionally providing the last place Giants a 7-3 lead against the World Champion, but 8½ game back, St. Louis Cardinals.

Second. Vizquel gets rid of his hat.

Going straight back
damned thing gets

in the way. Omar
has a flip leaves a hat

way behind on his
way into short left.


Joe Morgan once made
three errors in a game.

It pissed him off.
It pissed him off even

more when Tito Fuentes
made three errors too

and pulled himself. Big
Leaguers are supposed

to be
better than that.


Miles grounds into a
bang-bang 3-1 with

the based loaded and
the score 7-6
in the Cardinal 8th.


Omar starts a double play
off Pujols grounder in the 9th.


Hennessey faces Chris Duncan
who has homered off him
twice in two at bats, so far,

in history. Gets to
3-2. Walks him. Brings up Rolen.


Scott Rolen once
got into my friend Terry Little’s

cab when he was a
Phillie Rookie and said

“Show me the Haight.
Show me the House

where the Dead and Janis
lived. “ Terry did. Sd that

Scott Rolen was the nicest baseball player,
and quite possibly the nicest civilian,
he ever met.


With one on and two out in the 9th
Rolen grounds out to Vizquel.
Giants win 7-6.

Ninth. Also Happened, same game . . .

Vizquel passed Aparicio for
for most hits by a shortstop . . .

ever . . .
at least that what they’re saying . . .

2353, or sumfinlike that.

-- Dan De Vries --

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Baseball: A Friends' Delight

Eric Glicker

Striding through the parking lot, lost among a cacophony of cars

Friend and his wife meeting me between two giant catcher's mitts

Cell phone rings; confirming my arrival; destination stadium ahead

All around swarms of folks; happy faces, "the bee's knees"—Baseball!

Angels we have heard on high, eleven tickets in the nosebleed section:

Perched atop right field; tired vendors crawling, melting ice cream…

The Rangers deep-in-the-harta-of-Disney OC take the field of dreams

Mega-state ball teams rolling; Big-Box-Bucks, sold-out crowd of 44,000;

Here goes the pitch, up comes my heart hoping for action—Go Team!

Dance the dance—get down tonight, shoot for the lights, hit it so right;

Make the fans scream, 2002 World Series, this could be our reunion;

Innings come and go; Life: a Series of transitions—fate is our umpire…

Check my messages, guess who foned? IUP folks say wishUWRhere!

Steve, Marjie…a chorus of friends, study in PA, in summer faraway...

Call to thank'em, 4 hours flight, my heart arrives first: Wishing 2Bthere!

Returning-present game…Any body score? Friend Dan signals Zippo

Go to grab some grub; want anything? Hot dog + chips=good times…

Line is long, go down a floor; stadium marketplace—beer and cheer;

Back to the seat, bearing burdens of fast food-guilty for those in need:

The Food Courtesian; "We think; Darfur don't eat"; mankind my brothers

Finally—Vlade Guerrero doubles on the outfield wall—eruptions of joy!

Back in the game: say my name; say my name, "Kotchman's Ribbie…"

We score; High-fiving my friends…Staying in first place another day

Take me out to the ball game, forget my pains, be one with the crowd!

Someone says fireworks shooting up soon...colored skies; soulful music

Whatta show—like the Fourth—we OO and AH; Upper deck's not too bad!

Why does the game gotta end? Doubleheaders are better than one shot,

The Eyes have it! Our voices second "Aye!" A bloggin' we will go!

Bio: Eric Glicker is a community college instructor in Southern California. He has also been a high school teacher. He is currently working on his PhD. in English Composition and TESOL at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the Co-Chair for the Blogs, Wikis and Social Software SIG at the College Composition & Communication Conference. He recently had an article on service-learning published in CATESOL, a peer-reviewed academic journal. Eric has worked with organizations such as the Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Steal

Todd Wolbers

Signal from shady dugout to first:
The eye? The EYE! The indicator!—
Knee-and-point the green light
One extra heartbeat
Sidestep to starting block

Thrower eyes The Look with a toss—
Slide back to bag

Careful shuffle to toe the edge
Dangling hands with twitching fingers attached
Eyes right then front, left then front.
The discarded hot dog wrapper ballet pauses mid-twirl,
Swiss time ticks and stops
An unfinished breath

Screams scratched out by tearing wind,
Concentration and speed.
Strides catch up
As blockers close in
For the relay
Headfirst hand under

Tag down dirt sweep
Eyes wait on the dusty scrutiny
Of bloated napoleons.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wrigley Concourse

Patrick Somerville

Down in line in the belly
of the old stadium, waiting for a
pretzel with spiced cheese, it was the fifth inning on a June evening,
a lull, and I saw a young man, overweight,
eyes glazed with hope and beer,
shirt too tight like he thought maybe the
fat might be construed as muscle from a miracle
angle, watch a girl in another line and lean
to his friend and I heard him
say, “I’m actually just going to do it,” and then he
turned his hat around and then he
walked across the concrete to her and then he
started to talk to her and I thought: no, friend,
simple, I have seen love die early like this before:
she is too beautiful for you.

Also, behind me, two friends, one phone rang
and he answered with a boorish “What’s up?” so
close to my neck I felt the wet letters hit my skin. He
talked and closed with “Bye, baby,” and his friend said, cold and grim,
“I know you,” and he said, “What does that mean, Yoda?” and
his friend said, “Why you always be so up on all of them? You
sound corny,” and he said, “It’s always some shit with you. Don’t
ruin my night.” “Man, whatever,” the other said. “Okay, yeah. Whatever.”
The phone rang and again he answered and this time he said, “You
already got it for us, too?” like a happy kid and I felt them depart behind
me like the wind, together.

I left early in the eighth to get home and I missed a
Cubs fan charge the mound and a
comeback and
a comeback, so much, just
so I would not be something. Instead I rode the Brown
Line with tired people in the dark who had not been watching baseball.

Statistics Means Never Having to Say You’re Certain

Danielle Evans

One, the number of times you’ve been on a real
baseball field before tonight, sitting so far up in
the bleachers that with your eyes closed
you hear only the birds and the L rumble
and think this could be the beach, or
Two, the number of men on each team
so beautiful you’d marry them tonight,
no questions asked, or
Three or Four, the number of friends you made
whose names you’ve already forgotten,
or, Five, the number of dollars your friend
overtipped the server, for coming
all the way back to the ninth row
of the last section, to bring more Bud Light.

Sometimes I wish I’d been a mathematician,
the kind of person who could find order
anywhere. Instead, we’ve found a Russian,
an FBI agent, two marines and kid
from Nebraska. While row 8 gets rowdy
with each pitch, I read the television screens
like they are novels, watch the numbers flashing
across the bottom for each batter like they are not
records of the number of times the bat
connected with the ball, or the number of games
won in a season, but a complicated
all encompassing index of value, one that will
tell you not just how fast each man runs, but what it is
he dreams of getting to, at night when he is alone
with his hotel linen.

Maybe the numbers are, in the end,
total values, maybe playing any game
runs the risk of becoming nothing but numbers,
maybe your own life could be reduced to similar
calculus, if anyone cared. A happiness index:
what you are grateful for, minus what you
take for granted, divided by what you want squared.
A lifetime achievement score:
what you have won, divided by what
you deserved. A purity test:
the number of people you’ve loved,
divided by the number of times you said fuck me
and didn’t mean it. A moral aptitude test:
how often you blame Eve minus
how often you blame the serpent, divided by
how often you blame the damned apple—
which, historians say, wasn’t
an apple anyway, but probably a pomegranate,
owing to the climate. Unless, of course,
there really was an Eden
in which case geography is useless,
our maps being charts of only what we’ve known
we’ve lost. Here on this earth someone still
has to lose, take one less mark in the win column
become a slight percentage more mortal,
as soon as the floodlights dim
the rest of us must bleed home slowly,
pass the remains of crushed beer and popcorn,
become the reduction of a crowd to singular
elements of motion, accept the reduction
of ourselves by one night, one less chance
to be anything else.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Elegy to Grandpa Hans

(After A. Van Jordan)
Peter Kahn

June 1970. New York. In your green cloth Lazy-Boy, smoke pop flies from your pipe. NY Times smears your hands grey. Tom Seaver pitches for the Mets. You call me to your lap. Hands are catcher’s mitts. Forearms, Louisville Sluggers. Silver beard grows thick like just clipped outfield grass. It tickles my baseball-smooth face.

July 1984. Ohio. I get home late. Chew mints like Skoal. Grandma’s long asleep. I hear ball pop off Strawberry’s bat. Smoke climbs basement stairs when I open door to watch 11th inning with you. Go to bed and dream of strike four with Susan Nay.

January 1991. Florida. “It must’ve been something I ate,” is what you tell me Grandma told you before she took a nap. You checked on her an hour later. She never woke up. After the funeral, we go back to the house. You don’t read the Times. Don’t turn on the t.v. Don’t light your pipe. Sit in your Lazy-Boy and stare until tears roll like a slow bunt down both our faces.

May 1993. Ohio. I visit you and your broken hip. You call for Grandma before getting back to your game. You’re batter up. You’re in Germany. It’s 1921 to you and you hit a triple. You’ve never played baseball, but you’re playing today. You tell me Grandma’s going to make you a bologna on rye sandwich. You smile like it’s 1969 or ’86 and the Mets are miraculous again.

June 1994. Ohio. We bring you over to the house. A field trip from your room at the Forum. Your silver walker won’t let you descend to your “cave.” We let you watch baseball upstairs. Mom even tells you it’s ok to smoke your pipe. It’s been 3 and ½ years since you’ve bothered.

May 1996. Ohio. I fly home to see you. You’re hunched over in a wheel chair. Your head snaps up when I call your name. Mom and Dad haven’t told you it’s your 11th inning. That cancer’s corked swing through your bones is what’s causing your legs to ache. They ask me to try to hold on to the secret so your spirits don’t dwell even deeper in the cellar. You say, “So, you’ve come from Chicago to say good bye to your Grandpa?” I lower my head; nod yes. Your head drops.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Corner

Todd DeStigter

You can always talk about baseball, even to an eight year old girl

You can talk about how Tiger Stadium opened in 1912—two years before Wrigley Field—at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull

About its 440 foot center field wall—the farthest (by far, ever) in the major leagues

And that only four players in history (Harmon Killebrew in ‘62, Frank Howard in ‘68, Cecil Fielder in ‘90 and Mark McGwire in ‘97) have homered over the left field roof

You can talk about Norm Cash’s glove and Al Kaline’s bat and Denny McLain’s 30 wins in ’68 or Gibson’s homer to right in game six of the ’84 series

You can’t really talk about why you and her mom split up and left her home alone after school (That’s a corner you can’t talk your way out of) You can’t talk much about adult things that even now you don’t much understand

But she can talk about how she was the only one in her class who knew that Ty Cobb had a .367 lifetime average and about having her picture taken standing on the base of a street lamp with the stadium walls, looming and massive like the hull of a battleship, in the background

She can talk about hot chocolate at cold May night games

She can talk about how good it felt in terrace reserved with the upper deck leaning over us like a blanket

You can’t talk about lots of things

But you can always talk about baseball.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers vs. Beloit Snappers, August 5, 2006

David Schaafsma

Seventh Beloit home run disappears
Into a stand of pines, two Sand
Hill Cranes split the moon

I Once Was Mark The Bird Fidrych's Substitute Mailman

David Schaafsma

I know Northboro pretty well
You go door to door every day
You get to know a town well, maybe too well
But for years I was a substitute carrier
On Keigo’s route, the name
Mark Fidrych, The Bird
On one of four hundred mailboxes

‘74 pumping gas at the Sunoco
Algonquin diploma in hand
Spring training ‘76―a Tiger
If they want me to be a bat boy, I’ll do it
Coleman gets the flu, Bird gets his shot
Retires the first fourteen Indians, two hitter

That summer Ford pardons Nixon
Bird starts the All Star game
The summer of disco, Mark borrowing
Tommy Veryzer’s i.d. to dance The Fried Egg

You remember what he was like:
When I’m out there the mound belongs to me
Talk to the ball, point where it has to go
Throw back balls that have hits in them
Manicure the mound on hands and knees
Strut around the mound after every out, run on
And off the field every inning

Manager Ralph Houk said, I’ve never seen anything like it
Not even Walter Johnson started this fast

This is how it fell apart, and it always does
But not usually this sudden
Goofing around in center field, spring training ’77
Blows his knee out, cartilage torn
In July, his arm, it just feels dead,
Torn rotator and it’s over

Nineteen wins one season, eight wins the next four years
And just like that he’s done, he’s toast
Summer ‘74 pumping gas and in ‘82
Back pumping gas, glass slipper
No longer fits

A contractor in Northboro today
53, just like me
I like to drive truck, he said when he played
So that’s what he does, commercial trucker
Ten wheeler, hauling gravel and asphalt

Some people say I look like him
Same height, same age, same curly mop of hair in those days
Road trip that summer to see him at Tiger Stadium
Couple kids ask me for his autograph
My buddies have a good laugh as I sign their gloves

I left the P.O. and Northboro in ‘97
Keigo retired and I had the chance to take his route
I would have become Mark Fidrych’s mailman!
But to take any job for ten years
Makes it your career
I had bigger plans for my life

I ran into him just once:
Crazy blizzard winter of ‘95
Three feet of snow, I see a guy digging out mail boxes
As I come with the mail the guy says
I’ll have this dug out in a couple minutes, sir
And I see it was the Bird
Sir, he calls me, a guy who once pitched
The All Star Game!
No problem, I appreciate it, I say, and I did
Standing there, with an armful
Of Rolling Stones and electric bills

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rain Delay

Wendy Atterberry

Cinco de Mayo, 2006:
Not a baseball game, dinner. Sushi, to be exact.
And I am sitting with a man in Soho who speaks with his hands
and eyebrows.
He drops his chopsticks a lot,
they punctuate his nerves.
It's a Friday and I'm wearing a skirt and heels.

On Sunday we sit in Washington Square Park and laugh.
"There's a fly on my shoe," says an old man
to his lady friend,
"Look at that," he says in a thick New York old man Jewish accent,
"I have a friend."
He sings Sinatra songs to her,
and she clasps her hand around his arm and smiles.

It's three months before I watch a game with the Yankee fan.
He's come to Chicago to see Tom Waits,
and me.
"The Yankees are playing the Sox tomorrow night," he says.
And I nod. I have other plans.
"The Yankees are playing the Sox tonight," he says the next morning, and I
"We don't even have tickets," I tell him.
"The Yankees are playing the Sox in one hour," he says later that day.
"Fine," I reply, "you have to buy me a hotdog."

Outside the stadium someone sells us $27 tickets for $30 apiece
and we think that's pretty good.
The game is rain delayed for two hours and
inside the stadium we cover our heads
with White Sox hand towels,
and sip syrupy Margaritas.
It's $1 hotdog night and we eat 5.

It's a Thursday and I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
He still speaks with his hands
and eyebrows,
but time and Margaritas have calmed his nerves.
We have two more days
before he flies back to New York.
And three weeks before I go to him.

"Tomorrow we do whatever you want," he says
when the Yankees lose at midnight,
6 hours after we've left home.
We walk to the redline through drizzle.
I clasp my hand around his arm and smile.
"Thanks for the hotdogs," I reply, wiping rain
from his brows
with a White Sox hand towel.
"You're welcome," he says as we run for the train
and head home.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Requiem for a Pitcher

Dan DeVries

--He wasn’t scared of nothin’, Boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

--Guy and Susanna Clark, lines from “The Cape”

And it is a leap of faith
to pitch for George Shipbuilder.

Sz George to St. Joseph

“I expect a great deal from you . . .
Yes I am deeply disappointed . . .
We have to do better . . .
I deeply want a championship . . .

I have high expectations . . .
I want to see enthusiasm . . .
Responsibility is yours, Joe . . .”

Instruction like that from the top
doesn’t necessarily cause
airplanes to fly into buildings
in the borough of Manhattan

but doesn’t there seem to be a
certain structural similarity to
all suicide missions?

RIP Cory. And your flight instuctor.
And the horse he rode in on.
Jealousy and stupidity
Don't equal harmony

as John Prine once said.
In the next world you are
on your own, although there will
probably be shipbuilders there, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Repeat - for Dean

Amber McNeil

Bases loaded
Bottom of the 6th
Two outs
Down by 1

Pitcher and Infield exchange
smirks and high-fives

#3 up to the plate

Shortstop screams,
“We got a hitter!” and in one
motion the team takes


1 practice swing
2 practice swings

Mom yells,
“You got this buddy!”

She sees a dimple.
She shows a dimple.

Crowd hears, “CRACK!”


Ball still in play

#3 out at 3rd

No Grand Slam
A title defended

August 1, 2006 (unedited version)

Amber McNeil

She traveled from
Blue Line
Red Line
The Bar on Sheffield

In honor of Baseball
and from what poems may yield

In the company of authors, professors
and those with

She ate, drank
anticipated the game
intimidated (and famished)

Poems were read and discussed
(and discussed with intelligence)
Good Lord, she thought
They’re smarter when they’re drunk,
Flagged down the ditzy barmaid
and said, “Two more gins.”

In honor of Baseball and Poetry,
glasses were raised
Think of yourself an intellectual.
She did
and was amazed.

Clung to that thought she
floated on over to Wrigley
Right now’s about the game.
“GO CUBBIES!” she shouted, giggly.

Like good authors, professors
and those with

Dutifully they spun out poems on the
WEB with a rampage.

(the “she” in this forsaken piece)
contribute these words to that
Sheffield and Wrigley experience

To satisfy a professor’s nagging
and prove once for all
my content and form is lacking.

The game enjoyed
The Cubs’ big win
A pitcher’s surprisingly good night
she thought,
Just one more gin.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

When They Got Strict in Single A

George Cooper

Dollar Day in Single A
Would bring out the crowd,
So the usher said when he
Insisted we sit in our seats in the sun,
3 and 4, Row B, Section C.

It would be just an hour
Before the sun sets behind
Hills in the west
And the ladies come out
From their wide brimmed hats.

That wouldn’t suit her
Who hadn’t come for the game
Or dollar hot dogs and beer
But to sit in shade and read,
I reasoned with him.

There is no one here.
We’ll move if someone comes.
We asked for seats in the shade.
We aren’t scared of rain.
When did you get so strict in Single A?

It is all like that
For Bubba, Pena, and Hilligoss
Salazar, Valdez, O’Brian—
Names of the future
Bearing names of the past.

No one to carry their bags
From Aberdeen to Lowell
Oneonta to Auburn to State College
Aboard the night envisioning 3 for 4
When 1 of a hundred reaches the majors.

Esequier Pie toes the rubber
For Jamestown tonight.
Albert Laboy singles off him
In the top of the first and
Williamsport hustles on to score 3.

She eats nachos and reads
Her book in left field
The picnic area—family designated
Where the hills first spread
Their October shadows.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Baseball: A Haiku

George Cooper

Baseball is a game of inches
My little league coach said.
But what game isn't?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Play's at Home

William Pankonin

This poem is dedicated to my father and coach, my brother and constant friend while moving from base to base, and my wife Charlotte, who said Americans take baseball too seriously.

T-ball, but no T, a pop-up machine.
Spring evenings, the cold warriors come home to haul their sons and daughters to the diamonds.
Blue holds the pop-up machine leash, gives it a squeeze.
Hitting a baseball is swinging a steel pipe into granite.
Batting gloves don’t help.

Fun-Dip stained, thermal underwear beneath the Jersey tucked into jeans, Super Man buckle.
Gives it a ride, pops it up.
Way up, B52 bomber throws a shadow on the park, Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Home team watches from a dugout.

A missile through the gap between the boy at third and the girl at short.
Parents and kids scream, mouths stained and bruised snow cone blue, green, yellow, and red.
Teeth seen through picket fence of sunflower seeds and cigarettes.
More screaming, fighter jet rips a slash in sky’s jersey.

Ball lifted over second, over center.
Cargo plane slides into hanger.
We win the game, the mercy rule.
Plates of hot dogs, Old Dutch chips, grape soda.

Switch hitter, the shift is on.
No more pop-up machine.
Fastballs, curves, change-ups –unhittable.
New base, same ball.
Same game, same mitt, different stance.
New gate, same wave, same long machine gun.
Same long God Damn war.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Last Softball Game in A2

Dan DeVries

for Van Hull, B

This old guy was on the mound.
I was playing center field, I
remember this.

In left was a tall
redhaired dude whose name
I do not remember.

It was also my first
softball game in Ann Arbor.
They never asked me to be

on the team, and I never asked
them either. I don’t remember
any of the rest of this,

it was all
told to me.
I had a wife.

I had a fellowship to a great
university in Amsterdam, a place
of which I still haven’t heard

except in their stories.
And that there are canals there.
The pitcher, what was his name

again, they tell me he used
to be a catcher? He was
wearing the most gawdawful plaid

bermuda shorts.
I went after that softball
because it started from him.

They tell me he recommended
me for that fellowship. I
have no dount that that is

true. I just can’t remember
his name. The other guy,
the left fielder with the red hair

I don’t remember him either although
they tell me he had something
to do with a fellowship I got later
in Houston. I hear

he is chair of a department
somewhere on the Red River
in the heart of middle Amerika.

(San Francisco, 9/22/06)

Friday, September 08, 2006


Franco Pagnucci

Wrigley Field: fall 1949.
Now dead, my immigrant father, who knew
clear pig-gut sausages,
sneaks the unfamiliar reddish tuber
into his coat pocket,
and eats an empty bun
and thanks "this guy" who brought him
to the game and bought him the hot dog.

Later. . .
Even though they were
"The Black Sox"
and they never win,
for me, The White Sox are Nellie Fox
playing Second, getting another hit.

. . . Still . . . Maybe it's 1957,
and I'm sitting in the Cubs' section
of Wrigley with Big Bob Hansen,
cheering the Braves
for whatever reason,
though I'm not from Wisconsin yet,
and I have to watch,
especially my left thigh.
Sometimes Big Bob's claw
comes down palm-hard as a pop-up,
clamps my thigh like a pliers,
and takes my breath away.

But Ernie Banks is up again,
and Brickhouse's voice
rides on the ball in the wind above centerfield
where The Babe's "called shot" went,
and the scoreboard numbers go up,
by hand and the scoreboard fireworks up
under the storm-dark afternoon

of August 1st 2006.
Cubs and Diamondbacks.
Night game. They've added lights, finally,
to accommodate and compete,
and the houses beyond the ivy walls
have blue bleachers
full of fans on the roofs.

For this game I'm two seats away
from another out-of-shape-and too-fat woman
on my right who wears a yellow t shirt
with plunging v-neck,
outlined by white inner, muscle shirt.
Maybe no bra. I don't stare.
I'd have to turn all the way right─
an over-the-wall reach.
Everyone would see. . .

though it's just a game. . .
TV monitors are above us,
right and left.

Though it's just another. . . "Let's go out
to the ball park" and there were five
home runs. no Sammy this year.
The talk is he might be coming back, too.
And this place,
this green field is all made up and pretty,
though July temperatures have been the talk.
All week. A week of it.
And a dry, hot month to boot.

A 102◦ as we drove in,
and past 8:00 p.m. it was still 100◦ plus
in the full stadium under the upper decks,
though the Cubs, too, never win.
Don't tell me
the "Go-Go" Sox finally won.
I've been too long gone from Illinois,
like the Braves from Milwaukee,
where the Brewers disappoint.

And I was drinking from a half bottle
of Sam's over-heated water.
and the woman in yellow to my right
was eating soft serve from a yello cup
she kept stuffed in her cleavage
and kept turning as the side
closest to her must have warmed
between her breasts,

while we watched
because we were hot, mostly
and had parked in a mostly vacant health club lot
from where we'd walked in the scorching city heat
of late afternoon to the Fullerton El
station and ridden an over-packed Red Line
that was late and made us miss half the homers,

and I watched because my middle-aged son,
visiting from PA, and I had driven down
from his much younger sister's in racine
and going past California,
I'd remembered Uncle Gino
who'd lived around
there for years while he cheffed
at the Italian Village on Monroe and Dearborn,

Uncle Gino at 62, sitting retired
and dead on the middle outside cellar-step
of the bungalow in Harwood Hts.
he d moved to from the two-story brick
on California and Monticello where
we'd made so many feasts,
so many holiday meals together,

and I watched because now I needed
to tell my son so he could carry back
these few facts for the story he might tell.
Severe storms had gathered in the northwest,
over Wisconsin,
after the fiery heat,
and were coming down,

and I saw the sky beyond the field darken
and darken
and saw the night lights make the green
field of Wrigley as green as Lambeau's
where I told my son we needed to go
with everyone back
maybe for that final game
maybe with Farve
playing his last,
as the woman on my right
kept coming back to her ice cream.

Franco Pagnucci
Robinson Lake, Barnes, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mama's Pride at Baseball

Ronda Grassi

He is 3 years old.
I pitch, he swings, I duck, beam.
Rippin them out’ the infield.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Baseball Poem

Guy Thorvaldsen

I've been really digging on the poetry so far. Very fun to enter into the wonderfully divergent minds of all these people at the same game . Here's my go at it. I got swept up in the strange world of the umpires.
And now I'm getting swept up in the strange world of blogging. My first!

Are umpires God’s children and, if so, can I have one?

The other night at Wrigley
with the Diamondbacks in town
and the stadium a soup bowl of heat and humidity
the Cubbie’s shortstop smacks a long ball to center,
above the ivy,
and it is momentarily lost
between a fans hand and fence top.
before it drops back on the field like a wounded duck

The batter holds at third,
but leans hungrily towards home
awaiting the umpire’s call
Triple or Home run?
The crowd also leans hungrily,
towards the group of four scholars gathered,
like a small flock of crows at second base.
four men who exist
like drifting shadows during the game,
until we need them,
like gods or priests.

In their conclave,
heads nod and bow to each other as if in prayer.
We observers are irreverent en,
roaring our happy opinions from the stands.
Home RUN! Home run!
Finally, one of the holy men separates from the
Pensive assembly, and with a generous sweep of the hand
become the maitre d’ (pope?) of Wrigley,
ushering the runner home.

We approve, of course, celebrate
the runner’s buoyant trot to the plate.
But one does not, approve, of course.
The Diamondback manager strides out,
Heading off the chief judge in that dirt purgatory
forty-five feet from first and second
We boo.
But are half-hearted.
We understand.
We’ve all stood there before.
Claiming the unclaimable,
begging for another point of view.
Really! the affair meant nothing.
Cancer! There must be some mistake.
Pregnant! But we took precautions.
Arguing vainly with our gods.
Digging in when we should be digging out
but can’t help ourselves.

But on the field we see,
the sage is gracious in his listening.
Bears with the managers ill-fated logic,
the release of suffering,
the brief saving of face.
until the man in black lifts his hand to the field and
sends the plaintiff back to his bench

But what bench do these anonymous judges return to?
To whom do they answer?
Have they a home base
or did they simply arrive on a green, baselined, pasture one day,
keen-eyed virgins without mothers,
cityless strangers, from North Dakota,
Arkansas, Utah… states without a team?

And tell me,
Who has really ever known an umpire?
Or heard of someone who knew one?
Yet they arrive to the ballpark on time,
an impassive sheen
on their wind and sun burnished faces,
Their jaws more squared-off
than the Buddha,
less angular than Jesus.
Perhaps stadium-like--contained, broad, and circular.

The face of a stranger who knows a few good things:
Ready to tell us
whether the slap
of ball on leather arrives
a quarter second before—or after-- the dull thud of cleats on canvas.
And if standing behind us, they would also tell us
of the dull reflection in our lover’s eyes.
of the truth that our body can no longer keeps pace with our dreams
that our children have outdistanced us.
And remind us that there is nothing,
no argument, no player, no negotiated contract, no second chance,
that can rescue us once a decision is true,
once the synaptic flow from umpire’s ear has traveled
to arm muscles.
to steady hands and shoulders which fly open
like the wing of ducks under fire.
And arms rise with either an imperceptible lift of the elbows
To the right forearm, levering a thumb towards the beyond
Or arms descending
to a palms down,
smoothing of the air

and the bodhisatva’s
Mouth opens,
tongue drops,
or rises,
releasing one of two holy sounds
that only the willing can hear.



Out .

Saturday, August 26, 2006

2 poems

Dear baseball fans,
While on vacation these last two weeks, I had a great time pounding out some baseball poetry. Here are the two I had the most fun with. I'd love to hear reactions and/or suggestions.

The Fiction Writer Remembers Tommy Veryzer
Andrew McCuaig

In ten minutes, I could find more facts than I ever wanted
To know: His batting average, on-base percentage,
Birthday, height. Instead, I remember a rather short,
Slender, wiry boy-man, sandy-haired and freckled,
Not a power hitter, not much of a hitter at all,
But a sure-handed shortstop—or was it second base?
He spanned the years of my early adolescence,
Somewhere there in the mid-seventies, bridging
The gap between Eddie Brinkman and Alan Trammell.

So what a surprise to learn, thirty years later, that
Tommy Veryzer grew up with a friend of mine
On Long Island, played every sport well, and had
A very fine sister, also with freckles. Soccer was
His best sport, but he was quite a point guard, too.
His long two-pointer at the buzzer won the 1970
Long Island Championship—or so I imagine.

Champ Summers was another icon. Both names made up.
A loner in the clubhouse. An itinerant outfielder. The son
Of a Polish immigrant with an unpronounceable name.
Champ himself with just a trace of accent, and therefore
Mercilessly picked on in the schoolyards of Baltimore
Until one day he stood up and knocked a boy down
In the dirt. Then another, and another. The Champ.

All made up, I admit. But here’s something mostly true:
That night game I dragged my parents to the summer after
Seventh grade, when Champ delivered a clutch two-run single
In the bottom of the eighth to win the game. The Tigers
Holding their own in fourth place, we all scrambled
Raucously down the echoey ramps as if we had won
The pennant. Later, sitting hot and spent by his locker—
Alone even then—Champ’s wife called to say she
Was leaving him. The heavy black telephone stuck
To his sweaty ear. A man’s voice in the background. . . .
No, she hadn’t listened to the game; had never liked baseball
At all, only those arms of his.

The next morning I sat in our back screened-in porch
And pounded out my report of the game on my
Mother’s skyblue power typewriter, which jiggled
My orange juice each time I hit return. That afternoon,
I sold my story to the Detroit Free Press—or so I wished.

That these men were real—are still real, still alive,
As far as I know—I do not dispute. But, forgive me,
I prefer the hollow shell of memory—a voice here, an image
There—to dream myself into.

13 Ways of Watching a Cubs Game
Andrew McCuaig

1. It’s not about the game, but the view,
The context, the surroundings. Without the endless
Parade of people trotting up and down the aisle, blocking
Our sight, distracting us, there’d be little to take in.

2. There are four-hundred and thirty-nine Cubs styles
To choose from. But what mystifies me is the blue Cubby Bear,
Declawed, harmless, waiting patiently.

3. When the ball is hit hard, there is a slight delay
Before its crack is heard; everyone—it never fails—ooohs
In hardwired hope, which changes to a louder yell
If it’s hit out, or, far more often, a groan as the outfielder circles
Casually under and makes the out.

4. I feel sorry for the Cotton Candy boys, so much
Lower than the Beer Men or even the Peanut Guys.
With the heat index at 110 (night game, at that!) who
But a four-year old would want cotton candy? Plus,
There’s no way of shouting “Cotton Candy” in a cool way.

5. Despite our relatively good seats, the view is better
On the monitor above my head, twenty feet away. Watch
The field, miss the replay.

6. Are the hot dog buns a mass of wet mush
Only because it’s so hot, or are they always like that?
By the seventh inning, the infield dirt has not yet dried:
Humidity, or night game?

7. Nothing, not even Juan Pierre’s baserunning, is nicer
Than the sleek beauty of a woman’s white tanktop.
I like that one, and that one, and that one. . . .

8. I have never before sat in my own sweat-puddle, not
At a ball game, or anywhere. No, it’s not raining, nor is it better
If I don’t move.

9. What’s the score? What’s the count? Who’s even
Pitching? What inning are we in anyhow? Is that real wool
They’re wearing? Someone, somewhere, is watching this
Game in air conditioning, on a comfortable chair, with a beer
That costs less than six bucks.

10. When Dusty Baker comes out to pull his pitcher,
He carelessly steps on the first-base line. Meanwhile,
Somewhere in Florida, Sparky Anderson jerks awake.

11. A three-dollar water is not too expensive tonight. I like sitting,
As I am, on the end of my row so I can shamelessly grope each
Cold bottle before I pass it on.

12. It’s Seventies Night at Wrigley Field. David Cassidy
Sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with his son,
Who’s sixteen. The harmony’s perfect, and I’m filled with a newfound
Respect, which I keep to myself.

13. Before the ninth, the game safely ours, I climb
The ramp facing Addison, and join two women, one old, one young,
Eyes closed, taking in the best breeze the stadium has to offer. I stand
Between them, as if sharing the same blow drier, and look out over the city—
The bars and billboards, church steeples and water towers—
And remember that the Tigers are winning, too, and it means
So much more.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ethics & Blades

Dan DeVries

Although not a blade freak
I do subscribe to the gospel
according to Corb.

“Always keep an edge
on your knife, son.”
(I’m not Corb’s son.)

I’m not his father either.
His father was a bronc rider.
His mother was

a goat roper
and Corb’s the best country-punk
rocker in North America

I don’t ride broncs. Occasionally I eat goat.
About as often, I ride horseshit.
It stinks. There are

ethical issues, like when
you put a Gerber Famous Blade
in your dop kit in the Super 8

out by O’Hare
at the end of
a very hot trip

and then can’t find it
for two weeks and send
United Air a very polite email

about how they lost your
favorite knife and they (equally politely)
send you a $100 discount on your next trip

in the friendly skies,
and so you go and
search the ENTIRE internet

for the knife you lost
and it’s not made
anymore, but it’s really the one you want

and so you spend some more
time and money online
and because you don’t know

exactly how long an inch is
you do find something that
looks like the knife you lost

and you buy it, and it’s beautiful
except about one third the size
of the one you had in mind.

AND THEN, the lost is found.
But the edge is dull, and
you get to work with that stone

and although you should be listening to Corb sing
about keeping a sharp edge,
being one of very stony brain

you are instead
searching Wikipedia and all manner
of blade-related sites

for the knife you really want
(except with a blade you
will this time keep

an edge on) and watch
the White Sox beating
the Tigers, on ESPN2,

all the while pondering
whether it would be ethical
to use that $100 certificate

on your next trip
to Chicago, or perhaps
to Michigan, for the American League
Division Series.

(San Francisco, 8/23/06)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Dan DeVries

For Chris, in real life
Frank, in imagination, and
Ted, in memory


Something I always feel
at a baseball game.
How much I love the scene
& how little I love “America.”

If only they played ball
in England
where they play cricket.
In its own way

nearly as good. And Canada
where they play ball.
Jackie Robinson auditioned
in Montreal, where they

don’t anymore, at least not
in that silly indoor place
by the great botanic garden
. . .

Think about it. Art Turf
across the busy street
from nature’s own art
where it gets a little help

from hardworking locals
(docents & presumably legal
gardeners) a great place
honestly & the best

North American beer grows
there too.
Check it out at
strong lager, Raftman,

With a coral sheen that is slightly robust
and combines the character of whisky malt.
Brewed to commemorate the legendary courage
of the forest workers and share their

Joie de vivre with a beer and a whisky.
Very cool, although it doesn’t have to be
served that way. Big tough redhead
French Canadian logroller piking river-borne timber

on the label. You want
myth and legend, well, I tried
to write a poem about Tiger Stadium.
Got two four line stanzas

into the thing & it turned into
a diatribe about Nixon.
The professor hated it
even though I meant

every word, and turned out to be
right. Maybe that’s why
when I think about writing about
baseball, now,

I think of George W. Bush.
The best thing I saw
in Montreal’s botanic garden was
the First Nation recreation

of what that place
may have been, then,
In those days . . .


I played sick the day
JFK threw out the first pitch
in the stadium now named
after his brother where

the Nats play, for now,
so I could watch my beloved
Tigers on opening day in 1962.
In the same new house later

That year I was baking
for the first time . . .
Angelfood cake . . . Angel
Bo Belinsky

Threw his 1st start no-
hitter. That same year
I heard the news that
Marilyn Monroe died.

(“I am truly horribly upset because Marilyn
Monroe died”) while I baked that cake
Angel Angel Angel & it wasn’t that long
afterward that JFK was dead too.

Dog fuck America
land that I loathe.
Irving Berlin wrote
something like that

Moloch Moloch Moloch
Alan Ginsberg wrote
exactly that. Those aren’t the teachings
of a man of god, Eliza G. sang that

in Golden Gate Park, & elsewhere.
I sit here in North America, a place
I love for 3 reasons.
1. Itself, the look of the place;

2. Baseball, for all the obvious reasons;
& there is a third, but
I forget it now, I suppose it
must have been

The promise of the place
furiously betrayed by lies.
So I don’t stand for the blood-spattered banner,
wish to sing O Canada

With pure patriot love
in all my heart commanded.
Fuck Jesus! said Ted (albeit in jest)
but Ted is dead (July 4, 1983).

True patriot he, true
son of Whitman
that “incredible queer”
(per Ted).

Almost wish there were
a GOD who
would dispense richly
deserved damnation

As though that weren’t
aught but a richly
merited fantasy . . .
America . . .

When will you cease
your never-ending
war with the flesh
& my soul?

& when will you finally,
as the good Doc.
Williams said, realize there are
no ideas but in things?


The trip begins
with a Beefeater
at Jack’s Bistro.
The security level

is Marsec 1
(whatever that means).
The Peralta approacheth
the dock. The cormorant

on the buoy by the Potomoac
fleeth not. Departing
passengers look
anything but terrified.

Boy Scouts go by.
Language is spoken.
There is the possibility
of rough water says the Speaker.

Particularly for the Giants
who have lost 7 in a row.
Pelicans to Starboard
entering the Bay.

Big old ugly barge
straight ahead
although not THAT straight ahead
& then THE Bay Bridge

easily got under & then the Capital
of Ecotopia & the ballpark (on its third phone company name
nameless here, for obvious reasons
of good taste) at Port.

The ferry approacheth its
target wharf, framed
by one tower named
either after a carpet company

or 19th Century criminal &
the other named after
a TRUE corporate criminal
(i.e. COIT & Transamerica).

No City
without its verily awful bloodlines,
as Dr. Thompson might insinuate.
Hit the dock, walk between

two great pop artifacts
Oldenberg’s bow & arrow
(I left my heart, get it?) & the
Hills Bros Arab & on to the Embarcadero.

Commencing a stately stroll, even
for one spiritually stateless
except perhaps in state of mind.
O Canada, O Canada

Which won’t get sung tonite.
Past godawful statuary
“Passage” courtesy of
Black Rock Art Foundation.

Talk about black art!
Well, after all, it is
Organ Donor Night at the “old” ballpark
& one is stupidly tempted

To make wishlists:
For Bush a healthy mind.
For Cheney a soul.
For Leezy a conscience, but

fantasy is fruitless.
They ain’t got ‘em
& they ain’t going to.
Bill Clinton an organ

to go with his sax? Aw c’mon
Cheap Cheap Cheap
Cheep Cheep Cheep, and the anthem
is actually beautifully

sung, but who
can stand for it
or the republic
for which it pretends to stand?

(O Canada. O Canada.)
Followed by recorded Bowie
doing Young Americans.
As Carl once said

I can’t believe I live
on this planet!
but according to various solipsists I
sort of have to accept that I do.

I do. I do. Three pressing
questions at 7:25 PM.
Can the Cubs hold a 9-3 lead
in the 9th at Wrigley.

Can the Tigers hold a 10-4 lead
in the 9th at St. Pete?
Can the Giants ever win again.
Probably yes, to all 3

Not that any of it will do any
good for the planet’s sufferers
aside from Cub, Tiger, & Giant fans
who can’t be suffering all

that much because they still
have time for baseball
and don’t even have to dodge bombs
between innings. Tiger fans

being the least easily pardoned because
if they don’t enjoy
this season their suffering
be self-inflicted.

At the phone park, bluebirds sweep
the view deck. Sadly,
they are not bluebirds
of happiness.


(Interesting, but unpoetic sidebar:
On the day Fidel’s provisional
stepaside becomes public in the USA
Washington pitcher is

Cuban fink and ex-Giant
Livian Hernandez & the most-hated
Person in the USA -- besides Fidel – also nameless here,
is NOT in the lineup.)

Through 3 & ½ innings none of this has helped the Giants
much. They play old, old, old
old as Fidel, who should have died
hereafter, but hasn’t, weird JFK-

linked schemes notwithstanding.
Foul balls still go foul.
Bad baserunning turns into outs, &
“our” lads do plenty of it.

Baseball being as merciless as
the American Way
which must be why it remains
the National Game.

So here I am, watching
the Washington Nationals, no relation
to Senators of either stripe, & managed
by Frank Robinson, the best player I ever saw.

I couldn’t say enough good things
about him, wearing my baseball cap,
except this, to quote Ted one last time.
“He will always be perfectly Frank.”

Leave game at 9:25
presence as
insignificant as it is
in the real world &

Besides, taping it at home
where warm bed &
bedfellow & whisky whisky
my old friend

await. Good night Mrs. De Vries
all of you (save one who knows who she is
& that isn’t her name anyway)
wherever you are, I just want

to make it clear I’m not
one of yours
whatever they or you say
& have not been
for a long time.

Line Score R H E Pitchers HR
WA 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 4 6 0 L Hernandez 7 (W 9-8), Bowie .2, Rauch .1, Cordero 1 (S 19) none

SF 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 0 Cain 7 (L 7-8), Chulk .2, Stanton .1, Benitez 1 none

San Francisco, Cobmoosa Shores, MI, 5/18 – 8/9, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bios of Author/Fans

These are what I have received from folks as of August 10 or so. Feel free to edit yours, post yours (new one) as a comment,whatever. There is a place to creat profiles on the blog, but these are better, more interesting, more informative ways to get to know each other, I think. I changed a couple around, added a couple things to those I received, so maybe chack out what you think you sent. .


My name is David Apol. I hate organized baseball and organized religion for
the same reason.

I am trying to square a few tangents: The only Cub's fan I remember was
this large short man that drove his car into a large tree one morning on his way
to work leaving his kids and wife to raise themselves. Maybe its time to see
what he saw.

I recall playing baseball in the sandlot behind my house with kids from the
neighborhood. The only great part of baseball is batting. The rest of time was
waiting to bat. I decided that I would only bat in life, kind of like a DH.

We lacked a grounds crew and so the bases grew deeper and deeper over the
years until the catcher would only see the heads of the runners. I hated playing
shortstop when the ball fell into the chasm and then caromed off my face.
Shortly after that I learned the word "flinch."

Claim to fame: I once sang duets with David Schaafsma to chronic schizophrenics.

By day I am a developer of land and businesses and at night I sleep.

Vicki Chou, from Oak Park, is UIC’s Dean of the College of Education. Her relationship to
Baseball is 3 daughters (pitcher, 1st base, catcher) who played hundreds of games. Poetry-ha! But she is also a world renowned teacher educator with an emphasis on issues of social justice. She has secured numerous grants to support the preparation and professional development of excellent teachers for students in Chicago’s neighborhood schools that have been historically under-served.

My name is George Cooper. I live in Ann Arbor, MI where I am a lecturer in english at UM,
and for the most part teach freshman composition. My relationship with baseball began with being
bored playing little league baseball for the Bisons, right field, where the leather smell of my baseball glove appealed to me more than any other aspect of the game--except maybe for the soda pop and licorice. My sense of the game has improved since that time, but I still like the smell of leather as much as
anything. My relationship with poetry is in some ways similar. Whenever I begin reading a new poet, I say, this is crap. I could write this. And then after a bit, there is a poem in the selection that makes me rethink my earlier aversion, and then I try to write poem and realize that I have very little clue. I like the idea of trying to bring together these two aspects of my ineptitude.

Todd DeStigter. of Chicago, IL, is Dave Schaafsma's former high school student (Unity Christian High in Hudsonville, MI) and now his English Education colleague at UIC. Todd teaches methods of teaching English courses and grad seminars on literacy and democracy and is the author of Citizen Teacher: The Forgotten Students of Addison High (NCTE, 2000). He's an enthusiastic Cubs fan, though his deepest loyalties remain with the Detroit Tigers, the "home team" of his misspent youth.

Dan De Vries is a sometime poet who lives in San Francisco. His parents did not believe in ball games, and it was only when the family moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan after a strange hiatus in Denver that his sixth grade teacher got him interested in the Detroit Tigers. He learned to watch baseball at Tiger Stadium, and is now a nominal Giants fan, but will watch pretty much any game anywhere, and often does. Despite a brain addled by many years of recreational drug use, he vividly recalls baseball games in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, San Francisco, San Jose, Modesto, Oakland, Eugene, Portland, Seattle, New York, Boston, Cleveland, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Denver, Nashville, and Idaho Falls, as well as test cricket matches in Leeds and London. In 1979, he returned to Michigan from a period of wandering out west to attend the University in Ann Arbor, and won a Hopwood award in short fiction the year Reagan was made President. He believed that award meant something, and wrote two novels and a collection of stories, none of which were ever published. He thinks that the designated hitter is a minor but emblematic indicator of a decline in values in North America. He works in a nonprofit law office in Oakland, and has communist leanings.

Corey Dolgon, 44, of Milton, Massachusetts. Sociologist, Socialist, long-time Red Sox fan (not just because of the color of the socks) and even longer Yankee hater. With the exception of Neoconservative death-mongerers, Yankees are the only other humans I hate. I played high school baseball and moved to softball in graduate school and post-knee surgeries. The dream of playing third base is long gone, but I now play fantasy baseball and do what most middle-aged, middle class American men do, I dream of owning things I can no longer participate in. Corey is the author of The End Of The Hamptons: Scenes From The Class Struggle In America's Paradise (New York University Press, 2005).

Hi, my name is Tommy Haffner, and I am a huge White Sox fan and cub hater*. I love the Sox because I am from the South Side of Chicago (no, not a suburb) and because they are really more of a neighborhood team than a city team. Like heavy metal, pro wrestling and other white trash (shanty Irish in my part of town) culture, the Sox were never "in"—until last year, which was just so unbelievable. You can't understand how other the feeling was when the Sox won the pennant, nevermind the World Series. As far as South Siders who are cub fans, I have a theory, similar to Labov's theory of why some Martha's Vineyard natives retain their accent and others don't. Here goes: South Siders who are cub fans aren't happy with their class status, and they wish to improve it. One way to improve their standing is to root for the team on the wealthier North Side. Thus they gain the prestige of being a cub fan. Alternately, they may be rebelling against their fathers.

My baseball career ended at age 13. I was pitching in the playoffs and just could not resist hitting my best friend. My dad was the coach and he went Bad News Bears on me. He sent me out to left field, where I made an error that cost us the game. I never played again--I had to start caddying during the summer, anyway--but I was relieved when, some twenty years later, a therapist attributed my error not to a lack of skill but to rebellion against my father. As far as poetry goes, I used to write poetry every day. That was my thing. Unfortunately, a teacher at U of I Urbana told me I had talent, and that ended that.
*"hate" is an ugly word. But you get the idea.

My name is Dan Jacques. I played 3rd base and batted clean up. I grew up in New Jersey as a Yankee fan. My best friend lived 2 houses away and his Dad was the Athletic Director of our town. As such he always got “free” seasons tickets to see the Yankees and I always tagged along. I was 7 years old when Marris and Mantle were slugging it out for the home run title in 1961. From then on I was hooked on baseball and the Yankees. Later I got season tickets of my own and enjoyed the miracle season of the 14 game come back. I mourned the loss of Thurman Munson. I loved and hated Rickie Henderson, Billie Martin and George Steinbrenner. I enjoyed the 112 game winning season. I enjoyed David Wells’ and David Cone’s perfect games. I loved to watch Reggie Jackson’s awesome power and outstanding October performances. My favorite Yankee heroes of today are Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Joe Torre. My all time Yankee hero is Lou Gehrig even though he was a bit before my time. His character, work ethic, performance and humility set the standard for Yankee greatness. I love baseball and have a son who does too. It’s so much more than just a game.

Jeff Kunkle: It’s my grandfather’s fault, really. I could have been a White Sox fan or a Cardinals fan, and be perfectly content, expecting victory whenever I watched a baseball game, and getting it a good part of the time. Or a Yankees fan. My mom was, for a time. There are photos of her as a kid, in her best tomboy regalia, running around with a baroque NY emblazoned on her cap. I could easily be a Yankee fan, smug and condescending, one of the fat cats of baseball fandom.
But no, my grandpa had to instead take me to games at Wrigley Field, infusing in me an appreciation of Cubbie lore, buying my allegiance with hot dogs and ice cream cups and T-Shirts, chaining my heart to a perpetually sinking ship. Our visits to Wrigley began before I was old enough to remember them, so I don’t have a conscious recollection of that moment of awe people get when they first emerge from the subterranean gloom of Wrigley’s bowels into the magical sunlight illuminating the field, the scoreboard, and all that ivy. Instead, Wrigley was just this place I was taken, like church, where the ushers wore Andy Frain uniforms and the organ played a more irreverent and jaunty set of hymns.
My grandfather grew up in Chicago, a poor kid who couldn’t afford a ticket to the game. Instead of paying his way in to Wrigley, he’d line up on Clark Street with ten or twelve of his comrades, and they’d storm the gates all at once, hurtling the turnstiles and deking the ticket takers. Some of the kids would get caught, thumped around a bit and thrown out on their asses, but the rest would be in, able to see the likes of Stan Hack, Kiki Cuyler, Charlie Root, and Hack Wilson strut their stuff. It was Hack Wilson who was my grandfather’s favorite. He must have liked their shared histories (both were born into blue-collar Pennsylvania families) and their shared physiognomies (both were short, scrappy guys, although Hack was much thicker than my grandfather). They both drank a lot, too, although my grandfather, unlike Hack Wilson, was able to pull out of that tailspin before it ruined him.
I grew up hearing about these players, and more—Carl Hubble, Rogers Hornsby, Jimmy Foxx—their names carrying the resonance of mythology, and spent my childhood rooting for other, mostly lesser, deities: Jody Davis, Greg Maddux, Keith Moreland, Mark Grace, Sammy Sosa, and, most of all, Ryne Sandberg, after whom my wife, despite my pleading, wouldn’t allow me to name my son. My brother and I trade daily updates and trivia and cries of anguish, and my mom, long since recovered from her brief dalliance with the Yankees, acts, in her father’s stead, as the family’s baseball sage, offering calming bits of wisdom, patience and resignation. Like adolescent romances, the Cubs’ flirtations with victory and redemption—1984, 2003—contained for me equal parts sweetness, excitement, and crushing disappointment. My three-year-old daughter spontaneously hollers “Go Cubbies!” and “Cardinals stink!” in public places, and I still get chills when I’m holding my son and radio announcer Pat Hughes says with schoolboy enthusiasm, no matter how dire the season record, “Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!”
I also teach high school English, go to school at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, play bass in a bluegrass band and, when I get the chance, write. These are all pursuits more fulfilling, but less romantic, than my affair with baseball.

Andrew McCuaig performed the National Anthem (along with 224 other Michigan Marching Band musician-geeks) before the fifth game of the 1984 World Series. As luck would have it, the Tigers clinched the series that night, beating the Padres on the heroics of Kirk Gibson's two homers and Willie Hernandez's save. After the game, the Detroit faithful rushed the field and, showing their love for the band, bomboarded them with clumps of torn-up Tiger Stadium outfield turf. Andrew hid one such clump in his band hat and later planted it in his parents' backyard. As if anything else really matters, Andrew is also a fiction writer and high school English teacher in Madison, WI.

Amber McNeil has been hanging out in Oak Park, Illinois for the past 10 years. Amber is currently an indentured servant, er, student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in the Teaching of English for Secondary Education. She is earning her PhD in Parenting on a daily basis, but currently on hiatus as Dean Gilliland soaks up the sun and gets spoiled rotten by his grandmother in South Carolina. Amber enjoys writing and Dean (with the incredible arm) enjoys baseball. Dean is a fifth grader at Whittier Elementary in Oak Park. Earlier in July, Dean and his baseball team defended (and won) their championship title for the Oak Park Youth Baseball/Softball League. His mom wrote a short poem about that experience. Enjoy!

Franco Pagnucci, Barnes, Wisconsin, retired English Prof. from University of Wisconsin--Platteville, after 34 years. Never played baseball formally, though did play a great deal of it informally in the park in front of St. Pat's, in St. Charles, Illinois, and in my neighbor's yard, on Second Street, also in St. Charles. I used to be a Sox fan, those days. I've been messing with poetry most of my life, but I don't think I've ever written a baseball poem. [His poetry book titles include Out Harmsen’s Way (Fireweed, 1991), Face the Poem (Bur Oak, 1979, and Ancient Moves (Bur Oak, 1998 and his work has been anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.]

David Schaafsma teaches English Education at The University of Illinois at Chicago. Having played all positions in Little League except catcher (afraid of being hit by the bat), he was a pitcher for his ninth grade softball team at Grand Rapids Ridgeview Junior HS in the spring of 1968, the year Denny McClain and Mickey Lolich led the Detroit Tigers to victory in the World Series. He was awarded the starting position at Ridgeview after coming in out of the bullpen one glorious game during the third inning with his team down 14-13. He pitched the game out, which his team won 28-27 in seven innings, weathering several thunderous home runs in the process, and he actually won a few games after that, though he was also known as the slowest pitcher in the league. He later played on Corey Dolgon and Tom Philion’s Ann Arbor Softball League team in the late eighties.

He thinks of himself as more of a fiction writer than a poet, since he has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on short fiction, though he has primarily published in the field of English Education, including Eating on the Street: Teaching English in a Multicultural Society (University of Pittsburgh, 1993). He has published a very few poems in his lifetime, but one of those is anthologized in Bowling Poems (Michael Barrett, ed., 1992), which was one result of a bunch of writers going bowling and writing about the experience in Madison, which was the inspiration for this project.

My name is Tara Schaafsma. I live in Oak Park, Illinois. I am a stay-at-home-mom for my two boys,
Harry and Hank. My career is as an electrician. I also have a BA in anthropology and an MA in English, so I can fall back on the multitudes of jobs in those fields when electrical work is scarce.

My first experience with baseball was going to a Milwaukee Brewers game with my grandparents when I
was about eight. The best thing about it was the guy sliding down a slide into the vat of beer when a home
run was hit. If they don’t have that feature at Wrigley, I’ll be really disappointed. I also remember the birds deciding to clean out their nests during the game. We had to buy hats.

I haven’t followed a lot of baseball, but I do go to a game here and there. I’ve been to see the Quad
City River Bandits, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox.

I’ve written some poetry, having an MA in English (Creative Writing) and all. Nothing about sports, though, so this will be a first. Most of my writing efforts focus on drafting children’s science fiction novels for girls.

It's June, 1962, the Polo grounds. The Giants are in town for play the Mets. My first major league game. The field the most perfect green I've ever witnessed, before or after that time. My dad, my brothers, and I
watch Juan Marichal kick his leg towards the sun and take down battter after batter. Willie Mays raps a homer to dead centerfield and tips his hat to the crowd. McCovey at first, scooping up anything thrown his
way. Cepeda in rightfield--grace personified. The Alou brothers--Mattie, Felipe, Jesus--were all over; all good. And I was hooked--a Giants fan ever since.

Me? Guy Thorvaldsen (Thorvaldsen translated, means Son of Thunderwood). But that only applies to my carpentry skills, not my baseball prowess. Though I did make the all-star team in little league--a second baseman with quick feet and a weak arm. My only game at Wrigley, I sat in the right field seats and my girlfriend started yelling at the fans who were terrorizing the Giants right fielder. I barely got out alive (luckily, the Cubbies won). I write a fair amount, often about carpenters and Norwegians, many of whom are missing some fingers or other bits of themselves.

Steve Tozer's bio: I retired from organized baseball in 1962 at the age of 12 and from regular poetry writing 30 years later. My last (OK, only) published poem was about boomerang throwing in central
Illinois cornfields. Currently I am a professor of Educational Policy at UIC and reside in Oak Park.

Hello, my name is Todd Wolbers, and (sigh) I am a constantly recovering Cubs fan. . . a disenchanted, stunned, and lost Cubs fan. Born in 1967, I was first introduced to the Cubs at age 2, the year the Miracle Mets left them in the dust of a slow-motion, home run trot. I've read about the many historical, season-ending meltdowns, the decades-long (almost a century) drought, the goat, Merkel's boneheaded play, and so on. My childhood heroes were Dave Kingman, Ivan DeJesus, Jose Cardinal, Jack Brickhouse, the slurring Harry Caray, and, yes, Bill Buckner before he moved on to the BoSox and into the Baseball Hall of Infamy. Having lived through the manic-depressing seasons of 1984, 1989, and 1998, I am finally taking medication because of 2003.

After meeting my future wife at Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa) where we were both English majors, we eventually decided on making our home in Oshkosh, WI. We have two cats and two kids (in that order), and we're all surrounded by Brewer fans that never let me hear the end of this horrible season. I take cover behind the comforting clichés: "It's still early, though" and "Anything can happen". My wife jokes that someday, if/when the Cubs finally make it to the World Series, I'll need our kids either to wheel me or cart my ashes to Wrigley Field if I want to be there on that Big Day. Whether or not under my own power, though, I still believe, we all still believe that someday we'll waltz with our Cubbies in the Big Dance. Someday. Maybe next year.