The Poetic Hill

Photo of Mr. Miller by Justin D. Knight

E. Ethelbert Miller has given a splendid gift to anyone who loves poetry or baseball—or the poetry of baseball. In his new book, “If God Invented Baseball,” the DC literary icon writes lyrically of playing stickball in the South Bronx until it got too dark to see the ball (or it rolled down the sewer), of waiting for autographs outside Yankee Stadium, and of sitting in the stands praying for a rally (he loves the Nats, he writes in the preface, “with all the joy and heartbreak only a Cubs or Red Sox fan would understand.”). He touches his cap to the heroes—Robinson, Mantle, Paige, Koufax, Campanella—and to the catchers, knuckleballers, and relief pitchers who brought grace and beauty to the game. Woven throughout, like the stitches on a baseball, are themes of race and redemption, triumphs and disappointments, and the sheer celebration of life that is baseball.

If God invented baseball
There would be no stealing
no balks, no wild pitches or intentional
walks. There would be no pitch-outs,
foul balls or errors. There would be
no one-hand catches or bean balls.
There would be no curves or sliders,
no rundowns, or warning tracks.
If God invented baseball there would
be no night games, no balls getting lost
in the sun. There would be no bunting
or swinging for the fences. There would
be no double plays or triple plays.
If God invented baseball
he would not rest on the seventh day.
Instead he would turn to us and say
“let’s play two.” He would let us bat
first while his angels danced
in the outfield.

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, City Point Press (    


Meet E. Ethelbert Miller and other DC poets at the Literary Hill BookFest, Sunday, May 6, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at Eastern Market. Then join us across the street on Tunnicliff ‘s patio at 3 p.m. for Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s, a reading and open-mic poetry event.


If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to (There is no remuneration.)