Designated HitterOctober 19, 2006
Two Baseball Poems
By Glenn Stout

(for Chris Tillman)

I pitch and then
your memory rises high above the house to bounce
upon the roof, careen across the shingles
and then begin to roll back down to earth.
I dash beyond the porch
on backyard, left field grass to warning track
beneath the eaves and overhang
calculating hit to carom to catch
last moment stride to blind belief
see it all bounce off the gutter once
reach up and try to hold it
but it falls beyond my grasp
then lies there still, a ground-rule double.

Your ghost man lopes toward second base
but turns, pulls up then kicks the bag
and stays there. You laugh
and then, too late, I kneel
and grab the ball. It is
empty, white, weighs almost nothing.

One side is cracked, and full of holes.



This slow start this spring
could mean there are holes, dead spots
in the order, weakness
up the middle, and at each corner
Age. Some of us
are in the wrong position
and with each stretch
the muscles pop and tear.
There is no defense
no great depth on which we can depend.
Our speed is suspect
and power, at best, sporadic.
From the cellar the sky is far away
and possibly false, the mound so high
who can help from falling awkward off?
The arms and hands have no control
and the eye wanders, unfocused
anywhere but home.
Each day we greet the earth, but circle
back between the lines
Alone. The night brings
no relief but tomorrow
and the place where we stand
printed on paper
black and white.
Help is at least a year away
and we are closer to hell than that.
We are stepping in for the last time
going out across the fields.
It is a long season
and we are out of our league.
What can we do
but keep playing, playing
look to the sky, to the sun, a white blur
and pray that the rain comes, that summer is wrong?

Among other things, Glenn Stout majored in softball and poetry at Bard College. His poem "Notes Toward an Obituary in the St. Louis Sporting News" was recently published in the inaugural edition of 108 Magazine. He is the author or editor of more than sixty books and lives in Vermont.


Honestly, the first poem is awful. It is pure action, with no genuinely creative imagery and a poor turn. The second poem is better, but still sloppy. It's pretty much a waste of an article. Sorry. I don't know what else to say.

Hey Rich and Glenn. Cool change of pace with the poetry today. You never know what you are going to find on this site. To go from Jeff Albert's swing analysis to poetry is the kind of diversity that makes this site so cool.

The poem on whiffle ball got me thinking about being a kid playing that game almost daily with my brother. We'd use black electrical tape to cover half of the ball, so it would still have "whiffle" but also some ability to move faster and farther. But when we'd inevitably destroy a ball, we'd go to the next best thing--a ball made of tin foil. The only problem there was you'd flatten it with one good swing, so then we'd have to stop the game to re-shape it. Ah, memories.

Sorry, Redders, I guess poetry, like most forms of art, is in the eye of the beholder.

Thanks, Alex. Like you, I played wiffle ball as a kid. As Glenn mentioned, I think all of us had our rolls of tape handy to repair broken balls. We used wiffle balls mostly for pitching and hitting, preferring rubber and tennis balls for throwing against the brick planter or porch or off the rooftop. Dem were the days!


No worries. I respect your desire to mix it up. The site's great and I guess I was hoping for another open-ended chat forum like the A-Rod and wild card posts. Dynamite work and I'll still be reading.


Thanks, Redders. I appreciate the kind comments.

We have another terrific analysis complete with video clips by Jeff Albert tomorrow. This one will feature two of the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball. We will also have World Series coverage over the next week, including a special by Al Doyle on Mickey Lolich (who he has had the fortune of interviewing).

The Open Chat was such a success that it is likely to become a weekly standard, discussing a current event or hot topic. There are more Foto Fridays on the horizon, as well as our ongoing Baseball Editorials, Analysis and Talk (the acronym behind BEAT).

Player profiles, stats, sabermetric studies, prospect rankings, interviews, book reviews, personal remembrances, open chats, photos, guest columns, and an occasional new wrinkle will continue to be the staples that drive Baseball Analysts. A little of this and a little of that, all in the name of examining the past, present, and future in a way that hopefully informs and entertains. I hope we can continue to whet your appetite and make the site one of your daily reads.

"One side is cracked, and full of holes."

It's a poem about Pujols?