Friday, January 20, 2012

Poetry Friday: The First

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Paul Lowry

The First

Jackie Robinson
First African American baseball 
player in the modern era
January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972

I run down 
the line, eight feet, 
nine. . .and feint to feel 
the rush between the third 
baseman’s brush back and home.
Whitey Ford stares through me, a sneak thief 
playing on his disbelief, a phantom blackbird hopping 
on and off 
the dare, flinching,
inching along the ledge
to legend. I time the windup, 
my pistons primed to shovel under
Yogi’s glove. Yankee Stadium is stunned!
But you can hear the cheering all the way from Harlem. 

© J. Patrick Lewis

[This poem will appear in When Thunder Comes: 
Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, Chronicle Books, 2012, 
and is used with the permission of the author.]

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Thank you, Mr. Poetry Ambassador, sir, for sending this poem for us to feature on our blog for Poetry Friday today!

I poked around the Internet a bit to find out some more information about Jackie Robinson, seeing as I'm not any kind of baseball fan.

I found the official Jackie Robinson website.
Here's more about Whitey Ford, pitcher for the Yankees, and Yogi Berra, catcher for the Yankees.
And here's Jackie Robinson stealing home, an amazing and daring move. Yogi Berra's not too happy about it!

Elaine has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Wild Rose Reader. Steal on over and check out the poetry offerings for today!


  1. Oh no! Another book I will have to own! This will be a perfect companion to TEAMMATES and WE ARE THE SHIP.

  2. Thanks for sharing all! I haven't seen the statue before. It's beautiful, like the poem. Must have been both a challenging and an amazing time. I chuckled at your final words!

  3. I'm not too familiar with baseball myself (I've always been a basketball fan - influence of my husband, I admit, who's more the fanatic) - but I enjoyed this verse - I hardly ever get to read poems about sports so it's nice to see so much action in this one. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I am not a baseball person AT ALL, but this poem makes me want to be one. Looking forward to this book! Thanks for the sneak peek!

  5. We did a whole biography unit on Robinson last year,and my respectfor thisman tripled.Thnk you for sharing the poem and all these resources, Mary Lee!

  6. Always a pleasure to read something new by the one and only Pat Lewis. Love how he captured that moment!

    "inching along the ledge to legend" = brilliant

    I've been a Yankee fan from way back, but can't mention this at all when visiting NH relatives, who are diehard Sox fans. Thanks for including the video!

  7. I always love seeing Pat's work--even about baseball:>)

    inching along the ledge
    to legend.

    Oh, those are my favorite words, right there. And that last line. Fantastic!

  8. That is one hell of a poem right there. One of the finer sports poems I've ever read. I'll be promoting this among the baseball communities to which I belong.



  9. Love that! We are all about Jackie Robinson over here. One of our Christmas books was Gail Herman's "Who Was Jackie Robinson"?

  10. One of the greatest moments in American sports history. What a terrific poem. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  11. This poem is wonderful - thanks for sharing, and for the heads-up about the upcoming book.

  12. An acrostic poem no less that really takes you into the heart of the game - I can hear the crowd roar.

  13. My second look at baseball today. Just watched Moneyball. There's a lot of drama in America's pastime.

  14. This blog sounds quite interesting and very interesting game i like.


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