The other evening in our class at church Reverend Peggy distributed a poem about the afterlife, death, all the stuff we all love to dwell on. It made me think of a poem I have always liked very much by Grantland Rice America's first prominent sportswriter (they used to be prominent, today he would be a "celebrity" on various television shows). I love the poem for several reasons. First, it has as its metaphor baseball, a game I love. Growing up I would often sit in the kitchen talking to my mom while she made dinner, it was not unusual for her to have a game on the radio or television as she was a fan of the game. So the tie with my mom and baseball and this poem creates an affinity for me. Second, the imagery is terrific and whenever I see the final scene from "Field of Dreams" when they walk into the cornfield I think of this poem. As I told Reverend Peggy when I sent this to her when the time comes for my memorial/funeral service I would like this to be read--and hope that when the last line is read those listening think, "he played it well, with honesty, character and integrity."
There are two versions of this poem, one from the mid-1920s that Rice published and this one from Babe Ruth's eulogy that was published in 1956 in The Fireside Book of Baseball:
Game Called by Grantland Rice
Game Called. Across the field of play
the dusk has come, the hour is late.
The fight is done and lost or won,
the player files out through the gate.
The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
the stands are bare, the park is still.
But through the night there shines the light,
home beyond the silent ill.
Game Called. Where in the golden light
the bugle rolled the reveille.
The shadows creep where night falls deep,
and taps has called the end of play.
The game is done, the score is in,
the final cheer and jeer have passed.
But in the night, beyond the fight,
the player finds his rest at last.
Game Called. Upon the field of life
the darkness gathers far and wide,
the dream is done, the score is spun
that stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat
is chalked against the players name.
But down the roll, the final scroll,
shows only how he played the game.