I actually wrote on this very topic, baseball and poetry, last October for the
Poetry Foundation. I wish I'd known Holden's poem then.
Levi's article about baseball and poetry can be found here, and it's excellent indeed, so please click through. Added bonus: a pic of Levi accompanies the article. As a bald guy with glasses myself, I can tell you that he is a damn handsome man.
Anyway, all of this had me thinking further on Sara K.'s initial comment about baseball inspiring poetry. Why is this? The game isn't necessarily poetic in and of itself. There are a lot of stops and starts. So much of the game is left brain rather than right. There's a lot of scratching and spitting. But maybe the setting makes it. Games occur on hot languid nights on a field of green, and unfold in just such a way as to ensure ample time for contemplation. This is some pretty fertile soil for growing poetry, no?
But I think Levi -- who has obviously thought about this more than I have -- has a better answer that sees poetry in those stops and starts I initially thought weren't helpful to the cause:
Poetry and baseball encourage us to concentrate on singular moments, and that concentration creates preservation. A pitch, a pause, a pitch, followed by frenetic action—a glowing white baseball disappearing into the night over the Green Monster; Archibald MacLeish’s “sole, clean, clear / Leap of the salmon that has disappeared.” Baseball’s very rhythms are those of poetry, acknowledging that if everything can change in a moment, then attention to those moments is an essential duty.It's not the rhyme, it's the meter, baby.