A Celebration of an American Hero - July 22, 2002
Adapted by Dick Flavin
(With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Red Sox nine that day,
The score stood four to two with but one inning left to play.
So when Stephens died at first and Tebbetts did the same
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest
With the hope that springs eternal within the human breast.
They thought if only Teddy could get a whack at that --
They'd put even money now with Teddy at the bat.
But Dom preceded Teddy and Pesky was on deck.
The first of them was in a slump. The other was a wreck.
So on that stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Teddy's getting to the bat.
But Dom let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And Pesky, of all people, tore the cover off the ball.
When the dust had lifted, and they saw what had occurred,
There was Johnny safe on second and Dominic on third.
Then from that gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell.
It rumbled in the mountains and rattled in the dell.
It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat,
For Teddy, Teddy Ballgame, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Teddy's manner as he stepped into his place.
There was pride in Teddy's bearing and a smile on Teddy's face.
And when, responding to the cheers he lightly doffed his hat,
(I'm making that part up)
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Teddy at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he wiped his hands with dirt,
Five thousand tongues applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
Then when the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Teddy's eyes, a sneer curled Teddy's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Teddy stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped.
"That ain't my style," said Teddy. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
From the benches black with people went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on the stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" someone shouted on the stand,
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Teddy raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Teddy's visage shown.
He stilled the rising tumult and bade the game go on.
He signaled the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew.
But Teddy still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two!"
"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered fraud.
But one scornful look from Teddy and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Teddy wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Teddy's lip; his teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds with cruel vengeance his bat upon the plate.
An now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Teddy's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this land of ours the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout.
And they're going wild at Fenway Park 'cause Teddy hit one out!
First recited by Dick Flavin for Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky
Ted's home in Hernando, Fla.
October 23, 2001
Repeated at Memorial Tribute to Ted Williams
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
July 22, 2002