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Poetry: World Series

Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky reads from his poem, "The Night Game."

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    Sports and sports heroes can be like a blank screen on which we project our feelings.

    The two great lefthanded pitchers of my youth, White Ford and Sandy Koufax, were like that for me. To my pleasure, Jane Leavy's new biography of Koufax quotes my poem, "The Night Game." Here are some passages from the poem:

    Already famous After one year in the majors, Whitey Ford was drafted by the Army To play ball in the flannels Of the Signal Corps, stationed In Long Branch, New Jersey.

    A night game, the silver potion Of the lights, his pink skin Shining like a burn.

    Never a player I liked or hated: a Yankee, A mere success.

    But white the chalked-off lines In the grass, white and green The immaculate uniform, And white the unpigmented Halo of his hair When he shifted his cap:

    So ordinary and distinct, So close up, that I felt As if I could have made him up, Imagined him as I imagined

    The ball, a scintilla High in the black backdrop Of the sky. Tight red stitches. Rawlings. The bleached

  • Horsehide white:

    the color Of nothing. Color of the past And of the future, of the movie screen At rest and of blank paper.

  • Than Whitey Ford:

    The emerald Theater, the night. Another time, I devised a left-hander Even more gifted a Dodger. People were amazed by him. Once, when he was young, He refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.

    I wish kids who are now the age I was then much pleasure in the World Series.

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