Bryan Harnetiaux Annual Poems
for Eddie Gaedel Day (August 19th)
Baseball’s Glad Lexicon (or “Billy to Eddie to Tom”)
In the beginning was the Billy –
Veeck as in Wreck.
It never was about the winning,
But to find the joy in every inning.
He lived to serve the baseball fan,
And loved to stick it to The Man.
In the end Billy left his mark –
This dreamer and blasphemer.
He imagined ivy on Wrigley’s wall,
And put the games on radio,
There was the riotous Disco Demo Night,
and Harry’s Seventh Inning song,
To which we all still sing along.
And while doing all of that,
He gave us Eddie’s lone at bat.
Billy searched out fun, not fame, renown,
Yet found his way to Cooperstown.
Where have you gone Billy Veeck, you say,
Who’ll make us laugh, get through the day.
But all is fine, it’s my belief
Veeck’s soul lives on in Tommy Keefe!
While “Tinker to Evers to Chance”
Was the mantra of days long gone
Today for a trio with Brio
It’s “Billy to Eddie to Tom.”
*See “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” by Franklin Pierce Adams, first published in
the New York Evening Mail July 12, 1910 under the title “That Double Play Again.”
His life came down to this surprise at bat
He dreamt there might be more as time goes by
He stood three feet and change, from cleat to hat
But longed to reach a height to touch the sky.
The balls speed by him, one by one they sing
He’d cut at any good enough to hit.
But since he promised not to take a swing
Each pitch ends up inside the catcher’s mitt.
He drops his bat and makes his way to first
Just ninety feet and then the journey’s done
He stops and bows to all, though unrehearsed
A walk that takes him far beyond the fun.
Today he’s twice the man he was before
A Giant in the world of baseball lore.
Base Balling in America Chats with Eddie Gaedel
We sat in the bleachers along the right field line
As Base Balling in America nursed a Pabst
and spoke of his lockerroom chat with Eddie.
Before his turn at the plate –
and the four balls he would hear go by.
Of his need to have a feel for this Pastime,
and of the low-grade fever that follows.
Of the arc of history, from the Elysian Fields in Hoboken
to the first game in Japan, and then finally on Mars.
Of the crucible that is the Park, and its symmetry and promise.
With its artifacts – the 108 stitches, tanned and sculpted leather,
centuries-old maple and ash.
Of National and American, balls and strikes, fair and foul, black and white,
good and evil
The Red Stockings, Red Sox, White Sox, and the Black Sox.
Of physics and superstition, routine and ritual, stats and myths –
and, yes, The Infield Fly Rule.
Of the 7th Inning Stretch, and the hungry and thirsty souls,
Here to forget and remember, hope and dream, each rooting their way to exhaustion.
And Base Balling in America saw that Eddie took this all in,
and that he was ready to take his place,
as he ascended the steps to the dugout and then the field.
All are standing now, and Base Balling in America nods towards Eddie in the box and Cain on
the mound, as he lets go the 3-0 pitch –
And, as the spheroid flew, it paused mid-way and winked at us –
Then moved along to meet the Roar.
* A special nod to Richard Brautigan and Trout Fishing in America.
Eddie’s Long Walk
Take me back to St. Louie
Take me back to that day
Tell me the story of Eddie Gaedel
I don't care if it's crazy as hell
For it's Veeck-Veeck-Veeck at his finest
If Eddie don't walk it's a shame
For it's four straight balls and you're on
To the Hall of Fame!
*This poem is meant to be sung to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Cleated, framed by chalk
Four Pfftt-Thwap sounds of Summer
His cap scrapes the sky.
On Eddie Gaedel
August 19, in Fifty-one
You showed us how to walk, not run
Brought us joy that Summer day
Then, in a blink, you went away.
The Game has withered without you around
It’s short on heart, and muscle bound
We’ve let it all get way too big
And lost the fun, and whirligig.
We need you with us, we realize
To cut things back to half their size
Restore the magic we cannot name
The metaphysics of the Game.
And so this bronze and plaque-our altar
You’re not just a rock, Eddie, you’re Gibraltar.
My At Bat, by Eddie Gaedel
Veeck paid me to give the fans some fun,
Please the crowd, help get a run.
I’d walk, an’ then they’d take me out,
This was all it was about.
Bill said he’d shoot me where I stood,
If I dared wave that stick of wood.
But once inside the box, it seems,
It all gives way to boyhood dreams.
See, I stared the pitcher in the eyes,
An’ brought him down to half my size.
Now the press said all the pitches were alike,
Each way too high to be a strike.
Truth is, the first was a bit inside,
The second one a little wide,
The third, not my style, the ump, he missed the call
The fourth most definitely a ball.
So, to this day, the tenor of the accounts still astound me,
The simple fact — they pitched around me.
Poet Laureate, Eddie Gaedel Society
Bryan Harnetiaux has been Playwright-in-Residence at Spokane Civic Theatre since 1982.Over forty of his plays have been produced around the country,thirteen of which are published.His published plays include adaptations of the works of Ernest Hemingway(The Killers,The Snows of Kilimanjaro) and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.(Long Walk to
Forever),and National Pastime-which tells the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey and the breaking of the color line in baseball.
Bryan is honored to serve as Poet Laureate for the Eddie Gaedel Society,Spokane Chapter No.1.As Sir Philip Sidney noted,of all the people in the world poets are the “least liars.”