Baseball and Writing
(Suggested by post-game broadcasts)
Fanaticism? No. 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? It's a pitcher's battle all the way—a duel— a catcher's, as, with cruel puma paw, Elston Howard lumbers lightly back to plate. (His spring de-winged a bat swing.) They have that killer instinct; yet Elston—whose catching arm has hurt them all with the bat— when questioned, says, unenviously, "I'm very satisfied. We won." Shorn of the batting crown, says, "We"; robbed by a technicality. When three players on a side play three positions and modify conditions, the massive run need not be everything. "Going, going . . . " Is it? Roger Maris has it, running fast. You will never see a finer catch. Well . . . "Mickey, leaping like the devil"—why gild it, although deer sounds better— snares what was speeding towards its treetop nest, one-handing the souvenir-to-be meant to be caught by you or me. Assign Yogi Berra to Cape Canaveral; he could handle any missile. He is no feather. "Strike! . . . Strike two!" Fouled back. A blur. It's gone. You would infer that the bat had eyes. He put the wood to that one. Praised, Skowron says, "Thanks, Mel. I think I helped a little bit." All business, each, and modesty. Blanchard, Richardson, Kubek, Boyer. In that galaxy of nine, say which won the pennant? Each. It was he. Those two magnificent saves from the knee-throws by Boyer, finesses in twos— like Whitey's three kinds of pitch and pre- diagnosis with pick-off psychosis. Pitching is a large subject. Your arm, too true at first, can learn to catch your corners—even trouble Mickey Mantle. ("Grazed a Yankee! My baby pitcher, Montejo!" With some pedagogy, you'll be tough, premature prodigy.) They crowd him and curve him and aim for the knees. Trying indeed! The secret implying: "I can stand here, bat held steady." One may suit him; none has hit him. Imponderables smite him. Muscle kinks, infections, spike wounds require food, rest, respite from ruffians. (Drat it! Celebrity costs privacy!) Cow's milk, "tiger's milk," soy milk, carrot juice, brewer's yeast (high-potency— concentrates presage victory sped by Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez— deadly in a pinch. And "Yes, it's work; I want you to bear down, but enjoy it while you're doing it." Mr. Houk and Mr. Sain, if you have a rummage sale, don't sell Roland Sheldon or Tom Tresh. Studded with stars in belt and crown, the Stadium is an adastrium. O flashing Orion, your stars are muscled like the lion.
From The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore. Copyright © 1961 Marianne Moore, © renewed 1989 by Lawrence E. Brinn and Louise Crane, executors of the Estate of Marianne Moore.
Born in 1887, Marianne Moore wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other Modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise
Date Published: 1961-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/baseball-and-writing