The Season That Inspires Poetry

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - October 11, 2006
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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

... Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them thou hast thy music, too.

Do you think Keats was a sports fan when he wrote the Ode to Autumn? Obviously, it would be a stretch to think so. The noble poet never saw a college football game or a Major League Baseball contest and never even gave either of them a notion.

But he sure knew how special this time of year is - especially for sports fans anyway. When the leaves turn colors on the Mainland and the cool breezes come down through Halawa - that’s when we really know its autumn.

Could it be that the bosom friend of the maturing son is the armchair quarterback or the bleacher bum in the right field seats? OK, that’s pushing the metaphor a bit too far.

But autumn-especially the month of October during this special season-is a time when you can rally around your television set and watch football games from sunup to sun-down. It’s also a time when you can reach into the deep recesses of your sports memory and conjure up images of football and baseball seasons’ past. Sometimes the best parts of both seasons are playing simultaneously.

I got to thinking about the beauty of autumn on a recent Saturday evening at Aloha Stadium. As I watched the June Jones offense march efficiently down the field under the great leadership of Colt Brennan, watching the right-handed gunslinger making perfect throw after perfect throw, it made me realize just how much I love this game.

When you add the fleet feet of Davone Bess and Jason Rivers and the nimble toes of Nate Ilaoa, when you consider the reckless defense of Leonard Peters, and aggressiveness of the Jerry Glanville defense, you can almost understand why Keats knew that the thatch-eves are running.

The memories of autumn’s past are strong, too.

I can see them all so vividly - images of Chad Owens spinning down the field on another punt or kickoff return, of Jeff Sydner doing his Heisman pose, or Garrett Gabriel lifting the football aloft after finishing off a second-straight rout of BYU. The great hands of Ashlie Lelie, the big hits of Travis Laboy, the heart of Nate Jackson; it’s always been great to be a Rainbow Warrior fan.

And those are just local memories.

I can also see my mind’s TV screen flicker as Doug Flutie hits another Hail Mary touchdown pass, Vince Young scrambles for another winning score, and that Stanford trombone player never ceases getting flattened in the end-zone. The images never dim, from Columbus, Ohio to Pasadena, California.

And Keats didn’t know anything about the foul ball or the designated hitter rule or how to figure a pitcher’s ERA, much less slugging percentage, but a real ode to autumn wouldn’t be complete without baseball. That television set in my mind also has plenty of baseball highlights, especially October playoff and series memories.

I can still see Bill Mazeroski fighting off throngs of adoring fans as he rounds third base on his way to an improbable Pirates victory in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, and has it really been more than three decades since Carlton Fisk “pushed” his high fly ball fair down left field line and danced up the first base line with his arms extended skyward. If you play the re-runs in your head, you don’t have to ask why they called Reggie Jackson “Mr. October or why the image of Kirk Gibson pumping his fist as he limped around the bases led legendary announcer Joe Buck to scream “I don’t believe what I just saw!” I could go on and on. So, I’m sure, could you.

Oh, to Autumn. It doesn’t get any better than this time of year.

Keats was right.

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