The Longest Home Run by Jason de Koff

The designated hitter approaches the plate,

no concern can be found written on his face

or the way he holds his tool of the trade,

sizing up the man across the way

who is tossing his rosin bag as if taking its weight.

And then the pitch is thrown and the crack reverberates

through the crowd and the hitter looks to the sky

and pulls the smallest muscle in his gigantic thigh.

He falls to the ground without making a noise

and the first base coach helps him to rise

and leverages himself to help round the bases

but tweaks an old knee injury so is out of the races.

The third base coach now approaches his teammate

but he is too small and can’t bear the weight

so the head coach comes out and helps the two

finish their run as a good leader should do.

As they come around third and are almost through,

all three trip and one loses his shoe.

Before you know it, both dugouts are cleared

but not for a fight as the audience feared.

It is to carry the men through which results in cheers,

it was the longest home run, and few would forget it for years.

Jason de Koff is an associate professor of agronomy and soil science at Tennessee State University.  He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife, Jaclyn, and his two daughters, Tegan and Maizie.  He has published in a number of scientific journals, and has over 80 poems published or forthcoming in literary journals over the last year.  Find him on Twitter @JasonPdK3

Learning Baseball

When did I first hear about baseball?

From whom? Dad out in the garage

with the radio late at night. No,

even before then. My grandfather.

Us out in the driveway in early summer

painting a bookcase. He shows me

how to brush the strokes, while in between

providing slow detailed instructions

on how to properly oil a baseball glove.

Jack C. Buck lives in Boise, Idaho. He is the author of the books Gathering View and Deer Michigan. Find him on Twitter @Jack_C_Buck  

Pandemic Baseball

It’s mostly the same:

the pitcher poised and predatory,

the batter fidgety with anticipation,

the catcher and umpire

both squatting and masked.

You barely notice the lifeless

imitation of rooting fans

planted behind home plate,

the soundtrack of phantom

cheers playing on a loop.

It is only with the crackle

of collision, the soaring arc

of propulsion, the hands

raised in triumph, the ricochet

off the vacant bleacher seat,

the camera panned to a God’s-eye view,

that we can see what we’ve lost.

Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orange Blossom ReviewFunicular Magazine, and EcoTheo Review, among others. His debut chapbook, I Close My Eyes and I Almost Remember, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Find him on Twitter @2glassandrews He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com

Reading The Signs

For ten games, half the season, I went hitless,

the ball a blurred mustard seed like the one inside

the pearled cross my mother pinned inside my jersey

to give you faith she said, expecting some kind of miracle

from my wet noodle swing, a mother’s persistent superstition.

So, when I hit the pitcher above the eye, the ball dribbling away

into the grass, she imagined each stitch, remembered each bruise

rising on my skin, the miracle of shiny smooth pink under each scab

the balm of wiping tears, the persistent clapping thud of her heart

as I kept running down the line through the bag away from her.

Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in The Westchester Review, littledeathlit, and the forthcoming issues of Contrary Magazine, Gyroscope Review and others. You can find him online at www.jaredbeloff.com. Follow him on twitter @read_instead

Did it All Begin with Robin Roberts?

Oh, I don’t know. 

I hardly knew who he was when I was little:

the Whiz Kids were already done in Philly,

and I was two for chrissakes. 

But his name, I recall, it could go both ways,

when I was 7. 

And like so many names, it drew me. 

Like so many American names, they just go both ways,

first and last merging as they pass each other,

pivoting perhaps on the tail of a comma.

And at 7 I’d already discovered some things about Dad’s name,

Howard, as in how he made me write thank-you’s

and other notes that always started

How are … wasn’t that my Dad’s name, Howard?

Dad, who never knew sports in the news at all.

But the real deal for me,

Willie Mays, he had my Dad’s name as a middle name:

Willie Howard Mays, Jr.,

nerdy middle name for the greatest center fielder ever. 

Then, 1958 and the Giants new in San Francisco;

when I was 9, I’d stand right up next to the bed

with my tiny transistor turned low, low, low

(after all, I was supposed to be going to sleep),

as the “Star Spangled Banner” played before the game. 

I was saluting what Willie might do as much as any spangle,

whatever in the world was actually spangled

And how, then, is a flag spangled, or how does a flag spangle?

Names. Gotta have ‘em.

Most everybody does.

Even our flag, Old Glory,

and Robin Roberts, WWII vet,

after his time in the Army Air Corps,

pitched past Brooklyn in the final game of 1950.

But the Whiz Kids couldn’t get a win

against those Yanks though Roberts, Robin

helped them get pretty close in Game 2.

Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern is a photographer with awards for his poems and stories and is also a performer with dancer/composer Lucinda Weaver as PACES: dance & poetry fit to the space and with musicians from composingtogether.orgLines & Faces, his press with artist/printer Robert Woods: linesandfaces.com Find him on Twitter @AlanBern1

Two Baseball Poems by J. Travis Grundon

KNOCKOUT

I’m out in left field

Watching the bird and the bees

With one eye on the concession stand

Pam was in short shorts and bikini top

for the world to see.

She eats ice cream and giggles.

Then she’s gone, without a trace.

My attention is drawn to baseball

heading for my face.

HOMERUN SICK

America’s past time.

I’m all dugout.

Riding the bench

Like a bitch

When I finally get my swing

“Strike!”

The pitcher signals.

The umpire yells,”Strike two!”

The pitcher signals again.

I swing as hard as I can.

“Strike three!”

I just want to go home.

J. Travis Grundon is the author of more than 500 short stories and poems, including work published with Alien Buddha Zine, The Daily Drunk. EconoClash Review, Punk Noir, Skyway Journal, and many other anthologies and publications. He is the editor of Hoosier Noir Magazine and several anthologies, including Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead. He lives in Indiana. Follow him on Twitter @JTravisGrundon Catch him online at  http://www.jtravisgrundon.blogspot.com

The Miners, the Minors, Carbondale, Illinois

I come from a no-team town to see the Miners play,

fall down drunk in the stands with you, obnoxious

off the train from Chicago

in your Pittsburgh stovepipe,

Expos jersey, beard shaved to handlebars

for a bygone day in downstate minors country.

Spilling, lisping, rubbing up

against you, admiring

sinew-ripping throws, welp, he’s going nowhere

fast like that. I lament

poor Miners, poor minors, poor Carbondale

a literal coal field, spent.

Confessions & taunts & kisses & curses, wise cracks

of bats & beer cans, getting backward looks

he’s probably that player’s grandpa, poor grandpas, you know

I don’t like baseball

fans, but I’m a fan of baseball

men. You get a piece

of the action when a foul ball pops

me, inattentive

yet rapt, as I get

drunk & near-sighted in the sun.

Edie Meade is a writer, visual artist, and mother of four boys in Huntington, West Virginia. She is passionate about literacy and collects books like they’re going out of style. She has published two collections of poetry, Every Day Is A Love Letter, and Birth & Other Stages of Death. Say hi on Twitter @ediemeade or https://ediemeade.com/.

Five Baseball Haiku by Lori Cramer

lazy afternoon

sunshine warming grassy field

yearning for baseball

***

post-game interview

grass-stained jersey, solemn tone

next-time promises

***

sunshine’s rays waning

afternoon fading away

baseball on TV

***

September die-hards

on their feet, yelling, cheering

together as one

***

Will you marry me?

private moment turned public

on the Jumbotron

Lori Cramer’s baseball-themed short prose has appeared in The Daily Drunk, Friday Fix Fiction, Thimble Literary Magazine, the Under Review, Whale Road Review,and elsewhere. Links to her writing can be found at https://loricramerfiction.wordpress.com. Find her on Twitter: @LCramer29.