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Baseball Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
  2. The Slugger's Farewell to His War Club by C.P. McDonald
  3. To Timothy H. Murnane by Ralph E. McMillin
  4. Looking Backward and Forward by Ralph E. McMillin
  5. Play the Game by Edgar A. Guest

  1. Casey at the Bat

    by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888.

    The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
    The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
    And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
    A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that—
    We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

    But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
    And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
    So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
    For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

    But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
    There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

    Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

    There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
    There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
    And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

    Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
    Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
    Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
    Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

    And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
    And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
    Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
    “That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

    From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
    Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
    “Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
    And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

    With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
    He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
    He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
    But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

    “Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
    But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
    They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
    And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

    The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
    He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
    And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
    And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
    But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

  2. The Slugger's Farewell to His War Club

    by C.P. McDonald

    Farewell, good old pal of the national pastime,
    From now on we travel our separate ways;
    We've been on the field hand in hand for the last time
    And won our last volley of cheers and of praise.
    The ties that have bound us together are severed,
    Who knows what the Fates for the future portend?
    At all times to do our best we have endeavored,
    We've grown old together, and now comes the end.

    How happy we were and how sad is the story
    That brings our companionship now to a close!
    How faithfully you have worked, winning a glory
    For one who henceforth as a has-been must pose!
    From minor to major, then back to the minor,
    And finally out altogether, you've stuck.
    Responding to many a safety and liner
    Until—well, I grew as slow as a truck.

    And all the old friends that we laughed with and chaffed with
    Have journeyed before us—some here and some there;
    And all the staunch rooters we loved and went daft with
    Whenever we boosted a pitcher in air;
    And all the great games we have pickled and salted
    Have long been forgotten as feats of a day,
    And though we attained a place truly exalted,
    Old age came along and has stowed us away.

    No more, bat of mine, shall we wallop a single,
    No more shall our prowess result in a run;
    No more shall the yells of the fans set a-tingle
    Our blood; for our days on the diamond are done.
    So fare thee well, pal of the sunshiny weather,
    We've won our last volley of cheers and of praise;
    We've romped o'er the field for the last time together,
    And now we must travel our separate ways.

  3. To Timothy H. Murnane

    by Ralph E. McMillin

    Pack up his bats, pick up his glove,
    For him the Game is done;
    At last the stars peep out above
    The setting of the sun.
    Once more the field, serene at night,
    Is still, and hushed the shout.
    The Presence chokes us as we write
    Just this: "He ran it out."

    Above the plate Time held the ball:
    He turned the last gray bag
    With stride that weakened not at all.
    His spirit did not lag,
    But proudly Homeward bound he sped,
    Nor feared the final rout.
    High flung at last the silver'd head,
    Unbowed "he ran it out."

  4. Looking Backward and Forward

    by Ralph E. McMillin

    I
    The great stand's massive horseshoe towers
    And casts its shadow o'er the field,
    The clean-cut base paths carve the sward,
    An emerald diamond on a shield;
    Across the glossy sheen—
    The verdant stretching green—
    Lazy, the bleachers rise,
    Gaunt frames against the skies.
    Daily I labor here,
    Labor to cry and cheer,
    Closing my eyes, look back
    Along the winding track,
    And see, dim set there in the year's gray haze,
    The tree-fringed diamond of my boyhood days.

    II
    The maple trees that lined the road,
    The meadow stretching to the stream;
    The deep worn sunken pitcher's box,
    Each measured white stone base a-gleam,
    Planted at ev'ry turn,
    Your bare, bruised feet to burn;
    There in the evening's cool
    Respite from field or school,
    Sacred to Saturday's
    Scroll of tremendous frays;
    There where the hills looked down,
    Guarding the nestling town,
    First came the Vision, pointing out the way,
    The dream of Big League diamonds far away.

  5. Play the Game

    by Edgar A. Guest

    When the umpire calls you out,
    It's no use to stamp and shout,
    Wildly kicking dust about—
    Play the game!
    And though his decision may
    End your chances for the day,
    Rallies often end that way—
    Play the game!

    When the umpire shouts: "Strike two!"
    And the ball seems wide to you,
    There is just one thing to do:
    Play the game!
    Keep your temper at the plate,
    Grit your teeth and calmly wait,
    For the next one may be straight
    Play the game!

    When you think the umpire's wrong,
    Tell him so, but jog along;
    Nothing's gained by language strong—
    Play the game!
    For his will must be obeyed
    Wheresoever baseball's played,
    Take his verdict as it's made—
    Play the game!

    Son of mine, beyond a doubt,
    Fate shall often call you "out,"
    But keep on, with courage stout—
    Play the game! In the battlefield of men
    There'll come trying moments when
    You shall lose the verdict—then
    Play the game!

    There's an umpire who shall say
    You have missed your greatest play,
    And shall dash your hopes away—
    Play the game!
    You must bow unto his will
    Though your chance it seems to kill,
    And you think he erred, but still
    Play the game!

    For the Great Umpire above
    Sees what we see nothing of,
    By His wisdom and His love—
    Play the game!
    Keep your faith in Him although
    His grim verdicts hurt you so,
    At His Will we come and go—
    Play the game!