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Philadelphia Baseball by Max Blue

Philadelphia Baseball - Published May 14, 2012


By Max Blue

It's Max's fourth Phillies book, not as many ryhmes as before, but some.

Baseball and poetry are forever mingled in Blue's brain.


(With apologies to William Cullen Bryant

who wrote Thanatopsis in 1817)

Thanatopsis is from the Greek, meaning

a view or contemplation of death.

To those who in the love of Baseball hold

communion with her visible forms, she speaks

a various language; for our lighter hours

she has a voice of walkoff homeruns, and a smile,

and eloquence of beauty, -the 4-6-3 doubleplay -

and she glides into our darker musings - the bases

loaded called third strike - with a mild and healing

sympathy that steals away the sadness, ere we are aware.

So live, that when our summons comes to join

the innumerable caravan of Baseball lovers

who watch their team move to that

mysterious realm where each shall take

their chamber in the silent halls of also-ran,

we go not, like the quarry-slave at night,

scourged by our dungeon; but sustained and soothed

by an unfaltering trust, approach the next season,

like one who wraps the drapery of our couch

about us, and lies down to pleasant dreams

of opening day.


So what's the best thing about Spring?

It's Baseball, that's the main thing.

First pitch on the way soon -

A joyful, winter-slump-breaking tune,

Whose sweet notes will make our heart sing


Take a good look at the cover to this book; in a small nutshell it tells a story about Philadelphia Phillies baseball from its inception in 1883 to the final out in 2011. The first thing that hits your eye is the massive form of current star, Ryan Howard (6'4", 240 pounds); the second is the contrast to 1883 manager and third baseman Blondie Purcell (5'9", 159 pounds). The intent is to convey a sense of change over the 128 years of Phillies' history. The liberty bell is there to remind us that in spite of changes in the players and in the game, some things never change.

That first Phillies team (officially they were the Quakers) won 17 of 98 games; they made 639 errors and had 125 passed balls. Baseball gloves were primitive or non existent, fields were uneven, pitted, and pebbled. The rules of the game in 1883 required the pitcher to deliver the ball from below the waist. Phillies fans need to know these things and more; there is a history here.

Opening day . . . it happens every year about the time the leaves are making their annual comeback, and for a baseball fan what could be better? Your team is at the top of the heap and hope is eternal. In 128 years, the Phillies have opened at home 59 times, winning 25, 18 wins by the brightest stars to ever take the mound for the team - Grover Cleveland Alexander - 1912, 1914, 1915 (shutout), 1916, 1917; Robin Roberts - 1950, 1951, 1955, 1956, 1959; Chris Short - 1965, 1968, 1970 (all three 2-0 shutout wins); Steve Carlton - 1972, 1980, 1984 (shutout); Curt Schilling - 1997 (shutout), 1999. The Phillies are 12-5 in opening day shutouts. Ten of the 59 home openers have gone to extra innings, Phillies losing seven.

Game one in Phillies history, a 4-3 loss to the Providence Grays, was played on Tuesday, May 1, 1883 at Recreation Park, corner of 24th and Ridge Avenue in north Philadelphia. Attendance was near 1,500, less than expected because of pre-season losses to the American Association champion Philadelphia Athletics.

The Phillies have played baseball for 128 years, and a summary of every one of those years is documented in this book. It's all here - the sublime, the very good, the good, the bad, the very bad, and the hard to believe, Harry.

Max Blue must be the world's biggest Phillies fan, based on his poetic expressions of love and frustration with the team over the years.

Read Philadelphia Baseball - (May 2012), Philadelphia's Phillies - Baseball Thrills in Three Centuries  (includes game summaries and daily limericks and for 2009 and 2010 seasons), and Phillies-Journal-1888-2008 (2009)

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