A-Rod’s 661

(5.7 No.31 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)


By Steve Hermanos

Alex Rodriguez blasts a homer to center
At Yankee Stadium,
Career Home Run Number 661,
Passing Willie Mays’ 660;
Yankee fans cheer A-Rod out of the dugout,
For another hurrah and a wave from 661;

Everyone hates cheaters, right?

Now it’s
762 Barry Bonds
755 Henry Aaron
714 Babe Ruth
661 Alex Rodriguez
660 Willie Mays

2 of those 5
brimmed with steroids
while whacking homers

And the unstained list:
755 Henry Aaron
714 Babe Ruth
660 Willie Mays

5386 total homers in 2006
4957 in 2007
5042 in 2009
4934 in 2012
4661 in 2013
4182 in 2014

That’s 22 percent fewer homers in ’14
Compared to ’06,
Since testing,
And A-Rod steroids banishment for all of last year;

That 714 stood
As Mays and Aaron and Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks
And Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew
And Eddie Mathews
Consistently piled up 25, 30, 40 homers a year
Through the late 1950’s and 60’s and early 70’s,
Career homers rose like flood tides
Could any of them rise higher than the Babe?

The New York Times
Kept a tracker
In the baseball pages
Of Aaron’s homers
In 1973,
A silhouette of a baseball,
With 685,
Ending the season at 713;

And that winter,
It’s all I could think about,
In the Spring of ’74
Topps put out its set,
The first seven cards
Devoted to Henry Aaron,
Card #1
Home Run
We kids wondered,
Was Topps jinxing Hank Aaron,
He hadn’t tied,
Or passed
The Babe;

On April 8th,
Monday Night Baseball,
Hank hit number 715,
And I jumped for joy on the shag rug,
Into the living room,
All over the apartment;

In August,
The Mets held “Hank Aaron Day”
Gave out a poster of Aaron;
Dad and I were sitting in the Loge,
Along left field,
Watching Aaron down there,
King of homers;
And every time he came up to bat,
I wished out loud to see a Hank Aaron homer;
There was a long drive to left—
And for a moment it might go!
But it short-hopped the wall,
And 40-year-old Henry Aaron
Cruised into second base.

41 years later,
Significantly lighter
Than his peak steroids years,
Soon-to-be himself 40 years old;

We looked to sports for purity,
And now, when there are so many riches
Up for grabs,
Purity is when
you have the cow-shod ball in your hand;

I’ll take the measure of my life in love,
And not in anyone else’s 661;

The Yank fans are standing and ovating,
Thanking him for helping them
Attain first place,
After a spate of losing seasons;

But I do wish A-Rod well,
Wish him, in his shrunkenness,
To play beautifully
In great talent and dedication
Under blood testing.

(Yankees 4—Orioles 3)



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