Sports Corner

Giants highs

With San Franciscans relishing our third Giants World Series championship in five years, I wanted to share the following baseball poem that reminds us of the personal heroics, unlikely standouts, and poetic moves that got us to this historic moment.


Mid baseball season,
I drove south,
Little L. in the back seat
Playing Minecraft on the phone;

The temperature jumping every ten miles,
We hooked a left at San Jose,
Heading to minor league ball;

First stop: the Giants AAA team,
highest in their minor leagues,
The Fresno Grizzlies;

No need for windbreakers,
Ski hats, sweatshirts—
Just shorts and a t-shirt:
Baseball weather!

Chuckchansi Park,
Part of Fresno’s revitalization plan,
Easy to stroll into,
$20 for a third-row seat,
The Grizzlies are warming up,

“Oh my gosh,” I tell Little L.,
As I spot,
“You see the guy on first?”;
“That’s Travis Ishikawa.
He was with the Giants in 2010,
When they won the World Series,
I thought he retired”;

A few innings later,
While Little L. romped
On the inflatable slide,
And jumpies,
Beyond right field,
I typed the name Travis Ishikawa,
And the world’s ether,
Informed me:
Giants, Milwaukee,
the Yankees for one single game,
Fifteen games at Pittsburgh in April,
But also:
Fresno, Nashville, Norfolk, Charlotte,
And back to Fresno;
Making Odysseus nod in sympathy;

When do you give up the dream?
When does a baseball organization
Move you away,
For a younger jock coming up?

I stared out
Beyond the left field wall,
Across the street
At the inelegant hand-painted signage
On the bridal shop,
At the circa 1920’s office building
Looming in foul territory
like a monument
From a lost time;

Roger Krieschnick pitched a three-hitter,
Perennial minor leaguer Gary Brown
Got some knocks,
I don’t remember what Travis Ishikawa did;
And now,
Ripe October,
National League Championship Series,
Giants manager Bruce Bochy,
The result of injured outfielders,
Installs Ishikawa in left;

What does Bochy see in Ishikawa
Other than desperation?

Game 5
Bottom of the 9th,
Score tied,
Arias on 3rd, Belt on1st,
1 out;
Michael Wacha
Zips a 2-0 fastball,
Travis Ishikawa
Turns on it,
Bat following through,
The ball rising;

You could say,
Travis Ishikawa won
the 2014 pennant for the San Francisco Giants,
And you would not be wrong.


I can’t believe
I won the lottery
That such an amazing woman consented to marry me,
That Travis Ishikawa smashed a Michael Wacha fastball
Onto the Arcade,
In the bottom of the 9th,
To win the pennant;

T R A V I S I S H I K A W A !

What did the manager with the huge head,
And Brian Sabean,
And assistant General Manager Bobby Evans,
And the rest of the brains and assayers
That I definitely did not;
They’ve known the guy so many seasons,
Performing sort-of, not-so good?

Why N O W,
Why October 2014?
Why why why why why why why why?

I think, partly,
It’s F A I T H,
That a guy can send a 100-mph cowhide ball
In the opposite direction,
Three hundred and eighty feet

Onto the Arcade;
I guess I shouldn’t expect
Every Giant
To be Buster Posey,
Lightning-fast-handed Pablo Sandoval,
Polished baseball star Hunter Pence,
Or gifted Angel Pagan;

In our lives,
We eagerly welcome—
The deli guy who makes a decent sandwich,
The Muni bus driver,
The substitute teacher,
The trash men,
The sportwriters translating a game into 800 words day after day after day after day after day after day,
Truck drivers,
Travis Ishikawa—
They’re the people,
Who turn our world.

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Steve Hermanos is the author of Orange Waves of Giants! The 2012 Championship Season. E-mail: [email protected]