in the Junior Baseball League in 1950.
Twice divorced, without children,
Howdy liked his Schlitz too much.
Our team was his only other pleasure,
but we were taking our licks
at the bottom of the standings,
embarrassed and blaming our manager.
Gus Thurman arranged a petition
for Howdy to be replaced and
brought it around to our houses.
Of course we won our next game.
Howdy was boisterous and thrilled.
After he thanked the umpire and
shook hands with the losing manager,
he turned with a smile to his team.
Just then—at that very moment—
Thurman handed him our petition.
Howdy read it carefully, studied all
our signatures. When finally he raised
his stricken face, we were all looking
at him from the bench, our mouths open
like a row of empty, baby swallows.
It was dusk and shadows were long.
Our girlfriends waited and watched,
their tawny legs crossed in the bleachers.
A distant freight, full from the mills,
whiffed its way through the switches
out of town. A covey of dirty wrappers
flapped up across the first base line.
The neon sign in the window
of the Cricket Bar and Grill
across the Eighth Street bridge
blinked once, then came on full.