Baseball season is here,
bringing thoughts of hot dogs, beer . . .
My poem "The Million Dollar Infield" appears in the latest issue of Spitball, The Literary Baseball Magazine. Name the members of the million dollar infield and the positions they played and win a free baseball book written by me.
Spitball . . . the little magazine at the intersection of saliva and horsehide.
Boyer, Groat, Javier and White—
they were called the “Million Dollar Infield”
because in those innocent days
it was thought remarkable that their
combined salaries crossed the seven-figure
mark that wouldn’t buy a slow-footed
DH off the waiver wire today.
I saw a picture of Bill White one time,
stretching for a low throw further than
I thought humanly possible. He was dark,
and quiet, and dignified, and taught you
then and later that one could be an
athlete, and yet more than that. No hot dog,
no blowhard, like so many big first basemen.
At second, Julian Javier, who brought the Latin
tongue to the mouth of Harry Caray. There
was hope, Hoolie’s example said, for the
bespectacled young among us. You could
have four eyes and still make it to the bigs,
maybe even start, and help win a World Series
with a seventh-game home run, as he did in ‘67.
At short, Dick Groat, a guy who looked like my
dad; white, receding hairline--old. You figured the
Pirates knew he was done when they traded him,
offending his pride, but he wouldn’t quit, and was
almost MVP in ’63, behind Koufax. Just when
they underestimate you, his bat seemed to say,
that’s the time when you should make ‘em pay.
Ken Boyer played third, my position; I met him
one time at the Missouri State Fair, hawking some
contraption designed to make you a better hitter.
I wanted that thing, a plastic ball on a pinwheel you
could hit all day without chasing, but my old man
said no. “Did Stan the Man need it?
Just keep your eye on the ball,” he said.
He’d come of age in the days when
.400-hitting giants walked the earth,
and didn’t know what they were worth.