Youth was baseball cards, 1951 Bowmans
to be exact, same as the 1950 set, except
longer with the name of the player on the front

Every kid had his own favorite based on
a card’s “look” There were four pitchers
I recall: Walt Masterson of the Red Sox,
a head and shoulders side-view with sunglasses

Marion Fricano ’s horizontal card after he’d
completed a pitch, left leg in back, right arm
extended downward – maybe it was a strike

Virgil Trucks whose nickname was “Fire”
his vertical card also after a pitch that looked
like Fricano’s motion only his was a
warm-up toss

And, of course, Warren Spahn, leg up, getting
ready to throw his fastball, a green wooden fence
for a background

Earl Torgeson is stretched waiting for the ball,
his left foot on the first base bag, his glove
telling the ball Come to me!

Cass Michaels’ card wasn’t particularly exciting,
just a simple head and shoulder shot, but what
a name! An instant gimmie every kid wanted,
the player average, the name special

Phil Rizzuto leaping to stab a line drive, his legs
an upside down V his body a perfect action picture
and the Scooter a Yankee – the best shortstop on the
best team

At third base it’s always Mr. Baseball, Bob Elliott
kneeling with his bat – no prayer needed – just
talent with the bat and glove and with the bat again

Left field could be no one but Teddy Ballgame ,
The Splendid Splinter who has just completed
his swing, his eyes with their extraordinary
vision following the flight of his homerun

Who were Bob Usher and Peanuts Lowery?
The first an outfielder with the Cubs, the second
with the Reds, Cards and Phils, both coming to
the ball with bodies slightly bent, glove pouch
turned up like a basket about to make the catch

It didn’t matter that Ralph Kiner led the league
in homeruns every year, it was Hoot Evers card
we all wanted because of the name Hoot, which
was one thing, his frontal view after the swing was
another – action and color

Every hear of Mickey Grasso? Probably not, but
a great 1951 Bowman of him in full catcher’s gear
his mitt ready for that fastball or, perhaps, a curve
and a card for a kid’s eye.