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Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960)

A Ballad of Baseball Burdens


              1The burden of hard hitting. Slug away
              2    Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.
              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:
            13    Like Christy Mathewson or Miner Brown,
            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
            19Of forty thousand at the Polo Grounds
            20    Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.
            21    A mighty cheer that possibly denotes
            22That Cub or Pirate fat is in the fire;
            23    Or, as H. James would say, We've got their goats --
            24This is the end of every fan's desire.

            25The burden of a pennant. O the hope,
            26    The tenuous hope, the hope that's half a fear,
            27The lengthy season and the boundless dope,
            28    And the bromidic; "Wait until next year."
            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

            34Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase
            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."

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.

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.

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.

22] Cub: Chicago Cubs. Pirate: Pittsburg Pirates.

23] H. James: Henry James (1843-1916), Anglo-American novelist, whose language was far more sophisticated than "We've got their goats."

25] a pennant: the year's top team in either the American or the National Leagues.

27] dope: inside information.

28] bromidic: truism, commonplace saying.

34] Quarry: what is pursued.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Franklin P. Adams, In Other Words (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1912): 66-67. LE A2121i Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/12

Form: ababbcbc
Rhyme: ballade


Other poems by Franklin Pierce Adams