Mark Fidrych spoke to the ball (but it never
Answered him). Yoenis Cespedes fractured
His ankle because of a wild boar on his ranch.
Jimmy Piersall ran the bases backwards in a
Most unusual home run trot; he also spoke to
Babe Ruth, who was in the stands (and deceased).
Casey Stengel spoke a strange language, as did
Yogi Berra but only the Ol’ Perfessor once
Had a bird — not Fidrych, a real sparrow —
Under his hat till he tipped it. Then there’s
Turk Wendell, who leaped over the foul line
Every time while wearing a necklace he made
From animal teeth and claws he had hunted.
Joe Nuxhall began his Major League career
At age 15 in 1943 while in 1951, 3’7” Eddie
Gaedel walked in his only MLB at-bat.
Ryne Duran threw the ball past the catcher to the stands
When he warmed up as a feared Yankee reliever while
Another reliever, Al Hrabosky, often argued with
Himself as he stomped angrily across the mound.
Pete Gray managed to play the outfield . . .
With one arm, Jim Abbott starred as a hurler
With one hand and Monty Stratton pitched
And fielded with a single leg — all three
Personifying Major courage and determination.
Satchel Paige pitched his final game at age 59.
Tug McGraw kept chanting, “Ya gotta believe”
In 1973 while his Mets came from nowhere
To almost winning the World Series.
Pitcher Greg A. Harris faced Major League
Batters as an ambidextrous pitcher in 1995.
Ryan Dempster enjoyed playing pranks on
Teammates while Bill “The Spaceman” Lee
(Who liked to dress like an astronaut)
Claimed that he sprinkled marijuana on his
Breakfast cereal daily. Phenomenal Smith
In the 1800’s claimed he was so good that he
Could win without his teammates (till they
Showed him he was wrong by making 14 errors
Behind him one day). Did I mention that Wendell
Would often stuff his mouth with licorice before
Each inning pitched — and brush his teeth between
Those innings? Rube Waddell was easily distracted
By shiny objects in the stands. Moe Berg was a spy
For the OSS (now the CIA) during World Was II.
Marvelous Marv Throneberry once hit a triple,
Only to be called out because he hadn’t stepped on
First or second base. Yes, baseball is a game of inches
But it is also a game of human beings, of characters
That make it memorable way beyond statistics and
History. There is no such animal as a typical ballplayer.
Baseball is indeed the most human of sports,
Reflecting all that we are and all we can be,
And celebrating the uniqueness of us all.