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Monday, November 2, 2015

Lineup for Yesterday, written by Ogden Nash and illustrated by C.F. Payne. Creative Editions, Raincoast. 2011. $26.99 all ages

"G is for Gehrig,
The Pride of the Stadium;
His record pure gold,
His courage, pure radium.

*Henry Louis Gehrig
Position: First Baseman
Major-League Seasons: 1923-39
Team: New York Yankees."

While the NFL is in full swing, NHL teams are on the ice in head-to-head battles for early season wins, and NBA basketball is keeping fans focused on their television sets, baseball fans are also glued to their sets to watch the battle for the World Series pennant. It's November already and the winner is not yet declared. It's what we wait for every year ... through the preseason games, and a long season, to the postseason and this grand finale. A baseball fan's dream, for sure. I finished this post as the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series in 30 years ... now, that's an accomplishment!

Ogden Nash was a huge baseball fan and penned poetry for some of the legends of the game. He wrote the poems in 1949 with humor and admiration for some of the greats who were playing at the time, or had played earlier. I must admit to learning about players I had not known. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are here. That was a comfort.

In an introduction, Mr. Nash's daughter Linell shares her own love of the game that so excited her father. His passion started with his own father and their baseball outings, then continued when sharing that love with his own family:

"We always sat on the first base side, a lineup of Nashes - my father, my sister Isabel, me, and my mother Frances. Both my parents kept score faithfully and taught Isabel and me the intricacies of doing so ourselves. I still equate Tinker to Evers to Chance with a 6-4-3, and the letter "K" will always remind me of Casey's disastrous third strike."

Their father shared much concerning those famous players that he so loved to watch. Some were immortalized in the short, often humorous poems gathered here. Except for one, each of the players has been honored with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Following his death, they were annually shared by broadcaster Larry King.

" ... Mother would look forward to Larry King's annual recitation of "Lineup for Yesterday" on late-night radio at the opening of each baseball season."

The twenty-four poems that fill  these pages are accompanied by wonderful close-ups of each player. C. F. Payne uses mixed media to add interest and context for the time in which they wielded their athletic prowess. Accompanying each is a player description, giving full name, position, seasons played, teams, batting and throwing preferences, height, weight, and career stats. Then, after the inclusion of 3-4 poems, the author provides further detailed information about each player presented.

A perfect gift for the ardent baseball fan!

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