I have a different take on The Commerce Comet;
Yes, he was a three-time MVP and a Triple Crown winner
In 1956; I recognize his power — hitting the longest
Home run ever measured in the Major Leagues,
At 565 feet, against Chuck Stobbs of the Senators;
Yes, he was on seven World Series Championships
And he hit 18 home runs in the 12 Series he was in.
I commend his 20 appearances in All-Star games
And loved his chase with Maris in trying to better
The Babe’s record 60 homers (too bad an injury
Reduced Mantle’s number to 54, while Maris went on
To set the AL record until eclipsed by Judge).
No, as impressive as these stats are, they aren’t
What, to me, defined The Mick. It was his courage,
His essence, his ability to drag a bunt when he hit
Left-handed, and before you knew it, he was past first!
The man who bore the lifelong effects of osteomyelitis,
A teenage condition that made him face three surgeries,
Who badly hurt his knee early in his career, in 1951,
Who was wrapped in bandages every day he played,
Would pull a left-handed bunt past the pitcher,
Make the second baseman charge
Desperately and try to throw him out, to no avail,
Because Mickey got to first in 3.1 seconds (90 feet
In 3.1 seconds, bandages and all!), and this to me was
The most exciting play I ever saw. I watched as he would chase
And reach fly balls trying desperately to escape his grasp
As the man who replaced DiMaggio in center field,
But nothing ever brought me to my feet or made me cheer
As loudly as this less than perfect physical specimen zoom
Past first by the time the fielder touched his drag bunt.
This was the way I measured him, his courage, his determination,
His victory over physical challenges — and this is the lesson
I took from each success. You will meet challenges in life
But it is how you handle them that determines who you are.
Mickey was a model to be followed and even now
As I face my own physical challenges in extra innings,
The memory of Mickey dragging that bunt and flying
To first finds a vital home in my twilight memory.