Robert Fillman

Beatty and Votteler (American, 1880–1900) Baseball Scene, 1880–1900 American, Colored lithograph; Sheet: 6 1/4 × 5 1/16 in. (15.8 × 12.9 cm) Image: 4 5/16 × 3 3/4 in. (11 × 9.5 cm)


One pitch a little too high
and inside, Bobby Smiegel,
who had been on the losing

end of it, both on the field
and at home, mulling the sting
of that rubber ball, so much

like his father’s belt smacking
the backs of his thighs, how he
couldn’t duck out of the way,

how boys laughed at his squeals
as he writhed on the ground in pain,
it took no more than seconds

for him to snap, all of that
hurt from Bobby’s heart channeled
into that bat, exploding

with a single swat against
a tree, which could have been one
of us on his knees begging

for his life, the others all
watching in horror what might
have been, as rumor has it,

one barrel later exchanged
for another, but back then
we couldn’t have known how close
Bobby was to his final out.

Robert Fillman is the author of the chapbook November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poems have recently appeared in Nashville ReviewPoet LoreSugar House ReviewTar River PoetryValparaiso Poetry Review and others. He has a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and is currently an Assistant Professor at Kutztown University.

The American National Game of Base Ball- Grand Match for the Championship at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, N. J. 1866 Currier & Ives

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Spring 2021