My Casey Candaele poem

It being the least I could do for the '88 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up

After William Matthews

They say that great hitters are born, and never made.
While most like a rainbow, the graceful confluence

Of sharp convex vision and frictionless dexterity
That defines a .370 hitter is nothing

More than luck. Ted Williams will boast--as if were to him a self-
Taught credit--that he saw the umber dot of spinning laces

As the pitches barreled homeward. I am amazed, but not
At Williams. Of course not; his birthdate showered him with stars.

Casey Candaele's squat frame rests on slow
Wheels. He's been known to slump

At the plate, and his arm launches no
Bombs. Each spring he struggles for a job

Against those cat-like rookies. But by Opening Day,
He's earned the roster spot, and talent scouts wonder why.

I know his pictures in the field decorate
My scrapbooks, his jerky shoulders square to meet

The grounder, his elbows locked, his taut wrists crossed
At the crotch, and his glove at the precise

Position between his legs he's learned one
Hundred thousand times, these things still unnatural

To him. You see it, see the internal force required
Etched with sweat and labored instruction into his face.

And then, beyond my snapshots, the motion never easy,
But always quick, he coaxes the ball into his ungifted

Glove, and heaves the wooden throw in coached concentration;
Another chance, another goddamned out. Avoid the

Error; do the job; his grim unathletic
Body once again having somehow shined

With the sour intensity of pure effort,
And the furnace blast of his rageful desire.

'89 ProCards Tuscon Toros # 197

93 Upper Deck # 294

CNN/SI'S Candaele page

Back to Astroland

'99 Multi Ad Sports New Orleans Zephyrs # 4
His last card, I think

please don't steal my poem