John F. McCullagh
Sixty One - Poem by John F. McCullagh
The season is a marathon and that one, more than most.
The travel was exhausting with two trips out to the coast.
Mickey was the favored son to wear Ruth’s home run Crown
But a bloody abscess in his thigh had taken Mantle down.
Roger Maris was exhausted if the truth were to be told.
He raced Ruth’s ghost all summer; now the air was turning cold.
With the Mick down with an injury, the tension only grew,
as the calendar turned another page and at bats dwindled too.
No pitcher wished to be the one to yield that needed hit,
even if it would be marked down with an asterisk.
The count ran two and “OH’ with Barber in the catbird seat
Tracy Stallard toed the rubber as the catcher called for heat.
Some moments are forever, though, sadly, far too few.
Roger turned upon the ball; towards right field it flew.
It landed in the lower deck as Roger rounded third
It proved to be the winning run as the Yankees blanked the Birds.
I have the photo on my wall as Roger dropped the bat;
the consummate professional, no showboating or act.
He defined grace under pressure; he showed what must be done.
The shadows reach out towards the mound when you hit Sixty-One.
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