The Batter by Kenneth C. Hoffman

Nathan Cohen

The Batter by Kenneth C. Hoffman

I can feel the tension building,

Our team's down by three -

Bases are loaded, it's in the ninth inning,

The batter stands there like a tree.

His steady eyes pierce the man on the mound,

Fierce concentration cuts all of the sound.

He plants his feet, sure of his might,

His grip on the bat, knuckles white.

He takes the first strike, high inside corner,

The second pitch flew - a wicked chin burner.

He could feel the wind but never flinched,

The next curved towards his knees,

They moved not an inch.

A hysterical crowd now wants to see blood -

The noise drowns his brain

Like a powerful flood.

His gut says the pitcher's fast ball will end it.

And when it comes, he'll know where to send it.

HIs anger whipped the bat around -

A deafening crack, right to the mound.

But it was up and away,

A four run homer that saved the day!

Literal Meaning


The pressure is rising and the team is down by three with the bases loaded. It’s the bottom of the 9th inning and the batter stands in the box waiting patiently. He stares at the pitcher, his concentration blocking out all of the sound. He stands in the box, sure of his strength, gripping the bat as tight as he can. He takes the first pitch for a strike high and inside and the second pitch came in at the chin. He could feel the wind but he didn’t flinch. The next pitch was a curveball at the knees but the batter didn’t move. The crowd wants strike three and the noise overtakes the batter's brain. He thinks the pitcher's next fastball will be the one he hits because when it comes he will know where to hit it. He swings the bat with all his might, a loud hit sailing over the mound. The ball goes over the fence, a four run home run to win the game!

Situation

The author is telling the story of a key at bat late in a baseball game. The poet describes how the batter struggles early, quickly getting into a 1 ball 2 strike count but then he battles back to hit a home run to win the game. The poem shows the tension as well as the excitement that comes with a big situation at the end of a close baseball game. The batter is describing the at bat but he is doing so in third person. He describes it almost like an out of body experience. The batter is speaking to himself as he says “I can feel the tension building”. The speaker is very trustworthy as he was the one hitting. The speaker is proud of his accomplishment and he speaks about it with pride. When reading the poem out loud it would be best if it was read with a slightly nervous but also a slightly confident tone as the batter feels the pressure of the situation but he also is confident in his talent. His confidence is shown when he says “And when it comes, he’ll know where to send it”.

Structure

The poet chose free form for this poem because this was the best way to express the fluttering emotions of this situation. The poet tells a story with this poem describing each pitch of the at bat as well as describing the hitter's changing mindset. At the beginning of the poem the attitude is nerves but at the end it is excitement and joy as the hitter succeeded in helping his team win the game. In this poem the poet uses lots of commas and a few periods. This poem was an end-stopped poem as at the end of each idea there is a period. For example, when the poet describes the hitter’s concentration he says “His steady eyes pierce the man on the mound, fierce concentration cuts all of the sound.”. The title, “The Batter”, relates to the poem because the poem describes the experience of a batter in a key situation in the game.

Language

One key line in the poem is when the poet says “The batter stands there like a tree”. What this means is that the batter is standing there still and stiff meaning he is unrelaxed. One of the lines that really stood out to me was “A deafening crack, right to the mound.”. This line allowed me to understand the strength with which the hitter hit the ball because when someone hits a baseball perfectly with a wood bat it makes one of the loudest noises I have ever heard.

Musical Devices

The rhyme scheme for the poem is ABCBDDEEFGHBHIJIKKLLMM.

After reading the poem I was pumped up because it was a really intense situation in which the most exciting thing that could happen did happen.