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Dougie at the Bat

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With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer:



The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Richmond nine that day:

The home ballpark was decades old where they were forced to play.

While Ukrop got his opera house, and marinas were ordained,

Feelings of abandonment struck the owners of the game.



A few had made proposals quite ridiculous. They fought 'em.

One was that they throw their balls in busy Shockoe Bottom.

The thought was what the future was, how Doug would show his hand.

The mighty Braves had won support, but now they wanted land.



Yes, Black succeeded Harrell, then a publicist came in and went,

But none of them could cop the shortest statement of intent.

For months and months, negotiation points grew dust and sat.

It almost seemed like nothing could get Dougie up to bat.



Now Plant let loose a signal, to the wonderment of all,

And the local sports authority made it clear they wanted ball.

But when the dust had lifted, there was some misunderstanding:

There was Mayor Dougie making deals with folks at Rocketts Landing.



Then from down the Boulevard, there arose a lusty yell,

The team was actually winning games and fireworks loudly fell.

A chunk of ballpark roofing almost crushed a patron flat.

And Dougie, mighty Dougie, was advancing with his bat.



There was ease in Dougie's manner as he stood behind the plate.

He knew he was the MVP, he was in a mood to wait.

Instead of a baseball uniform, he wore a cowboy's clothes;

Patrons at the park that day saw Dougie thumb his nose.



Eight thousand eyes were on him when the time had come to swing.

A multitude was murmuring as His Honor did his thing.

He pointed at the gas works, said, "This will be your place."

Defiance gleamed in Dougie's eye, a smirk hit Dougie's face.



Then official ball club letters came a-zipping through the air,

And Dougie stood a-reading them in haughty grandeur there.

"Tell us about the roads, the costs," read one. "And toxic spread."

"That ain't my style," said Wilder. "Strike one," the umpire said.



From the benches, up and down, came shock and startled fright.

"What of Diamond Duck?" they yelled. "The fate of Free Mug Night?"

"Does this closer love the ballgame deep down in his bones?"

"If Eugene Trani told him to, he'd play like Chipper Jones."



Wearing a smile of unknown stock, our Dougie did a dance.

He feuded with the ball boy and he kicked a vendor's pants.

He considered Mayo Island, and then told them what to do:

"I think you'll stay right where you are." The umpire said, "Strike two."



"Good God!" cried all the Richmond fans, with echoes spreading loud.

But a scornful look from Dougie brought a hush upon that crowd.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

They wondered if the man had lost his mind and gone insane.



The sneer has gone from Dougie's lips, his look now holds surprise.

While he warred with everyone, the team sought bluer skies.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

But the ballgame's played in Gwinnett, where the Braves are now the show.



Faraway in other lands, school boards agree to audits,

And leaders lead effectively, not caring about plaudits,

And somewhere stacked committees make big deals for men of clout,

But there is no joy in R-town, mighty Dougie has struck out.





Don Harrison is a Richmond-based writer and the co-founder of Saverichmond.com.

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