Baseball, more baseball

Monday’s post got me thinking, again, about baseball in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when I first fell in love with the game. (Actually I spend most of my waking hours thinking about baseball from when I was a kid.)

I first published this poem more than five years ago, just after my son was born. I meant to reprint it at the beginning of the baseball season this year, but I suppose now’s as good a time as any. (It’s still Father’s Day week, right? Oh, and let’s make Father’s Week a thing.)

With apologies to Ogden Nash, who first published a similar poem in 1949, using names from his days following the game as a young man, here is, again, “Lineup from My Youth.”

 

“Lineup from My Youth”

My dear little Franklin,

My bundle of joy.

Let me share a few names

From when I was a boy.

 

A is for Alomar,

Few families were better.

But let’s not forget

The Alous at this letter.

 

B is for Biggio

And Bagwell his buddy.

Together they stuck

Like old silly putty.

 

C is for Canseco,

So powerfully built.

The sight of him made

A.L. pitchers just wilt.

 

D is for Dykstra

With a mouthful of chew.

He played for the Mets

And Philadelphia too.

 

E is for Eckersley,

Who began as a starter.

From the ’pen A.L. hitters

Found few pitchers harder.

 

F is for Frank Thomas,

“The Big Hurt,” they’d cheer.

No right-handed slugger

Would bring out more fear.

 

G is for Griffey,

The Kid had no match.

He could run, he could throw,

He could hit, he could catch.

 

H is for Henderson,

Who sent other teams reeling.

No one could catch him

When Rickey was stealing.

 

I is for Ivan

Rodriguez, or “Pudge.”

He threw out runners

With a personal grudge.

 

J is for Jackson

“Bo knows,” they would say.

Played football and baseball

Both the same way.

 

K is for Kirby,

As in Kirby Puckett.

And kid-friendly poems,

So no Man from Nantucket.

 

L is for Larkin,

Barry’s his name.

Guy never lost

A World Series game.

 

M is for Mattingly,

McGwire, McGriff,

Maddux, and Martinezes

Too many to list.

 

N is for Nomo,

The Japanese star.

They figured him out,

Then they hit the ball far.

 

O is for Olerud,

Blue Jays first baseman.

Two World Series make

Our minds not erase him.

 

P is for Palmeiro,

Quite a lesson he learned.

Did too much juice

As the Feds were concerned.

 

Q is for Quisenberry,

Dan to his friends.

Quipped to Ronald Reagan:

“There you go again.”

 

R is for Ripken

And games never missed.

Few could deny

His place on this list.

 

S is for Sheffield

And Strawberry too.

Both got in trouble

With the boys they call Blue.

 

T is for Tony,

Mr. Gwynn if you’re formal.

To be so consistent

Is far beyond normal.

 

U is for Ugueth

Urbina, of course.

Sticking with U’s

A tough rule to enforce.

 

V is for Viola,

That’s Frank not the fiddle.

His pitches often made

Big hitters look little.

 

W is for Wade,

Not Phillips but Boggs.

As important to the time

As those things we called Pogs.

 

X is for Xavier

Hernandez the pitcher.

Six teams in nine years

Made him quite the switcher.

 

Y is for the man

They call Robin Yount.

He’s got more Brewer records

Than Elias can count.

 

Z is for Ozzie,

The Wizard with leather.

Few men have so brought

St. Louis together.

 

And so my dear Franklin

I give you this roster.

And a love for the game

I hope it will foster.

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About moc

My name is Mike O'Connell. I am 36 years old and live in Northern Virginia. I am a teacher, a musician, and an enthusiast of all things American.

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