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
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
," 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
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
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
!" 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
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
on the bum; And when he stepped into the box, the multitude went wild; He doffed his cap in proud disdain, but
"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
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
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
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
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
hit the ball.
~James Wilson~ 1906
"Take Me Out To The Ballgame"