Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Old Brooklyn Poem

I came across this poem while doing some brief research on an eBay item I posted about a few days ago. I came across a Jake Pitler photo that had me wondering who he was. I came to find out he was an old Brooklyn manager and was a bit of a father figure to young Dodger players on their way up. Better yet, he was even spoken about in prose in Marianne Moore's poem celebrating the 1955 Brooklyn Dodger World Series win. This is a poem I had never come across before, so I figured it would only be proper to share this with all of you. Apparently, it was very popular back in the day. From SI. BTW, here is a little known fact about Ms. Moore. She was a teacher at the Carlisle Indian School when Olympian Jim Thorpe was a student. Check out another poem of hers called "Baseball and Writing."
Hometown Piece for Messrs. Alston and Reese

"Millennium," yes; "pandemonium"!
Roy Campanella leaps high. Dodgerdom

crowned, had Johnny Podres on the mound.
Buzzie Bavasi and the Press gave ground;

the team slapped, mauled, and asked the Yankees' match,
"How did you feel when Sandy Amoros made the catch?"

"I said to myself"—pitcher for all innings—
"as I walked back to the mound I said, 'Everything's

getting better and better.' " (Zest, they've zest.
" 'Hope springs eternal in the Brooklyn breast.' "

And would the Dodger Band in 8, row 1, relax
if they saw the collector of income tax?

Ready with a tune if that should occur:
"Why Not Take All of Me—All of Me, Sir?")

Another series. Round-tripper Duke at bat,
"Four hundred feet from home-plate"; more like that.

A neat bunt, please; a cloud-breaker, a drive
like Jim Gilliam's great big one. Hope's alive.

Homered, flied out, fouled? Our "stylish stout"
so nimble Campanella will have him out.

A-squat in double-headers four hundred times a day,
he says that in a measure the pleasure is the pay:

catcher to pitcher, a nice easy throw
almost as if he'd just told it to go.

Willy Mays should be a Dodger. He should—
a lad for Roger Craig and Clem Labine to elude;

but you have an omen, pennant-winning Peewee,
on which we are looking superstitiously.

Ralph Branca has Preacher Roe's number; recall?
and there's Don Bessent; he can really fire the ball.

as for Gil Hodges, in custody of first—
"He'll do it by himself." Now a specialist versed

in an extension reach far into the box seats—
he lengthens up, he leans, and gloving the ball defeats

expectation by a whisker. The modest star,
irked by one misplay, is no hero by a hair;

in a strikeout slaughter when what could matter more,
he lines a homer to the signboard and has changed the score.

Then for his nineteenth season, a home run—
with four of six runs batted in—Carl Furillo's the big gun;

almost dehorned the foe—has fans dancing in delight.
Jake Pitler and his Playground "get a Night"—

Jake, that hearty man, made heartier by a harrier
who can bat as well as field—Don Demeter.

Shutting them out for nine innings—a hitter too—
Carl Erskine leaves Cimoli nothing to do.

Take off the goat-horns, Dodgers, that egret
which two very fine base-stealers can offset.

You've got plenty: Jackie Robinson
and Campy and big Newk, and Dodgerdom again
watching everything you do. You won last year.

Come on.

- © Marianne Moore, 1956

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