Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bambino At The Bat
with apologies to Ernest L. Thayer

It looked extremely rocky for the cursed nine that day.
The score was two to four with but one inning left to play.
So, when Pete Rose died at second, and Enos Slaughter did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest
With that hope that springs eternal from within the human breast.
For they thought, if only the Bambino could get a whack at that,
They’d put up even money now, with the Bambino at the bat.
But Mookie Wilson preceded Babe,
and likewise so did Dent,
And the former was a pudding,
and the latter was a fake.
So, on that stricken multitude a death-like silence sat,
For there seemed but little chance of the Bambino getting to the bat.
But Mookie let fly a single to the wonderment of all,
And the much despis├Ęd Dent tore the cover off the ball.
So, when the dust had settled
and they saw what had occurred,
There was Bucky safe at second,
and Wilson a-hugging third.
Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell.
It rumbled in the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell.
It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat—
For the Bambino,
mighty Babe,
was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Babe's manner as he stepped into his place.
There was pride in Babe's bearing and a smile on Babe's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas the Bambino at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Fifty-five thousand tongues applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
And when the writhing gimpy pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance glanced from Babe's eye, a sneer curled the Sultan's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And the Babe stood a-watching it
in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped.
“That ain’t my style,”
said Babe.
“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!”
someone shouted from the stand—
And it’s likely they’d have killed him,
had not the Bambino raised his hand.
With a smile of noble charity great Babe'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 Babe still ignored it,
and the umpire said,
“Strike two!”
cried the maddened thousands,
and the echo answered,
But one scornful look from Babe and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold,
they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that the Bambino would not let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Ruth's lip.
His teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds with cruel vengeance 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 Babe's mighty 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.
there is elation and joy
in Boston
the Bambino's Curse
struck out.

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