Extra Innings: Baseball Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins ISBN 0152268332
Four out of five stars
Apart from the greatest baseball poem ever, “Casey at the Bat,” the poems in this collection are simply average. In baseball jargon, “two-fifty hitters.” They cover both genders engaged in the great American game.
Other than the one about the mighty Casey, the two best poems in this collection are about players and events that are part of baseball history. The first of the two is called “To Satch” and is a short tribute to the great Satchel Paige, arguably the best pitcher to ever play the game. Barred from the major leagues due to the color line, Satchel didn’t make the majors until he may have been near fifty years old. Yet, he could still get the batters out. Countless white players said that he was the toughest that they ever faced.
The second of the two is about a simple event of comradeship. The title is “from Teammates” and is about a supposed incident when Jackie Robinson made an error at second and was being horrendously booed by the crowd. Shortstop Pee Wee Reese walked over and put his arm around Jackie’s shoulder and faced the crowd, causing them to quiet down. While the actual event never happened, this poem is simple, yet contains a powerful message.
Like all other areas of human endeavor, poetry can mesh well with baseball and this book is an existence proof of that fact.