Sunday, March 31, 2013

OPENING DAY!



"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops."

-- Bart Giamatti



All it takes, I know,
Is just that crack,
The crowd's first roar,

To wash away the
pain, gloom, sorrow
of seasons yore.

So, like a little girl,
I gleefully lay my outfit
The night before.
Muggy today, a
pop of the mitt, a whiff of
the grass, swish of the
bat in the April air,
and two little words: 'Play ball! '
Listening on the radio for play-by-play,
I hear, "Welcome to Opening Day".
Despite cold temperatures for today's game,
A sellout crowd has came.
I turn my attention to the bullpen.
The starting pitcher is number 10.
Managers present line-ups
Pitcher throws warm up.
Umpire yells, "Play Ball!"
Fielders heed the call.
Innings one, two and three,
No score too be.
Inning five,
Visitors come alive
Back-to-back singles down the line.
Sacrifice fly - position nine.
No one at fault,
But one run results.
Inning eight,
Still not too late.
The home team takes their swings.
A base hit and stolen base, leadoff would bring.
Will this one get a hit?
No, second base smothers it.
Fly ball and a play at the plate.
A perfect throw ends the eighth.
I review the pitcher's stats,
As the visitors come to bat.
Four straight balls and a walk,
Pitching coach comes out too talk.
A new pitcher trots to the mound.
Three feared sluggers shut down.
Bottom of the ninth,
Climax at its height.
An error on a bad hop.
Line drive over shortstop.
Fans express belief,
Even with the closer now in relief.
Double off the fence.
The crowd is in suspense.
Rounding third, anxiously awaiting the final word.
This is what I heard.
"Here comes the winning run",
Safe! and "That's a winner" 2-1.
Spectators approve with a deafening roar,
Seconds later, fireworks would soar.
Baseball and America's pastime is my reason,
I think I'll go to another game this season.
--Don Angel

Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That's baseball. And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his 714 home runs.

There's a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh forty-six years ago. That's baseball. So is the scout reporting that a sixteen year old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming Walter Johnson. Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another.

Baseball is a rookie. His experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It's a veteran too, a tired old man of thirty-five hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September. Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an over aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

Baseball just a game as simple as a ball and bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.

Why the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World's Series catch. And then dashing off to play stick ball in the street with his teenage pals. That's baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying., "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, "Down in Front", Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and the Star Spangled Banner.

Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball! Thank you.

-- Ernie Harwell

Let me show you a land
the greatest of all
with borders that stretch
from the spring to the fall

Emerald fields plush with diamonds
and pearls gleaming white
with meatballs becoming taters
soaring into the night

A land of hot corners
where hoses throw heat
into your kitchen
where there's plenty to eat.

There's pickles, there's pepper
there's peas, and there's cheese
And shoestrings making catches
with the greatest of ease

Many eye-pleasing sights
also found on display
An ace that throws dueces,
a tailor-made double play

Ducks on a pond
wait for springing line drives
to hitch a ride home
on pop-ups and slides

This land welcomes all
to dream and to play
This land is Baseball,
It's Opening Day.

The ball is pitched
And there you are ...