Our Gift of 'Images'
RG Online brings our Web readers a special feature, one which
fills me with pride and with awe for its creator, Senior Writer/Editor
Bernie Greene. It's an epic poem titled "Images." Through
Bernie's poem, which presents sports images of the 20th century,
you will see Mickey Mantle, George Mikan, and the Palestra once
again. You'll see a century of sports. Each line will evoke a
time, a place, an experience, and a memory that has been tucked
I'm honored to have "Images" on RG's Web site. It
first appeared in the November 1999 issue of RG as a special
pullout section. It is a poem for the ages, one to read over
and over again, to read to your children and grandchildren, to
save and to treasure, for it is part of sports history. It is
the essence of sports, captured in poetry by RG's Poet Extraordinaire,
Bernie can be contacted at SrWriter@RunnersGazette.com.
From Bernie: I'm as proud of "Images" as
anything I've ever written. It's a special gift to RG readers
and to sports fans everywhere.
BY BERNIE GREENE
The Miracle of Coogan's Bluff,
The steal by Havlicek,
The phantom punch by Cassius Clay
When Liston hit the deck.
Ameche diving through the line,
Big Unit on the mound,
The touchdown sneak by ol' Bart Starr
Upon the frozen ground.
Bob Cousy dribbling out the clock,
C. Stengel's lexicon,
Mel Allen's splendid home-run call:
The Golden Bear's course management,
Don Larsen's perfect game,
Pete Rose's hustle all the time,
Frank Robinson's cool flame.
The basket catch of Willie Mays,
The sky hook of Jabbar,
A. Palmer hitching up his pants,
Affirmed and Alydar.
Dave Cowens diving for loose balls,
The Phillies' pennant swoon,
Big Red at Churchill Downs in May
And Belmont Park in June.
The Splendid Splinter's batting eye,
Bikila's steady pace,
The perfect swing of Slammin' Sam,
The Yankee Clipper's grace.
The driving force of Jimmy Brown,
L. Bird's intensity,
Tom Watson's chip at Pebble Beach,
McGwire's homer spree.
The New York Jets victorious,
D. Rodman's orange hair,
Pudge Fisk a-waving franticly
To make the ball stay fair.
John Daly smacking it a mile,
K. Switzer's Boston run,
John Wooden's classy college teams,
Trevino having fun.
Tarkanian sucking on a towel,
The skill of A.J. Foyt,
Dave Stewart's nearly constant scowl,
The grit of Joan Benoit.
Wilt Chamberlain's resounding dunks
And wrists with rubber bands,
Mick swinging, belting Ramos' pitch
So far, it never lands.
The prime-time shots of Jerry West,
Bear Bryant's houndstooth hat,
R. Clemens posting twenty Ks,
The George Brett "pine tar" bat.
Bob Gibson pitching up and in,
The form of Zatopek,
The speed and pow'r of Barry Bonds,
The genius of Bill Veeck.
The Bad Boys playing for Detroit,
Jim Loscutoff, bête noire,
The Yankees winning yet again,
Red Auerbach's cigar.
Wayne Gretzky's jersey hanging out,
O. Korbut's winning smile,
Lake Placid's Miracle on Ice,
Jim Ryun's schoolboy mile.
The dead-on throws of Sammy Baugh,
Bill Russell blocking shots,
The arsenal of Thomas Hearns,
Don Shula's juggernauts.
Bob Pettit blocking out his man,
Mark Spitz's "instant" fame,
George Blanda walking on the field
To save another game.
Boog Powell getting "booed" at home,
Lombardi coaching at Green Bay,
Pat Riley's "Showtime" Lakers.
The Boston Garden's parquet floor,
The Thrilla in Manila,
The tennis match 'tween Bobby Riggs
And Billy Jean, mankilla.
Al Oerter cranking up to throw,
N. Ryan's no-hit jobs,
Kirk Gibson limping to the plate
And doing a Roy Hobbs.
The subway series in New York,
Vin Scully and Red Barber,
Dave Kingman swinging from the heels,
Bo coaching at Ann Arbor.
King Carl matching Owens' golds,
The speed of Vida Blue,
The starting line in Hopkinton,
The finish at the Pru.
The winning vault by Kerri Strug,
Synched Willie Stargell swinging,
The jump shots of Paul Arizin,
Ol' Harry Caray singing.
The shifty moves of Gale Sayers,
The bank shots of Sam Jones,
Bruce Jenner's ten at Montreal,
M. Seles' grunts and groans.
The wrecking ball at Ebbets Field,
The Dodgers in L.A.,
The hissy fits of Bobby Knight,
Cal Ripken, EVERY day.
Unitas carving up his foe,
Fast Eric Heiden's thighs,
Tom Heinsohn draining baseline hooks,
Deft Bobby Shantz's size.
The head-first slides of Henderson,
The Pirates' "Family,"
The Big O's triple-double year,
Roone Arledge, ABC.
The NHL in Sun Belt towns,
Joe Namath's guarantee,
The Knicks, with limping Willis Reed,
Go on to victory.
The Tiger's boffo Masters win,
Fierce R. Duran's "No más,"
The pitching guile of Whitey Ford,
Ol' Archie Moore's right cross.
R. Marciano's fists of stone,
Art Monk, who's seen, not heard,
Garagiola's funny bone,
Dan Jansen, undeterred.
Dolph Schayes with fist thrust in the air,
Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach,
M. Jordan's hand-switch double-pump,
Lou Gehrig's final speech.
Joe Frazier bobbing, moving in,
Andretti's Indy car,
Citation with Arcaro up,
John Elway, superstar.
Bill Sharman making each free throw,
Steinbrenner making money,
Sir Roger Bannister's sub-4,
Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney.
Joe Louis knocking Schmeling out,
Bill Rodgers' floppy hair,
The frenzied charge of Billy Mills,
Jim Palmer's underwear.
Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita,
Yastrzemski's batting stance,
Gordie Howe and Terry Sawchuck,
D. Sanders' end-zone dance.
Jack Foster's masters marathon,
Babe Ruth in all his glory,
Bill Mazeroski's home-run blow,
A Shirley Povich story.
Paterno with his cuffs rolled up,
Bob Beamon's quantum leap,
Don Carter's quirky bowling form,
Don Maynard going deep.
Seattle Slew's big Triple Crown,
Greg Norman's Masters woe,
Walt Frazier donning his fur coat,
Bjorn Borg and McEnroe.
The "Let's play two today" of Banks,
Tom Seaver's blazing speed,
The TKO of Patterson
By Ingemar, the Swede.
Frank Ramsey coming off the bench,
Two football leagues make nice,
The Stanley Cups of Montreal,
A piece by Grantland Rice.
The rocket shots of Guy Lafleur,
The Celtics' dynasty,
The Gas House Gang of Frankie Frisch,
Ken Griffey's pedigree.
The post-catch runs of Jerry Rice,
Ryne Duren's psych-out glasses,
The forehand bombs of Steffi Graf,
Ken Stabler's spiral passes.
Dick Butkus stuffing every run,
The Mets' rise from the cellar,
Early Wynn and Mike Garcia,
Bob Lemon and Bob Feller.
Roy Campanella, MVP,
The class of Arthur Ashe,
Knute Rockne's "Gipper" pregame speech,
John Riggins and the Redskins' Hogs,
Young Boris Becker diving,
The iron will of Salazar,
Ol' Jimmy Connors striving.
Rick Barry's free throws--underhand,
Scott Hamilton on ice,
Greg Maddux carving up the plate,
Martina's backhand slice.
Mike Ditka yanking his QB,
Ben Johnson's counterclaims,
Jean Claude Killy's three skiing golds--
All at Grenoble's Games.
The whirling moves of Earl the Pearl,
Curt Gowdy, NBC,
Long green galore for baseball stars
'Cause Curt Flood's broken free.
The Phillies' "Whiz Kids" taking first,
Clemente's rifle arm,
Mark Fidrych talking to himself,
The Charley Finley Farm.
Montana's touchdown pass to Clark,
Quick Elgin Baylor gunning,
Chris Evert's steady baseline play,
Swift Jesse Owens running.
S. Koufax snapping off a curve,
Paul Hornung's golden locks,
Bill Bradley hitting only net,
The Pistol's floppy socks.
Rod Laver's all-court artistry,
Pete Sampras' bullet shots,
The air ballet of Dr. J,
Hank Aaron's home-run trots.
The bolo punch of Gavilan,
Bob Tway's shot from the sand,
The guts of Jackie Robinson,
Phil Jackson's steady hand.
The Immaculate Reception
By Steeler Franco Harris,
The chasing of the ghost of Ruth
By Yankee Roger Maris.
Clete Boyer, human vacuum,
The Rumble in the Jungle,
Cosell and Frank and Dandy Don,
Bill Buckner's costly bungle.
The fashion statements by FloJo,
The highlights Magic gave us,
Ben Hogan 'neath the Texas sun,
Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.
Oliva swinging inside out,
Hoyt Wilhelm's knuckleball,
The three-run poke by Bucky Dent
O'er Fenway's fabled wall.
Branch Rickey signing Robinson,
The hands of Raymond Berry,
The Big Train's sidearm "aspirins,"
Doug Flutie's Hail Mary.
Bill Tilden, U.S. singles champ,
Krzyzewski's teams at Duke,
The sideline trip by Woody Hayes,
Kempainen's eight-stage puke.
Bill Walton passing from the post,
Guy Rodgers' sleight of hand,
The California touchdown run
Through Stanford's marching band.
The many sports of Didrikson,
Sweet Walter Payton's runs,
The leadership of Johnny Bench,
George Gervin's one-on-ones.
Marino's sixty thousand yards,
The Leonard-Hagler brawl,
The line-drive stroke of Tony Gwynn,
Bill Kilmer's wherewithal.
The strike zone shrinking over time,
The designated hitter,
Last names on backs of uniforms,
The Gaylord Perry spitter.
The kickoff from the thirty-five,
Two-point conversion tries,
The instant replay arguments,
George Allen's fear of spies.
The shot clock speeding up the game,
The wid'ning of the key,
The shooters camped in three-point land,
Jack Ramsay, Ph.D.
Joe Morgan pumping his left arm,
Jim Thorpe's amazing feats,
The many sacks by Reggie White--
A wrecking crew in cleats.
The high-knee kick of Warren Spahn,
O.J.'s two thousand yards,
Parseghian at Notre Dame,
Kids trading baseball cards.
The scoring knack of Bobby Orr,
The Bears of Papa Halas,
The Michael Johnson Rocket Show,
Jack Lambert doing malice.
Ron Guidry's slider, down and in,
Bo Jackson saying "Maybe,"
Dick Fosbury's Fantastic Flop,
Al Davis: "Just win, baby."
The perfect 10s of Nadia,
Kluszewski's sleeveless shirt,
The down-home wit of Dizzy Dean,
Brock sliding in the dirt.
S. Bubka's many soaring vaults,
The Earl of Baltimore,
The line drive off McDougald's bat
That struck Tribe star Herb Score.
The drives of Tiny Archibald,
Jim Bunning's follow-through,
The rookie year of Satchel Paige,
When he was 42.
The downhill runs of Picabo,
The woooosh of Bonnie Blair,
Kurt Thomas on the pommel horse,
Sam Sosa on a tear.
The Tours de France of Greg LeMond,
Gonzales' booming serve,
The coiled stance of Stan the Man,
Steve Carlton's roundhouse curve.
Jack Dempsey mauling giant Jess,
Ryne Sandberg's fielding stats,
The gestures of encouragement--
High-fives and heinie pats.
The boxing skill of Sugar Ray,
Pele's infectious grin,
Valvano's all-court hugging spree,
P. Nurmi, Flying Finn.
Dan Gable, wrestling champion,
The Slam of Bobby Jones,
The Cleveland Browns with Otto Graham,
Ray Nitschke breaking bones.
Lou Groza kicking it straight on,
McKay's "Wide World of Sports,"
Nick Lowery kicking soccer-style,
R. Garros' red-clay courts.
Lasorda "bleeding" Dodger blue,
The Braves of Bobby Cox,
Carl Hubbell's All-Star strikeout feat,
The chaw of Nellie Fox.
The temperament of Lefty Grove,
The Fridge's ample paddin',
The NFL on CBS
With Summerall and Madden.
Chaz Barkley jawing with the fans,
Hank Bauer, leatherneck,
Palestra's Big Five Basketball--
Tom Gola, Ernie Beck.
Len Wilkens, first in victories,
The Derby with the Shoe,
Wes Unseld's trademark outlet pass,
Night baseball games at Wrigley Field,
Pietrie out of gas,
The Astrodome in '65--
With artificial grass.
Brooks Robinson's amazing glove,
Jeff Gordon's checkered flags,
The focused face of Raymond Floyd,
The Raiders' scalawags.
The o'er-the-shoulder catch by Mays,
Big Bubba selling brew,
The gliding moves of Easy Ed,
Kasparov and Big Blue.
New York's beloved Polo Grounds,
Forbes Field in Steeltown,
Shibe Park in Philadelphia--
All gone...they tore 'em down.
Ol' Yogi Berra's malaprops,
Ben Crenshaw's perfect putts,
The sharp control of Eckersley,
Mike Tyson's uppercuts.
The Duke patrolling center field,
The Quis's submarine,
Steve Largent's thirteen thousand yards,
Tom Harmon, Wolverine.
The "crazy legs" of Elroy Hirsch,
The Reds' banked warning track,
Bednarik staying on the field,
The A's of Connie Mack.
Walt Alston, skipper without peer,
Konstanty, ace reliever,
Luisetti, jump-shot pioneer,
Lance Alworth, ace receiver.
The pinch-hit poke by Dusty Rhodes,
Dwight Gooden and his hummer,
O'Malley and the Flatbush fans--
They loved the Boys of Summer.
Keith Jackson's football play-by-play,
Bob Seagren flying high,
John Mackey running over folks,
The hang time of Ray Guy.
The A.L. in my high-school years
When musing bore this fruit:
Cash and Bond--and Hale and Hardy--
And Grant and Lee, to boot.
Durocher's "Nice guys finish last,"
McCovey's home-run stroke,
The forkball master, Elroy Face,
Goose Gossage throwing smoke.
The surliness of Albert Belle,
Hack Wilson's RBIs,
John Thompson's hug of guard Fred Brown--
They gave no alibis.
S. Butcher's four Iditarods,
Daytona with the King,
The marathons of Grete Waitz,
The Garden's boxing ring.
The pennants (10!) of John McGraw,
Nastase fit to kill,
The goalie mask of ol' Jacques Plante,
Tom Landry's bitter pill.
The baseball strike in '94
With all its controversy,
Heptathlon scores o'er seven thou
By Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Cy Young's five hundred victories,
Kentucky's Adolph Rupp,
Greg Norman's classy graciousness
When he was runner-up.
The wounded knee of Kerrigan,
The top draft pick's dinero,
Bjorn Dählie's eight cross-country golds,
The Torvill-Dean "Bolero."
Autumnal Yankee Stadium,
P. Fleming, ballerina,
The tennis-playing Williamses--
Buff Venus and Serena.
The scrambles of Fran Tarkenton,
McHale, Bird, and Parish,
John Stockton dishing to Malone,
Joe Theismann's leg--nightmarish.
E. Coghlan's sub-4 masters mile,
Mosconi's silky stroke,
Al Shepard's lunar iron shot,
Joe Greene endorsing Coke.
An earthquake rocking Candlestick,
The Babe's called-homer myth,
Two black-gloved fists raised overhead--
John Carlos, Tommie Smith.
The feral smile of Valentine,
Bill Hartack's "Giddyup!"
The Justin Leonard killer putt
That clinched the Ryder Cup.
The Graziano-Zale wars,
Marv Albert in hot water,
The headlong dash from first to home
By Enos "Country" Slaughter.
Twin Towers on the Texas plain,
The fire of Tug McGraw,
Don Zimmer sitting on the bench,
The Brandi Chastain bra.
Tris Speaker's shallow center field,
Dawn Fraser, swimming queen,
Staid Hale Irwin's victory lap
Around the eighteenth green.
Resurgent Andre Agassi,
El Duque's trial by fire,
The two-year home-run spectacle
Of Sosa and McGwire.
The 'Trotters of Abe Saperstein--
Goose Tatum, Marques Haynes,
The 1920 sale of Ruth--
The Red Sox' bane of banes.
The last-ditch shot by Garfield Heard,
Red Smith, a splendid scribe,
Martinez, with an ailing back,
Shuts down the fearsome Tribe.
The shooting touch of Hornacek,
Ventura's grand-slam single,
The stoic face of Margaret Court,
Two baseball leagues commingle.
One hundred points by Wilt the Stilt,
Bill Russell's savoir-faire,
Stealth moving vans in Baltimore,
Red Grange's zigzag flair.
John Naber swimming on his back,
Max Patkin, baseball clown,
Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense sets,
The Mick's huge triple crown.
His Airness, human highlight film,
Joe Carter's Series ender,
The Edwin Moses winning streak,
Ted Turner, big-time spender.
McCovey's rope to Richardson,
Mike Schmidt, the best at third,
The Fischer-Spassky title match,
The drink that Reggie stirred.
The outsized shoes of Bob Lanier,
Mick Owens' dropped third strike,
The Harvey Haddix "perfect" loss,
Lance Armstrong on his bike.
The touchdown count of Emmitt Smith,
Don Drysdale bearing down,
McCormick, diving champion,
The Hall in Cooperstown.
DiMag's streak of 56,
Chris Laettner's winning shot,
The modesty of Mia Hamm,
R. Jackson's All-Star swat.
Ken Dryden sprawling in the crease,
"Just Do It" bumper stickers,
Joe Gibbs, from coach to NASCAR man,
Payne Stewart's cap and knickers.
The U.S. women's soccer team,
The fury of L.T.,
The clean-cut look of Matthewson,
Four Horsemen at N.D.
The college bowls on New Year's Day,
Ed Stanky, dubbed "the Brat,"
George Mikan, "Mr. Basketball,"
Ted Williams' last at-bat.
Joe Torre's Yanks in '98,
La Russa, tough and brainy,
The pas de deux by Zola Budd
And Mary Decker Slaney.
The images that stick with me
Are myriad, it seems;
To list them all for you today
Would take me reams and reams.
To pick just one to call my fave
Would almost be a sin,
But somewhere near the top I'd put
Frank Shorter's Munich win.
I hope the ones that I have shared
Have rung a bell or two--
And also that those images
Have touched a chord in you.