A Pitching Poem to Honor a Pitching Great

Mariano Rivera in his last All Star game

Mariano Rivera in his last All Star game

Sports Saturday

It was inspiring to see Mariano Rivera applauded in Tuesday’s All-Star game. I say this as someone who has probably rooted for Rivera to lose every time I’ve ever watched him, given that he has pitched for the hated Yankees and I am a Baltimore Orioles fan. Nevertheless, I had to acknowledge that, as one of the greatest closing pitchers in the history of the game, he had brought a kind of majesty to the position.

The Panamanian player has been to 13 All Star Games. This will be the last as he is retiring from baseball at the end of the season. Appropriately, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning to help preserve the win for the American League.

I’ve been trying to find a good poem about pitching in honor of the occasion and thought of the fabled epigram

Spahn and Sain and pray for rain

I hadn’t realized, until checking Wikipedia, that the line was originally part of a longer poem written by Boston Post sports editor Gerald V. Hern in a September 14, 1948 column when the Cardinals were still in Boston. Warren Spahn is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in the history of the game, while in 1948 Johnny Sain went 24-15.

Here’s the poem in its entirety:

First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

I think the shortened version is the superior one—it’s a manager’s dilemma distilled down to its pithy essence—but it’s fun to see where it came from.

If the manager  had had Rivera, he might not have needed rain.

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