An Ode To The Old Wooden Bat
Wednesday - May 13, 2009
I’m excited about the upcoming WAC baseball tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii May 21-24 at Les Murakami Stadium. It’s the first WAC tourney in Manoa since the heyday of Rainbow baseball in the early 1990s.
As a longtime fan, I’m looking forward to big crowds and highly competitive games. More than anything I’m charged up about Hawaii baseball this season.
College baseball has really changed since I played the games back in the early 1970s.
Generations of youngsters who have grown up with the aluminum bat probably don’t realize how much the subtleties of the tradition-rich sport used to dominate the game.
As I sit watching baseballs fly out of the stadium in a college baseball tournament contest where the aluminum bat is the main weapon - and unlike the pros, the only weapon of choice in most college and high school baseball leagues these days - it makes me long for the days when the wooden bat was king.
So, with apologies to that great musical poet Paul Simon, I ask:
Oh, where have you gone, old graceful wooden bat of old?
The wonderful weapon of my youth
Replaced by shiny aluminum
So powerful, yet so game-changing
Where have you gone, scores of 2 to 1 and 1 to 0
And Earned Run Averages in the 1s and 2s
You’ve been relegated to
the double digits of today
Where 15 to 11 efforts fill up the college and high school scorecards
Where have you gone, the days when batting averages of .275 were the sign of a good hitter?
Why now does it now take a .450 average to lead the league?
Where have you gone, oh valued Texas Leaguer, nubber down the third base line, and sacrifice bunt called in the early innings?
Where have you gone, not only Joe Dimaggio, but the good old days of Beaver Cleaver and Ricky and Ozzie Nelson and Peggie Sue and Elvis?
Oh, the magnificent sound you made
You filled my summertime ears with joy
That unmistakable sound of horsehide on good wood
The thwack, the knock, the jack, the sock
You were replaced by a vibrating sound so hard on the ears
By that tinny sound of aluminum
The mighty - ping! Say it ain’t so, but it is
Where have you gone, old friend?
Bathed to the bat handle in sticky tar
Wrapped up lovingly, when broken,
With gobs of tape, you could be mine until you broke again
Where have you gone, oh pureness of baseball?
When designated hitters had no place in the lineup
Where have you gone, oh sound of my youth
My dear, dear friend, my wooden bat?
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