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Bill Roberts

The Unwelcome Right Fielder - 1961

It was my second season in New York
as a Yankee fan, having long been tormented
by them as a diehard Senators' backer in D.C.,
where the Washington baseball club was mauled
regularly by the visiting New York thugs.

I finally relented, went out to intimidating
Yankee Stadium, got a great seat near first base
to watch the Yanks host the Cleveland Indians.
It was late summer, just a few weeks before
Roger Maris turned twenty-seven.

He had three hits that day, the Yankee superstar,
Mickey Mantle, two himself -- Mickey cheered
wildly for his singles, Roger booed roundly
each time he came up, swung his awesome bat.
New York fans detested the presence of Maris.

Why? After being traded from Kansas City,
Roger started overshadowing their beloved
hero, The Mick, one of the greatest ballplayers
of all time, a hero of mine as well. So,
I asked, why not two superheroes in pinstripes?

That particular game, Roger made a leaping
catch of a line drive, sure home run, that would
have won the game for the Indians, toppling crazily
into the field-level right field stands, struggling
upright, ball in glove, to the fans' angry boos.

That year, Maris committed an even great sin:
he broke Babe Ruth's sacred home run record.

©2012 by Bill Roberts

Bill Roberts has had over a thousand poems published online and in the small press, some nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. He annually sponsors readings to salute female poets ("Strong Voices, Strong Women"), this year to benefit battered women of the Safehouse Alliance in Colorado.

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