A Ballad of Baseball Burdens

A Ballad of Baseball Burdens
By Franklin Pierce Adams

The burden of hard hitting. Slug away

Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.

Else fandom shouteth: “Who said you could play?

Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!”

Swat, hit, connect, line out, get on the job.

Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom’s ire

Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob—

This is the end of every fan’s desire.

 

The burden of good pitching. Curved or straight.

Or in or out, or haply up or down,

To puzzle him that standeth by the plate,

To lessen, so to speak, his bat-renoun:

Like Christy Mathewson or Miner Brown,

So pitch that every man can but admire

And offer you the freedom of the town—

This is the end of every fan’s desire.

 

The burden of loud cheering. O the sounds!

The tumult and the shouting from the throats

Of forty thousand at the Polo Grounds

Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.

A mighty cheer that possibly denotes

That Cub or Pirate fat is in the fire;

Or, as H. James would say, We’ve got their goats—

This is the end of every fan’s desire.

 

The burden of a pennant. O the hope,

The tenuous hope, the hope that’s half a fear,

The lengthy season and the boundless dope,

And the bromidic; “Wait until next year.”

O dread disgrace of trailing in the rear,

O Piece of Bunting, flying high and higher

That next October it shall flutter here:

This is the end of every fan’s desire.

 

ENVOY

 

Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase

Be that to which most fondly we aspire!

For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race—

THIS is the end of every fan’s desire.


About the author

(Excerpted from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/franklin-pierce-adams)

Franklin Pierce Adams (1881–1960), or F.P.A. as he was known to readers in his lifetime, was best known for his witty and satirical column “The Conning Tower,” which was syndicated in the New York Tribune, the New York World, the New York Herald Tribune, and the New York Post. In his column, to which he had a cult-like following, Adams wrote limericks, puns, and satirical prose to dissect political events, review books and plays, and parody the age. A forthright writer who had the freedom to comment on whatever he chose, F.P.A. peppered his column with light verse. He scorned unrhymed free verse, and his poetry was clever and catchy, utilizing the kind of quipping that was the very spirit of his column. His audience was known to repeat these “F.P.A.isms” everywhere. The verse he wrote for “The Conning Tower” prompted the New York Times to refer to him as “the direct intellectual descendant of Charles Stuart Calverly and Sir William Gilbert,” according to Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Nancy L. Roberts.

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