William F Kirk

Cricket World Cup is underway where there is not much separating the top six teams. Baseball Spring training is also underway with hope springing eternal, except in perhaps the Pittsburgh Pirate fans. Since I am a fan of both the events, and what they represent, I present this poem from William F Kirk, a baseball writer and humorist from early 1900s. The poem is among a collection of baseball ballads titled Right Off the Bat that was published in 1911 and very recently released on Proect Gutenburg, a site I am utterly addicted to. It presents a simple and humorous contrast in the spirit with which the two sports are played, or more specifically Kirk’s notion of that spirit from back then. Cricket has tried desperately to cling on to the nature of mannerly Captain Edgerton (must have been a stereotype even in 1911) while baseball managers have changed little since Manager McDuff.

Cricket And Baseball by William F Kirk

The cricket game was over and the sun was sinking low,
    The players in their blazers plodded homeward in a row.
They stopped within the clubhouse for a final cup of tea,
    When up spake Captain Edgerton to Bowler Basil Fee:

“Jolly well tried, old chap!
    You lost as the greatest can;
But whether you win or whether you lose
    You’re always a gentleman.
Have a Scotch and soda, old fellow–
    It will drive off the blooming blues;
Keep up your stride, you jolly well tried,
    And a man can’t always lose.”

The baseball game was over and the home team had been skinned,
    The players slunk across the field while sundry knockers grinned;
They hurried to the clubhouse for a bath and change of garb,
    When up spake Manager McDuff, and each word was a barb:

“Fine lot of high-priced athletes!
    Most of you ain’t alive!
I could pick a team from the Soldiers’ Home
    And beat you four out of five.
Be out here at ten to-morrow–
    That goes the way that it lays;
Any mixed-ale sport that doesn’t report
    Will squat on the bench ten days!”