Archive for May, 2009

Nostalgia – Baseball!

May 20, 2009

Hello, my friends!

       I’ve been telling you about the softball fortunes of our Lady Ranger Team and I have told you how much I enjoy going to these games.  Some of the pleasure comes from a holdover from my childhood when my dad and I would go to baseball games to watch the Rochester, MN team take on opponents from all over southern MN!  The Rochester team was comprised of young players on the way up to the majors and old players on their way down from the major leagues.  We saw many well-known players and enjoyed the games.  My dad booed the umpires from time to time, cheered the good plays of the home team, and acted as if it really mattered who won and who lost the game.  I saw – in person – Satchel Paige; he pitched three innings against our Royals – struck out all nine of the batters.  I learned to ‘keep score’ in a fancy book my dad bought for me!  I don’t know what the evening cost, but it was ‘priceless’ to me!

       And, now I take a look at the Major leagues and I see huge salaries, huge egos, drug abuse, no loyalty to teams or cities at all, and I wonder if somewhere some young kid goes with his dad to take part in America’s game!

       There is much in baseball to revere – the game has remained pretty much unchanged for many, many years and the records are meticulously kept.  Oh, we have an asterisk or two denoting some unusual acts!  But by and large, the baseball of my grandfather’s day has come down to 2009!

       So, I’m thinking of that and having some nostalgic thoughts about baseball – real or fictional – and I’m wondering what happens when the hero is not heroic!  Remember this?

 

Casey at the Bat

by Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©

Published: The Examiner (06-03-1888)

The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
”That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “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!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’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 Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence 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 Casey’s 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;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

“Phin”

Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©

 

       And, what became of Casey after his miserable performance in Mudville?  Well, ball players don’t stay down long – there’s another game, there’s another season, you’re heard the saying, “Just wait until next year!” 

       Well, Casey had a second chance – a ‘do-over’ – if you will!  How about this?

 

Casey’s Revenge

by Grantland Rice ©

Published: The Speaker (06-1907)

There were saddened hearts in Mudville for a week or even more;
There were muttered oaths and curses- every fan in town was sore.
”Just think,” said one, “how soft it looked with Casey at the bat,
And then to think he’d go and spring a bush league trick like that!”

All his past fame was forgotten- he was now a hopeless “shine.”
They called him “Strike-Out Casey,” from the mayor down the line;
And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh,
While a look of hopeless fury shone in mighty Casey’s eye.

He pondered in the days gone by that he had been their king,
That when he strolled up to the plate they made the welkin ring;
But now his nerve had vanished, for when he heard them hoot
He “fanned” or “popped out” daily, like some minor league recruit.

He soon began to sulk and loaf, his batting eye went lame;
No home runs on the score card now were chalked against his name;
The fans without exception gave the manager no peace,
For one and all kept clamoring for Casey’s quick release.

The Mudville squad began to slump, the team was in the air;
Their playing went from bad to worse – nobody seemed to care.
”Back to the woods with Casey!” was the cry from Rooters’ Row.
”Get some one who can hit the ball, and let that big dub go!”

The lane is long, some one has said, that never turns again,
And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men;
And Casey smiled; his rugged face no longer wore a frown-
The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.

All Mudville had assembled – ten thousand fans had come
To see the twirler who had put big Casey on the bum;
And when he stepped into the box, the multitude went wild;
He doffed his cap in proud disdain, but Casey only smiled.

“Play ball!” the umpire’s voice rang out, and then the game began.
But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan
Who thought that Mudville had a chance, and with the setting sun
Their hopes sank low- the rival team was leading “four to one.”

The last half of the ninth came round, with no change in the score;
But when the first man up hit safe, the crowd began to roar;
The din increased, the echo of ten thousand shouts was heard
When the pitcher hit the second and gave “four balls” to the third.

Three men on base – nobody out – three runs to tie the game!
A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville’s hall of fame;
But here the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night,
When the fourth one “fouled to catcher” and the fifth “flew out to right.”

A dismal groan in chorus came; a scowl was on each face
When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place;
His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed, his teeth were clenched in hate;
He gave his cap a vicious hook and pounded on the plate.

But fame is fleeting as the wind and glory fades away;
There were no wild and woolly cheers, no glad acclaim this day;
They hissed and groaned and hooted as they clamored: “Strike him out!”
But Casey gave no outward sign that he had heard this shout.

The pitcher smiled and cut one loose – across the plate it sped;
Another hiss, another groan. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
Zip! Like a shot the second curve broke just below the knee.
”Strike two!” the umpire roared aloud; but Casey made no plea.

No roasting for the umpire now – his was an easy lot;
But here the pitcher whirled again- was that a rifle shot?
A whack, a crack, and out through the space the leather pellet flew,
A blot against the distant sky, a speck against the blue.

Above the fence in center field in rapid whirling flight
The sphere sailed on – the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight.
Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand threw a fit,
But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit.

O, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun,
And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun!
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall,
But Mudville hearts are happy now, for Casey hit the ball.

Casey’s Revenge by Grantland Rice ©

 

       Ah, the good old days!  For four dollars, Denise and I can ‘re-live’ those moments in the participation of our Lady Rangers!  

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Update plus some advice!

May 5, 2009

            Today I went to the Radiologist to have my last appointment with him – a follow-up to the procedure he performed on March 16, 2009.  Dr. Ameduri has emerged as a special doctor – one like so many doctors I’ve had before, who is willing to discuss what’s happening and to take a few moments to give information which helps one (Me) in knowing what’s going on in this body of mine!

         I had a chance to view the implanted ‘seeds’ that he and my urologist planted in my prostate.  There were about 10 lines – dotted lines – across the front of the chestnut-sized gland indicating where the needles had implanted the radio-active seeds.  These seeds pretty well covered the gland completely, and he explained that I’d now have a cat scan which he would match up with two other ‘pictures’ so that he could know that they had caught the cancer in time.  His report to me was very positive and uplifting.  He said he thought all was going as well as could be and that the doctors had been successful in this procedure.

         He made a comment which caused me a bit ot thought and contemplation – a thought I want to pass on to all of you reading these words.  He said, “There are some in my field who still recommend ‘Watchful Waiting’.  And, if the cancer in the prostrate grows as it often does – glacially – the person will very likely die before this causes a problem.  But, in some cases that cancer can tranform itself, go to another part of the body, and grow at such a rapid rate that the patient is left with little choice for curing the problem!”  I thought about those words and remembered Denise’s father – may he be resting in peace – who received the advice to Wait and Watch.  His cancer transformed into the bones, and he suffered a good bit before his passing.  And, I’m recommitted now to telling all who will listen:  “If you even suspect something is not right, don’t hesitate (don’t wait)!  Instead take the steps necessary to get the problem under control and live the klnd of life you deserve – one of knowing as best you can, that you’ve taken every step necessary to be healthy!

         Men: Let me talk directly to you!  No one dislikes going to see the doctor more than I do – many who know me well will testify to the truth of this statement!  However, I am now a believer in getting things under control as much as you can as soon as you can.  And, when someone who loves you tells you that you might want to check this out, take the advice of one who’s recently ‘been there’; and get yourself into a doctor’s office to take care of matters NOW!  And, while I’m diving into this very personal area of the ‘Lives of Many Men’, let me encourage you to talk about things with those you trust and love!  Women seem to have a way of discussing things which affect them – in a joyous way or in a sad way – even in a worrisome way – and that may be a pretty healthy way of addressing potential stress and the by-products of stress.  There is not a reason in the world why we men can’t ‘go to school’ on their behavior and practice something similar in our lives!  Don’t delay!  Keep yourself well!  Live the Life You Deserve to Live’!!