The Willie Stargell Blues

After writing a beautiful poem about running, based on images of a long-distance runner he saw at 2am in New York CIty, the late Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali was inspired to start running. He ran most days for the rest of his short life. Whenever he read the poem at a public reading, he quipped, “Don’t tell me literature doesn’t have a purpose in our lives–it got me to start running.”

A few days ago, the Red Sox unveiled the beautiful bronze tribute to Pesky, DiMaggio, Doerr and Williams.(I happen to love bronze sculptures.) All of you know this already, along with Halberstam’s great book. Here we have another example of what great writing can do in the world. Would the dedication have happened without the book? Perhaps. But now the book and this quartet are forever linked.

On page 43, in a chapter about Pesky, Halberstam writes about Pesky’s respect for Willie Stargell. “To this day, when Pesky spots a young player he likes not just as a player but as a man, he uses Stargell as his measuring rod, the requisite qualities being uncommon inner strength and human richness.” The reason I have the Willie Stargell blues this morning has almost everything to do with the crumbling loss last night.This bullpen faltering again defeat is in stark(to state the obvious) contrast to the permanence of the Teammates. The statues cause me to wonder about elements of the game like consistency and duration.

Bard might have what it takes to become a great closer. For now, though, I believe he is the best set-up man in the game. In his bereavement absence (my sincere condolences to the Papelbon family) the Sox have been without their closer. Hindsight I know. But Lester’s Cleveland blues could have been cured not only by Adrian “don’t touch my head Beltre, but also by Papelbon’s consistency in Cleveland.

In the tradition of Ameican Roots music I call out to readers to respond. Whom do we call our Stargell? Or perhaps not so exact, who has the best inner strength and human richness on the Sox right now? After all, there aren’t many Willie Stargells in a lifetime. Nor are there friendships like Pesky-Doerr-DiMaggio-Williams that last over 60 years. The idea of that makes me just about weep.

PS.In the final minutes of their victory last night, the Celtics kept passing the ball to Paul Pierce, their Willie S.Tying the series up 2-2 was the best medicine after the bloop single by Branyun.

On the Ipod as I write this: “Keep on Runnin'” Cat Power

Note: A shout out to Jen, Red Sox Faithful, a blogger teammate.



  1. bklyntrolleyblogger

    That’s a great Bronze Quartet! I can’t wait to make my next drive up there and check it out. No. There aren’t many friendships like that, if any at all, that exist in today’s game; not in a team-mate type and life relationship. Free agency I think left those loyalties in the past. Four guys couldn’t stay together that long in today’s game to achieve a friendship the likes of Dom and Co. Just my take.

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