Carpenter At the Bat

April 17, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Matt Carpenter (13) hits a game winning sacrifice fly against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Reds 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

The outlook was growing cloudy for the Redbird Nine last night:

The score had been one to zero, but the defense lost the fight.

And then when Holly popped to first, and Berkman did the same,

A nervous silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

-

A straggling few got up to leave; work in the morning called,

The rest still stayed and hoped and cheered each strike and every ball.

They thought, if only we could find an extra inning hero,

We could forget the gloves that cost Kyle Lohse his zero.

-

There was a man named Carpenter who seemed to fit the bill,

But he was sitting on the bench, a rather bitter pill.

So upon that thronging multitude a desperate longing sat,

To see a hero from the dugout rise and take his turn at bat.

-

Mr. Freeze was first to bat and worked a walk to first,

Replaced by Tyler, fleet of foot, and with a stealer's burst.

Molina bunted, the pitcher threw, and when the play was done,

The crowd saw Greene on second, representing the winning run.

-

Strategic wheels were turning fast in Dusty Baker's mind,

He put four fingers in the air and Jay got four out wide.

In came Billy Bray when Dusty gave the lefty sign,

Then Dirty Dan came up and took four balls to shine.

-

From 40,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell,

It rattled down through Soulard and far over to Lindell.

It knocked upon the brewery and recoiled off 55,

For Carpenter, Matty Carpenter, came to keep hope alive.

-

There was ease in Matty's manner as he stepped into his place,

There was pride in Matty's bearing and a certain willowed grace.

And when, responding to the cheers, he waved a gloveless hand,

There was no doubt in any mind that Carpenter was the man.

-

A million eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with tar,

A million tongues applauded when he dug in for his war.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

A calmness shown in Matty's eyes, a zen like smile turned up his lip.

-

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Matty stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-

"That ain't my style," said Matty. "Strike one," the umpire said.

-

From the stands all red with sherseys there arose a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand,

And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Carpenter raised his hand.

-

With a smile of Buddhist charity great Matty's visage shone,

He stilled the rising tumult and he bade the game go on.

The pitcher threw a slider low to even up the count,

Then came with heat and Matty swung, a foul ball up and out.

-

"No!" groaned the maddened thousands; it echoed far and near,

But he dug back in unworried, two strikes for him held no fear.

Another slider for a ball, then a heater on the ground,

Then another foul and it was clear that Carp had come around.

-

The smile is gone from Matty's lip, his focus is pristine,

His callused hands they squeeze the bat as tight as ever seen.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered with the force of Matty's blow.

-

Oh somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.

And somewhere men are laughing, children shout into the night,

There is joy here in St. Louis, Mighty Carpenter flew to right.

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