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Old Matty Still a Winner

From the Evening Star, October 9, 1913.

His feeble form was bent with years; his eyes were dull and dim;
The inroads of advancing age had made a wreck of him.
He slowly hobbled to the box, while forty thousand men
In pity murmured, “Poor old guy; he’ll never pitch again.
Tell John McGraw to take him out—John oughta have a heart!
A broken-down old chap like that should never even start.
We want to beat a live one, so’s we’ll know we’ve earned the game.
To knock about that doddering wreck is just a crying shame.”

Old Matty shuffled to the box and stroked his wrinkled brow;
The dank wind swept through his thin locks with many a mournful sough.
He clicked his loose and scanty teeth, he flexed his palsied arm,
And smiled a space at Connie Mack to show he meant no harm.
One pleading glance at John McGraw he cast, as if to say,
“Why must you show me up in this humiliating way?”
He read no pity in that face, no mercy, no compassion,
So he proceeded to blow up in this distressing fashion:

A spiral ball he wound around the end of Baker’s bat,
And when that Titan savagely upon his digits spat,
And swung to drive the pellet toward the cloud-bespangled blue,
The umpire in a thin, small voice observed these words: “Strike two!”
To crib a classic, one more ball: “Ah, somewhere, children shout,
But here in Phil delight is nil—great Baker has struck out!”

For nine long rounds he let ‘em hit, provided they would drop ‘em
Around in those localities where sundry G’ints could stop ‘em.
For nine long rounds, when dawned the hope that some one’d make a run,
He added just a pinch of dope and fanned ‘em, one by one.
Sometimes they’d whiff; sometimes they’d bunt; again he’d let ‘em clout;
But ere they cantered forth from third he passed and put ‘em out.
And even weakened Quakertown repressed its thirst for rage
And owned that he’d done fairly well, considering his age.

Now, in the books which we have read we oft have noted that
One thing is true beyond dispute—a pitcher cannot bat.
And so when our poor senile friend, nine innings being o’er,
Stepped to the rubber in the tenth we shuddered to the core.
“McGraw should spare him this,” we wailed, “he’s kept alive somehow,
He’s even fluffed E. Collins twice, so why disgrace him now?”
But ere this tense and troubled trial of thought had well begun
He slugged a sizzling single and brought in the winning run!

Poor, senile, broken-down old man! We knew he couldn’t last!
His part should be to sit and mourn the misty, vanished past.
To pile in shrill and trembling tones about that ancient day
When he and Anson used to teach the youngsters how to play.
We thought he’d sit upon the bench and watch with rheumy eye
The game, and tell us of the curves he pitched in times gone by.
But now our eyes turn forward, and we wonder with a thrill
If in the fall of ’33 we’ll see him winning still!

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