by Cantinker Moss
Originally penned in 1999, this poem has more to do with what happens off the diamond. Though inspired by the Baseball Playoffs, (Go Sox!) it is intended to be a metaphor for something more universal.
Casey was at the bat,
And he didn’t strike out.
Now let me tell you something about baseball
And the ones who play the game.
There is the pitcher:
Tall, rangy, poised.
The golden boy.
He steps out of the dugout
And walks to the mound.
His is the arm that launched the season.
His is the arm we talk about all winter.
Movement, speed, location,
Heat, curve, change.
You wonder and adore.
He is the king of the hill.
He throws the ball.
But what if it is hit?
There is the infielder.
First base, second, short, the hot corner.
‘Round the horn.
His glove is his partner.
A secret solution.
The enemy of the bat.
The siren call of every hit ball.
“Come to me…come to me…”
And then like a cat,
Six, four, three,
And that’s that!
Two outs, as a matter of fact.
He fields the ball.
But what if it goes through?
There is the outfielder.
(No, actually there are three of them.)
Maybe that’s why young boys want to be one.
Because they need so many of them.
So many of them.
So many names.
Names that you and I remember:
Joltin’ Joe and the Mick,
Yaz and the Kid,
Tris and Say Hey,
Hammerin’ Hank and the Babe.
But logically speaking,
And due-respect keeping,
If the pitcher did his job,
And the infielder his,
Would there ever need to be
An outfielder or three?
He catches the ball.
But what if it falls?
And then there is the catcher:
The player behind the plate.
They say he sees the whole game,
Probably the first to know its fate.
His ears hear the umpire’s “Ball!” and “Strike!”
But he alone may know whether they were right.
And slammed foul balls to the mask.
And foul balls run out to the back!
His body twisted backward on the dugout rail,
Or headfirst into the bat rack.
Those passed balls that just might have been wild pitches.
And yes, he feels the pitcher’s pain!
But the pitcher never comes to him.
But he goes out again and again and again.
And his knees are shot,
But he still “runs ’em out.”
And catchers become managers,
And some other players, millionaires no doubt.
But let me tell you something,
And may humankind know it well,
From the catcher’s mitt to the family hearth
As far as we are all concerned,
What really matters
Is what happens at home.