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Chris at the Bat

Is there joy in Royalville?

Mighty Chris in action
Mighty Chris in action
Christian Petersen

With a nad-tap to Ernest Thayer:

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Royalville nine that day:
The score stood 1 to 0, with but innings more to play.
And then when Francoeur died at first, and Nady did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, all in deep despair
The rest clung to hope, and offered up a prayer
They thought, if only Chris could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Chris at the bat.

Then from tens of throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Chris, mighty Chris, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Chris's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Chris's bearing and a smile on Chris's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Chris at the bat.

A hundred eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
A few more tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Chris's eye, a sneer curled Chris's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Chris stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Chris. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, scattered with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Chris raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Chris's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Chris still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Chris and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Chris wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Chris's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Chris's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is dark tonight;
The band is silent somewhere, and somewhere hearts are in fright,
And somewhere men are crying, and somewhere faces are long;
But there is great joy in Royalville - mighty Chris has hung dong.