Softball is played on a diamond and between the lines.
Fair and foul are delineated for players and spectators
Alike, but ever subject to arbitration in a game of inches.
1940 was between two world wars. Photos like these are,
If you like, snaps of suspended animation. Soon the rules
Would change and every man portrayed would have his
Usual range of thought, his very presence, disturbed by
Larger forces, more serious games whose consequences
Play on today in postwar, postwar, postwar, terrorists-are-
Us reconfiguration of continents, interests and economies.
Scales unimaginable when these men brawled in peace in
Weekend or evening stick and ball battles charged equally
With chatter and underhanded pitches that moved big men
Back from their comfort-zone near home: Prescient words?
You, bet. Batter up! The sponsor pitched with a wicked if
Slightly out of control motion. His oversized boxer’s mitts
Reduced the softball to baseball size making if difficult if
Not impossible for any hitter to anticipate origins. Low to
High, fast-pitch or slow the sponsor pitched. Composed,
As they were, of a cross section of Northampton society
Jim’s softball team fielded Irishman, Yankees and Jews
Employed or unemployed, sad station hangers-on, good
Customers plus boys from the neighborhood, Uncle Sam’s
Melting pot. Team-molded by uniforms to serve this brief
Day, soon to be thrown away because Japan attacked Pearl
Harbor, Europe fell, and Great Britain stood alone as FDR
Radioed news in Fireside Chats that became white-hot calls
For a civilian draft: A lottery to pick millions of teammates.
Fielding an All-American Phenom: Swinging for the fences.