‘Suppose You Never Hit a Home Run’ by Milton Speiser


Babe Ruth, or simply “The Babe,” hit his 700th career home run 80 years ago, on July 14th, 1934.  His final record of 714 career home runs, set the next May, lasted for nearly forty years, finally broken by Hank Aaron in 1974; only Aaron and Barry Bonds have bested the Babe in the time since. “Suppose You Never Hit a Home Run” has a more somber tone than this 80th anniversary warrants, but Milton Speiser reminds his readers that even if they aren’t superstars, the world will note their passing nonetheless.  Published in the Spring 1952 issue of the Schooner, “Suppose You Never” came forth into a chilly spring, placing in the cooler third of Lincoln’s historical springs, even though the last snow fell at the beginning of April. –Tory Clower

Milton Speiser
Suppose You Never Hit a Home Run

But suppose you never won the Davis Cup,
Never hit a home run,
Suppose you were never cheered by a crowd, nobody ever asked you for an autograph,
Suppose you were never a champ, but only a fighter in the prelims.

Bowed by boredom, toil and tears,
Wrap your mind in funny papers,
And live your life in ciphers
Down the mean streets of the years.
No retreat from the electric bill, the water-closet in the hall,
From dayspring to sunfall eke hunger,
And in the black hallways, on the fetid streets
Rear the fruit of your one-room loves.
In the clinic,
This your beloved body under the knife,
The last white light bright on the bone,
Pay breath’s last pinched penny
And into the ether cone whisper the last abject farewell.

Wreathe the tenements in black, fold in crepe the gutted brick,
Swathe the basements in black, and the railroad flats,
Spray perfume in the police precinct, strew flowers in the pool parlor, close the beer joints this one day,
And stick a lily in every manhole cover.

But when that hearse passes let some horns blow,
And let a wind take the crepe and rustle the leaves on the wreaths,
Let night fall in the mean streets
And one child cry.