Monday, September 22, 2008

A Poem Closes the Yankee Stadium

bob sheppard taken by richard perry for NYT
I didn't know that Bob Sheppard was a poet. And even though I have never seen a game in Yankee Stadium, and although I am not a huge fan of baseball, it was touched to read in the NY Times this morning that a poem closed the park.

I hope a poem opens the new stadium across the street in April.

And though it is not what 99% of poetry people would call "good" poetry, I think it is the best kind of poetry in that it captures and calcifies in memory the sentiments of a huge group of people.

Farewell old Yankee Stadium, farewell
What a wonderful story you can tell
DiMaggio, Mantle, Gehrig and Ruth
A baseball cathedral in truth

I really love how the person hearing the story changes from line 2 to 3. At first it's we who would hear the stadium's story, but then it's baseball's brightest stars in the afterlife. Thus, the spirit of the thing tells stories instead of the stadium itself, making Yankee Stadium one of the stars of baseball, whose passing is mourned and whose spirit is praised. And where do we praise spirits? Cathedrals. So the poem says farewell to all of them and an era that, no matter how little interest you have in baseball, is quaintly nostalgic and seemingly more virtuous and innocent. It's a very elegant little poem, really. Bob Sheppard, who has been the voice of the baseball cathedral for 57 of his 97 years, deserves an equally elegant eulogy when he joins his fellow icons of a better age.

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