The Big Man at the Bat

 The hopes were far from bright ones for the Mud Town nine that day;
 The score stood four to two and there was but one round to play.
 And then when old "Zip" died at first, and "Wheel" did much the same,
 A grim hush fell like thin mush on the home fans of the game.

 A few weak souls got up to go with heads hung low. The rest
 Clung to that hope which dies not but lives on in each man's breast;
 They thought if only Big Man could but get a whack at that --
 We'd put up one-to-one odds now with his hands on the bat.

 But Flynn preceded Big Man, as did no good James J. Blake,
 And the first named was a weak sis and the next was but a cake;
 So o'er all heads a black cloud, grim and full of cold rain, sat
 For there seemed no chance at all that Big Man might get to the bat.

 But Flynn legged it to first base, quite a shock to one and all,
 And Blake, who no one cared for, tore the horse hide off the ball;
 And when the dust had gone down, and the men at last could see,
 There was J.J. safe at base two and Flynn camped out on Three.

 Then from each throat and pair of lungs rose up as one a yell;
 It rolled down 'cross the plains and bowled the cows down in the dell;
 It knocked the sides of hills and came to bounce back on the flat,
 For K.C., Big Man K.C., now had his turn at the bat.

 There was such ease in the way he stepped so straight up to his place,
 There was pride in how he stood, and how a smile shone on his face.
 And when as he turned to the cheers and did but doff his hat,
 No strange eye in the crowd could doubt just who was at the bat.

 Stands full of eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
 And all their tongues did laud him when he wiped them on his shirt.
 Then while his lithe foe on the mound ground that ball in his hip,
 A gleam like knights of old shone in his eye and sneer-curled lip.

 And now the hard-packed sphere flew at him through the air,
 The big man stood and watched it like a king who could not care.
 Close by his side, yet he flinched not as to the mitt it sped --
 "That ain't my style," he told us. "Strike one," the score board said.

 From the stands, so full of men and rage there rose an earth quake roar,
 That washed forth like the storm waves on a far and storm-worn shore.
 "Kill him! Kill that blind ump!" came a shout down from the stands,
 And they might have done it, too, had not the Big Man raised his hand.

 With a smile so great and pure which on his clean-cut face then shone;
 He stilled the cries of blood lust; he bade the game go on;
 He waved once to the mound and then once more the horse hide flew;
 But still he paid it no mind and the score board said, "Strike two."

 "Fraud!" cried the crowd as one man, and the far hills rang back 'fraud';
 But one look of scorn from K.C. and the home team fans were awed.
 They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw him flex and strain,
 And they knew that now he would not let that ball go by again.

 The sneer is gone off from his lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
 He pounds hard like a mad zoo ape his ash bat on the plate.
 And now the mound man holds the ball and now he lets it go,
 And now the air is split by all the force that's in his blow.

 Oh! there's a place in this land where the sun shines warm and bright;
 A place where bands play glad tunes, and a place where hearts are light;
 There's a place where men laugh and a place where kids all shout;
 But there is no joy in Mud Town -- Big Man K.C. has struck out.

                                -- E. L. Thayes
                                   (done by Kip W.)