In the late 50’s, Ryne Duren,
the big Yankee relief pitcher
with 100 mile an hour fast balls
was often summoned by the manager,
Casey Stengel, to close out games.
He would vault over the bullpen fence
along the right field line,
amble to the mound, peer down at the plate
through thick glasses and uncork
a warm up pitch onto the backstop screen,
reinforcing his reputation as
a reliever with poor control
and even poorer eyesight
who dared batters to dig in
when they stepped up to bat.
He had a short but effective career
with the Bronx Bombers,
a four time All Star who appeared
in the World Series as well.
More important than his baseball stats,
when his playing days came to a close,
he learned to tame the throes
of depression and drinking sprees
which had plagued him
most of his baseball career.
He lent his name to support groups,
made many public appearances
and counseled other alcoholics.
Years after Ryen Duren left the game,
he made his most important saves.