CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life For the Years of Winter…
FROSTY AND THE BABE [W, 3-28-18]
In the spring, an old man’s fancy turns to baseball. Spring training time is over. Next year is here. Any team can go all the way to World Series victory. Sort of like contemplating heaven. So I thought it appropriate to bring out of winter’s back room a baseball poem I have posted here before.
When Hofstra University hosted a conference to celebrate the 100th birth of Babe Ruth, they asked for poems about the Babe. I had just read a statement by Robert Frost in “Sports Illustrated” that “One of my unfulfilled promises on earth was to my fellow in art, Alfred Kreyemborg, to write a poem about a ball batted so hard by Babe Ruth that it never came back, but got to going round and round the world like a satellite.” So I wrote the following poem to fulfill Frost’s promise, sort of. It was read at the conference. Hofstra asked me to come read it myself, but I could not because it conflicted with an Academy of Parish Clergy meeting. [For some strange reason I used to think that being a preacher was more important than being a baseball poet.]
“For Alfred, From Bob and the Babe, at Last”
The Bambino’s team was mighty,
Nine stories full of fame,
DiMaggio and Gehrig,
Masters of the game.
Lazzeri, Dickey, Berra,
Made pitchers weep at night.
Ruffing, Ford and Hoyt,
They were a fearsome sight.
Yes, Babe’s team, it was mighty,
All members of the Hall,
But they’d never faced old Frosty,
That master of the ball.
Frosty heaved it with a sentence,
Frosty hurled it with a word.
When Frosty threw the horsehide
It split lumber like a sword.
Frosty turned his back on walls,
Unlovable as sin,
Frosty turned and faced home plate,
Where they have to take you in.
He took the road less traveled,
As he stopped beside the wood,
Then he turned and faced the platter,
Where the Babe in splendor stood.
The Babe was rapt and ready,
He gave his hat a tip.
Three runners took their leads,
On the bat Babe took his grip.
Babe pointed to the outfield,
His finger to the sky,
Far beyond the fences,
To the clouds away up high.
Frosty rhymed the spheroid.
Babe took a mighty swing.
The ball was split in even halves,
It was an awesome thing.
Half soared beyond the fences,
Half fell into the mitt.
Half the ball was called a strike,
Half was a home run hit.
Babe trotted ‘round the bases,
As half the ball kept climbin’
Frosty dipped his pen to fans,
Threw verse upon the diamond.
One a poet with the lumber,
One a poet with the phrase
One his bat all full of thunder,
One his arm all full of grace.
This was originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly and is on the “Baseball Almanac” web site at