Got off the train at Cooperstown.
Good day for a game; it’d be a lot
More fun than what’s been planned.
Is it a great game or what?
A grownup gets paid to play
A kid’s game. I played every day
Instead of going to a job
Like most folks have to do.
They’ve got to work to pay the bills
That keep on piling up on you
By slinging hash or tending bars
Or pumping gas or making cars.
A mule ahead and me behind the plow,
I’ve been there, done that, a barefoot chap
In a beat up straw hat. I thank the Lord
That He saw fit to let it be when Pap
Gave up the farm. In town I saw boys playing
Ball; I heard the head honcho saying,
'Y'all want to play?' I tried out their bat
And cleared a fence about
Four hundred feet away.
They put me in the pasture out
Past all the others. Balls they hit
I caught like I’d been born to it.
Then on a line I’d lay
It on the plate, to which
Somebody said, ‘I’d like
To see if he can pitch.
Let’s let him show what he can do.’
I climbed the mound and threw a few.
I got so good at it
That some of them got sore
And asked me not to play
With them no more.
It was too far so no scouts came
To see me play a single game.
At college I walked on.
‘Could you folks use a hand,’ I said.
They were shorthanded so
I got the go-ahead.
Again they put me way out there
Past all the others where
I soon felt I had found a home.
I climbed the bank and shagged flies,
Ran down long drives and caught sinking liners
Off the grass. I wanted to rise
In the ranks, a chance to show
What I could do; I asked to throw
A few. The head man said,
‘Ever pitched before? Let's see what you got.’
And handed me the ball.
I answered, ‘Shore, but not a lot.
I pitched so hard the catcher quit
When I set fire to his catcher’s mitt.’
State Champs last year, and all still there,
They watched to see what I had.
I wasn’t the type to get stage fright
But I took the mound a nervous lad
And promptly forgot all I knew.
The first thing you learn to do
Is grip the ball tight. As it
Was bound to do, it sailed.
I walked a few and then a few more.
But then, thank goodness, what I had failed
To think to do I thought to do--
What I well knew you ought to do.
I squeezed the ball, struck out the side.
The cleanup hitter, his jaw dropped
When I surprised him with a curve.
But he didn’t quit. He swung and popped
It up in no man’s land--their only hit.
The team gathered round. ‘Man, you got grit.
‘You showed some heart, you cleaned their plow.
You’re bound to start on opening day.’
[Did I feel good! It never got no better than that.]
The rest is history, as they say.
‘He’s faster than Feller or “The Train,”
A curve like Casey and a brain
‘As tough as rawhide, razor sharp.
He can carouse and drink more beer
Than Babe, can change up smoother
Than the skin on a baby’s rear.'
The records fell like bowling pins--
Awards enough for a dozen dens.
‘He hit the horsehide harder than a Lemon,
Best there ever was, they say, defied
The Designated Hitter Rule.
It’d have been mad to have denied
Him his At Bats.’ Though it’s a sham
I’ll still sit still for them to cram
Another honor down my throat,
Consent to sit and sign my name
Beside a sign assigning me
A seat inside the Hall of Fame.
For what, I ask, but something you
Or any other kid would pay to do?