Jul. 2, 2001

the old pinch hitter

by Charles Bukowski

Monday, 2 July 2001
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Poem: "the old pinch hitter," by Charles Bukowski from Open All Night (Blade Sparrow Press).

the old pinch hitter

comes out of the dugout in the last of the 9th.
2 out. the winning run on 2nd base.
he's 7-for-20 in this young season: .350
he walks slowly to the plate, seems relaxed but
deliberate. faces a fireballing young pitcher
18 years younger than he is.
takes ball one. ball two. fouls off
the next two. then runs it to 3-and-2.
the fireballer gets his sign, checks 2nd
blazes it in as the runner goes
the perfect pitch
the perfect strike
knee-high and inside:
nobody can handle it:
a solid liner between 1st and 2nd
the runner from 2nd scores.
the old pinch hitter touches first
then turns and walks slowly toward
the dugout.
another night's work.
that shower is going to feel

It's the birthday of the American novelist Elizabeth Graver, born in Los Angeles in 1964. Her first book was a collection of short stories called Have You Seen Me?, which was about a girl who makes up stories about the missing children pictured on milk cartons. Her first novel was called Unravelling, and it is set in the 19th century mill-town of Lowell, Massachusetts.

It was on this day in 1961 that Ernest Hemingway took his own life with a shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. A year earlier, he'd been forced to leave his home in Cuba, and he had become paranoid and depressed. He was suffering from writer's block and had twice gone to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for electroshock therapy. About a decade earlier, in The Old Man and the Sea, he wrote: "A man can be destroyed but not defeated."

It was on this day in 1937 that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from New Guinea, headed for Howland Island on an around-the-world trip. They disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and were never seen again.

It's the birthday of children's author Jean Craighead George, born in Washington, D.C., in 1919. She is best known for My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves. They were both based on her childhood with her naturalist parents, and George grew up spending a lot of time outdoors.

It's the birthday of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908. He was named "Thoroughgood" after a grandfather, but he changed his name in grade school because he was tired of spelling it out.

It's the birthday of the theater director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, in 1900. He was an announcer for the BBC and then started to write plays for radio. He became a major director at the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells theaters in London during the 1930s. He directed operas in the 1940s, some of which include Carmen and Peter Grimes, performed at the Metropolitan Opera. He established the Shakespeare festival in Ontario in 1953, and 10 years later opened the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

It's the birthday of the photographer André Kertész, born in Budapest in 1894. In 1928, he bought a small handheld Leica camera and used it to capture the cultural life of Paris during the 1930s. His greatest photographs were images of ordinary life, often taken from the balcony of his apartment overlooking Washington Square Park in New York.

It's the birthday of the novelist Hermann Hesse, born in Calw, Germany, in 1877. He was a pacifist, he suffered a mental breakdown during World War I, and underwent psychoanalysis. The experience found its way into his novel Demian. He was also fascinated with Eastern philosophy and wrote Siddartha, which was based on the early life of Buddha. Some of his other works include Steppenwolf, and Narcissus and Goldmund.

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