Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October, Baseball, and Cats

"Fall in Pennsyltucky"
photograph by Bruce Carriker

photographer's note: "Sort of Americana, no?
And yes, that is Gobbler's Knob in the background.
Good for you for paying attention!"

In honor of the World Series, I dedicate this blog post to my twin brother Bruce. In autumns past, he has sent me the following two poems: one in which October itself is described in terms of a baseball game; and one in which we learn what our sports - minded feline friends are daydreaming about!

the high fly ball,
arches out above left field,
hangs there in the sky
outblazing the sun
while fifty thousand heads swings and cry
"Over the wall! Over the wall!"

then hold, fixed and dumb
as the ball drops
down and down, a dead bird
into a waiting glove

and there you have it: the song,
the flight, the perilous whisper of truth
or of love or possibly of faith

then the descent
and the end of the game

by Hester Jewell Dawson

[I could locate no biographical information on Dawson,
other than this brief reference in the Baseball Almanac;
if anyone knows more, please share!]

What The Cat Contemplates
While Pretending to Clean Herself

So attentive
to her paws
she seems
leaning over
but thinking
not about what dirt
has climbed under her claws.
No, the cat sees herself
sternly stepping to the plate
spitting in her paw palms
and gripping the bat just so.
With the look of feline indifference
she tends to one final itch
before staring down the pitcher
in the last instant before delivery.

When she rubs
her wet cat wrist
behind her furry ear
you'd think she had a spot
of mud there
or a flea
but really
the cat is signaling
the runner at first
to stretch that lead a little further down the baseline.

By the time
she is perched
on her hind legs
lapping at the fur
of her underside
the cat is sliding safely
into home.

by Nancy Boutilier
from On the Eighth Day Adam Slept Alone
© Black Sparrow Press

Another view of scenic Pennsylvania,
this one taken by my sister, Peggy Carriker Rosenbluth

photographer's note: "Beautiful fall picture.
Maybe I'll get this made into a jigsaw puzzle.
Taken on the way to Fulton County Folk Festival
Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania"


  1. A Note from my brother Bruce:

    And each October (or November, now that the TV gods make all the decisions), it ends this way for all but one team. Which causes me to wonder, "Why do we make the choices we make as children?" Perhaps my daughter Anna, the psychologist among us, can analyze that for us.

    What foods we like? That's easy. We taste and decide. But, how did I became a Cardinals fan? Though we moved to St. Louis following my fourth grade year, I was already a diehard Cardinals fan by that time. Why? Where I lived, in SW Missouri, I could...and did...listen to the Cardinals and the Kansas City Athletics.

    I remember rooting for Rocky Colavito and Ed Charles, just as passionately as I rooted for Ken Boyer and Bill White. Midway through the season, the A's called up this exciting young shortstop, Campy Campaneris, and I loved him. So, why the Cardinals? For most of 1964...the year I became a fan...the Cardinals were not in the pennant race. They were middle of the pack, while the Phillies and the GIants battled for first place. So, it wasn't a winner over loser kind of thing.

    Maybe it was a Tim McCarver thing. Like McCarver, I batted left and threw right. Like McCarver, I was a catcher. I suppose it was natrual that my first baseball hero was Tim McCarver, and he was the Cardinals' catcher. Maybe that's how it happened. If so, I'm so thankful that McCarver played for the Cardinals...and not the Cubs or the Mets or the Athletics; and that he had not yet been traded to the Phillies. And that Charlie Lau couldn't win the A's catching job from Doc Edwards. (For those who don't know about Lau , he went on to become of the games great hitting coaches, before dying too young, at age 50, in 1984. But, in 1964 he was the A's backup catcher. He batted left and threw right.)

    But, I have digressed. Through whatever serendipitous sequence of events, conscious and unconscious, sometime during that summer of 1964 I became a Cardinals fan. It is one of the best things to happen in my life.

    When the ball drops down and down, like a dead bird, into the waiting glove, for the last time each season, only one team celebrates. I have friends who are Cubs fans. I laugh at them. But, somewhere deep inside, I hurt for them. You see, every October, if you are a Cubs fan, the ball drops down and down, like the dead bird, into the waiting glove, and there you have it…another Cubs’ season finished. And there is no celebration. They go to the locker room; they shower; they dress; and they go home, to wait for spring training. And another opportunity to perhaps, finally, see their October end differently.

    But, me? I’m a Cardinals’ fan. That October of 1964, my team celebrated after the last out. It was the Yankees who went home to wait for spring training. It happened again in 1967. It took fifteen years – and when those fifteen years are between the ages of ten and twenty-five, they seem like forever – but, then it happened again, in 1982. A horrible 24-year wait, but then it happened in 2006, and again in 2011. And that last one was sweet, because I got to watch the final out with my daughter, who loves the Cardinals ALMOST as much as I do.

    I know why she loves them. She can’t help it. She was raised to love them. But, neither of my parents, nor my older siblings…nor my younger siblings, for that matter, cared about the Cardinals when I was a kid. Dad and my younger brother came around later, but not in the 1960’s, when my devotion was formed and sworn.

  2. Cont. from Bruce:

    Why me? How did I get so lucky? How and why did I choose so fortuitously? Five times in my lifetime my team has celebrated when the final out was made. Only the Yankees have won more World Series than the Cardinals since 1964. (And we all know that since the days of free agency, they don’t build teams in New York, they buy them. So, their championships all come with an asterisk.) Why have I been blessed to enjoy that last out celebration five times, while the fans of ten teams – most especially, the Cubs – have been denied that ecstasy even one time?

    Sorry, Cubs’ fans. Well…okay…maybe not THAT sorry. And maybe I am still laughing, just a little. I can’t help it. I’m a Cardinals’ fan.