Friday, December 23, 2011

Steve Christmas to all, and to all holiday-inspired lethargy!

Dear Great Names in Baseball readers:

In lieu of our annual imaginary Christmas letter, please enjoy this epic poem account of Steve Christmas' lone major league home run as a member of the Chicago White Sox in September 19, 1984, contest against the Minnesota Twins.

'Twas the night of Steve Christmas, when all through the 'dome1
Most players were napping, just longing for home;
Much effort, most players would scarcely spend
As they waited for 1984's campaign to end2;
Mike Smithson took his tosses at the crest of the mound,
And in the dugout, Tony LaRussa wore a trademark frown.
Fisk wore his street shoes, while Marc Hill donned the gear,
And Kittle the DH cracked open a beer3.

When on the fake lawn there arose such a clatter,
Yet Twins fans scarcely bothered to see the matter.
Smithson swore loudly, as in a short burst
Greg Walker doubled home two runs in the first.
Bannister followed with four shutout innings,
But the ballgame, you see, was only beginning.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer
With Tim Laudner batting, neither lively nor quick,
The Twins evened the game with one stroke of his stick.

More rapid than eagles the scoring now came,
And the doers, some still remembered by name:
"Now, Jose Cruz! Now, Rudy Law! Now, Hairston and Baines!
On, Gaetti! On Teufel! Brunansky, more names!"
To the seventh, game tied, the Sox get two on;
But with two outs on whom would Tony summon?
When, what should appear to Sox fans so listless,
But backup-backup catcher Steve Christmas!
He strode to the plate to bat in a pinch,
To hopefully be the ballgame's ubermensch.

And soon, in a growling, I heard the ump call
That the count had two strikes and also three balls
As I went to the kitchen for a mid-game snack,
Smithson's pitch down the middle was met with a crack.
Christmas felt the impact, from his head to his foot,
And the ball sailed over the fence for now and for good.
Christmas rounded the bases for the first time that day,
While Kittle indifferently guzzled away.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

Steve came to the dugout expecting hero praise,
But scarcely an eyebrow was seen to be raised.

He thought it to be a rookie prank of some kind,
But the season's disappointment soon changed his mind.
Kittle had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
Christmas sat down beside him as the Sox scored again,
Hoping Kittle would maybe become a new friend.
But Ron had seen enough kids play and flop,
To waste his breath on this young backstop.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Of emptying his Budweiser and acting a jerk.

And just when Christmas thought he'd get no joy,
Fisk finally sauntered over to give an "attaboy."
Then Kittle caved and Christmas cheered Bannister
And Ronny boy offered to split a brew cannister.
Chicago held on to win by four tallies,
In what would be the last Christmas rally.
But I heard Kittle say, ere to the minors he sinks,
Steve Christmas to all, and to all have a drink!

1 The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, once home to the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings, the University of Minnesota football team and hearing loss

2 The White Sox 1984 season was a letdown after the Sox won the American League West title in 1983.

3 There is no indication that Ron Kittle ever drank in the dugout or during a game. But since he went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts in this game, I'm taking some creative liberties with the game's narrative. It's not unheard of.

No comments:

Post a Comment