A Ballad of Baseball Burdens

Original Text: 

Franklin P. Adams, In Other Words (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1912): 66-67. LE A2121i Robarts Library

3Else fandom shouteth: "Who said you could play?
4    Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!"
5    Swat, hit, connect, line out, get on the job.
6Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom's ire
7    Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob --
8This is the end of every fan's desire.
9The burden of good pitching. Curved or straight.
10    Or in or out, or haply up or down,
11To puzzle him that standeth by the plate,
12    To lessen, so to speak, his bat-renoun:
14So pitch that every man can but admire
15    And offer you the freedom of the town --
16This is the end of every fan's desire.
17The burden of loud cheering. O the sounds!
18    The tumult and the shouting from the throats
20    Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.
21    A mighty cheer that possibly denotes
24This is the end of every fan's desire.
26    The tenuous hope, the hope that's half a fear,
29    O dread disgrace of trailing in the rear,
30O Piece of Bunting, flying high and higher
31    That next October it shall flutter here:
32This is the end of every fan's desire.
33ENVOY
35    Be that to which most fondly we aspire!
36For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race --
37    THIS is the end of every fan's desire.

Notes

1] A pastiche of Algernon Charles Swinburne's "A Ballad of Burdens," whose stanzas begin, "The burden of fair women", "The burden of bought kisses," "The burden of sweet speeches," "The burden of long living," etc., and whose chorus is "This is the end of every man's desire." Back to Line
2] Honus Wagner (1875-1955), shortstop with the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates, a player who batted .300 or more for seventeen consecutive years and who was National League batting champion for seven years, with a lifetime batting average of .329. Tyrus Cobb (1886-1961), "the Georgia Peach," who played with the Detroit Tigers, won twelve batting average titles, with a lifetime average of .367 and over 4191 hits. Back to Line
13] Christy Mathewson (1880-1925), a player with the New York Giants, and the greatest pitcher of his time, with a career earned-run-average of .213, four shutouts, and twenty wins in thirteen seasons. Miner Brown (1876-1946), a great three-fingered pitcher with the Chicago Cubs. Back to Line
19] Polo Grounds: home stadium of the New York Giants from 1911 to 1957, and of the New York Mets from then to 1963. In 1912 it held 34,000 spectators. Back to Line
22] Cub: Chicago Cubs. Pirate: Pittsburg Pirates. Back to Line
23] H. James: Henry James (1843-1916), Anglo-American novelist, whose language was far more sophisticated than "We've got their goats." Back to Line
25] a pennant: the year's top team in either the American or the National Leagues. Back to Line
27] dope: inside information. Back to Line
28] bromidic: truism, commonplace saying. Back to Line
34] Quarry: what is pursued. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2003
Rhyme: 
Form: