by Bob Raczka
An excerpt from Joy in Mudville.
As Joy, the rookie hurler,
Took the mound to pitch relief,
Some twenty thousand fans
Stared down in silent disbelief.
What struck them dumb
Was not the unknown’s anonymity.
It was the fact that Joy
(The rookie’s first name) was a she.
Her hair was short and leather brown.
Her eyes were grassy green.
And like a rack of fungo bats,
Her limbs were long and lean.
She used her spikes to groom the mound,
Then blew a big pink bubble,
As if to say, “I’m just the guy
To pitch us out of trouble.”
The crowd turned rude and booed,
But Joy pretended not to hear.
Deep down, she knew she’d have to
Prove herself before they’d cheer.
Because she was a girl, the fans
Assumed she’d come up short.
She’d show them soon enough that girls
Excel in many sports.
Copyright © 2014 Bob Raczka. From the book Joy in Mudville. Carolrhoda Picture Books. Reprinted by permission of the author.
I’ve been a Cubs fan all my life, and played a lot of baseball as a boy. My favorite position was pitcher. I have often dreamed about inventing a new pitch that no one has ever thought of before, then using it to pitch my Cubbies to a World Series victory. This book, which is a sequel to the poem, Casey at the Bat, is probably as close as ever I’ll come to making that dream come true.
Author of the popular art appreciation series, Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures, native Chicagoan Bob Raczka studied art and graphic design in college. He has worked as an advertising writer for more than 25 years.
A few years ago he “discovered” poetry, and now Bob calls himself a children’s poet as well. His first poetry effort, Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys, was awarded the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry by Bank Street College. His second poetry book, Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, was named both an ALA and an NCTE Notable.
Bob’s upcoming poetry books include Joy in Mudville, a sequel to Casey at the Bat, a collection of haiku written by Santa, and a collection of clerihews about the Presidents.