A Ballad of Baseball Burdens

The burden of hard hitting. Slug away
      Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.
Else fandom shouteth: “Who said you could play?
      Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!”
      Swat, hit, connect, line out, get on the job.
Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom’s ire
      Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob—
This is the end of every fan’s desire.

The burden of good pitching. Curved or straight.
      Or in or out, or haply up or down,
To puzzle him that standeth by the plate,
      To lessen, so to speak, his bat-renoun:
      Like Christy Mathewson or Miner Brown,
So pitch that every man can but admire
      And offer you the freedom of the town—
This is the end of every fan’s desire.

The burden of loud cheering. O the sounds!
      The tumult and the shouting from the throats
Of forty thousand at the Polo Grounds
      Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.
      A mighty cheer that possibly denotes
That Cub or Pirate fat is in the fire;
      Or, as H. James would say, We’ve got their goats—
This is the end of every fan’s desire.

The burden of a pennant. O the hope,
      The tenuous hope, the hope that’s half a fear,
The lengthy season and the boundless dope,
      And the bromidic; “Wait until next year.”
      O dread disgrace of trailing in the rear,
O Piece of Bunting, flying high and higher
      That next October it shall flutter here:
This is the end of every fan’s desire.

ENVOY

Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase
      Be that to which most fondly we aspire!
For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race—
      THIS is the end of every fan’s desire.

More Poems by Franklin Pierce Adams