In the locker room before handball Monday afternoon, my doubles partner Marshall and I were discussing the Oregon-Kent State series.
Monday’s deciding game, won by Kent State to send the Golden Flashes to the College World Series, was under way, and my friend was recounting how on Sunday the Ducks had scored enough “points” in game two to force a game three.
“Marshall,” I said. “It’s ‘runs.’”
“Runs, points, whatever; Oregon got enough of whatever it needed to win,” he said.
Marshall, a good handball player and all-around learned guy, is far from the first person to run afoul of a pet peeve of mine by not referring to baseball’s scoring units by their proper name. He’s just the most recent.
Last summer at a Corvallis Knights game, one of the GT photographers was talking to my daughter Pam and me about the points one team or another had just tallied.
Heck, one of my high school teammates, a very powerful athlete if not the shrewdest baseball mind around, exclaimed in frustration one day how he was tired of “losing all these games by one point.”
I opted not to correct him. He was a pretty nice guy, but he was also sort of crazy, and in his riled-up state I feared there weren’t enough people around to pull him off me if my correction had caused him to snap.
A couple other baseball notes before we close for now:
– Congratulates to little, unheralded Stony Brook for punching out LSU and advancing to the College World Series. Stony Brook sounds like the name of a dairy or nursing home or mental hospital, but hey, the Seawolves did, twice, what Oregon State couldn’t do by beating LSU in Baton Rouge.
– Knowing how I favor hitters who unlike me use the whole field (I pull 95 percent of the balls I put in play to the right side; I’d prefer not to, but it just sort of works out that way), a friend shared the poem you are about to read. It’s by the late George E. Phair, a sportswriter in the first half of the 20th century, and I’d heard it recited years earlier as part of a documentary called “When it was a Game.” I think it’s a cute piece of verse, so I am sharing it here.
It’s called “The Old-Fashioned Batter”:
How dear to my heart was the old-fashioned batter
Who scattered line drives from the spring to the fall.
He did not resemble the up-to-date batter
Who swings from his heels and then misses the ball.
The up-to-date batter I’m not very strong for;
He shatters the ozone with all of his might.
And that is one reason I hanker and long for
Those who doubled to left, and tripled to right.
The old-fashioned batter,
The eagle-eyed batter,
The thinking-man’s batter,
Who tripled to right.