Romancing the Horsehide

Baseball Poems on Players and the Game
By Gene Carney
New York, Harper Perennial, 1992

Disclaimers: Gene Carney is a regular contributor to A Red Sox Journal, and I am not qualified to be a poetry critic. But so what?

A poetry book is random access, open up and read awhile, then close the book and think about it. Gene writes what they call free verse, meaning it doesn't rhyme. If he were a pitcher he would be a finesse pitcher, one who paints the corners. The subtitle of this book is Baseball Poems on Players and the Game. Most of the ones I have read so far are about the game.

I was just watching the Little League World Series, and kept thinking about a poem called Little League Mom --

She's terrified by the speed

Of the ball

That he has to face...

He's terrified of fanning

Which reminded me of an interview with a professional athlete who said his greatest motivator was fear of failure. In another poem, Gene writes:

I don't know about you

But when I was a kid

We played ball

As far away from the adults

As we could get

Gene manages to delve into many of the nooks and crannies of a baseball fan's soul. In Stubs, he wonders why he saves the ticket stubs to every game he attends. Here's Grandstand in its entirety:

The roof giveth

And the roof taketh away

Shelter from

Foul balls

And foul weather

Protector of

Souvenir scorecards

Haven of vendors

And those who

In real life


To move up a notch

From General Admission

I'll be done reading this in a couple of years, and then write another review -- DN

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