Category Archives: personal writings of Roger W. Smith

doggerel

 

 

A little poem

For my son’s math class.

Mostly written by me.

Clever?

Jejune?

You be the judge.

 

— Roger W. Smith

 

 

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Don’t be lazy.
Don’t be lazy.
Multiply and divide,
Don’t be cra-ZY.

Mathematics is the key.
Without it,
Everything’s a myster-Y.

You will never know,
Will never be recognized
As an authority,
If you can’t add, subtract, and multipl-Y.

As a leader.
Doctor,
Nurse,
Teacher,
Mind read-ER.

Algebra and geometry won’t ever leave you depressed.
Don’t fear your teacher,
By your knowledge she’ll surely be impress-ED.

Mathematics is all logic.
Calculation,
Combination,
In your brain a nice vibrat-ION.

Rational and logical,
Very mathematic-AL!

Math and I are FRIENDS,
Here my little song happ’ly ENDS!

Roger W. Smith, “On Catching a Fly Ball”

 

Mark Harris, in his wonderful baseball novel The Southpaw (1953), talks about an aspect of the game, fly balls.

The Southpaw is the first in a series of novels about Henry Wiggen, a star pitcher for a fictional team, the New York Mammoths.

In an expository passage, Harris observes that it is aesthetically beautiful and satisfying to watch an outfielder do something that is considered routine: catch a fly ball, say, during practice when a coach is hitting fungoes.

He refers to the flight of the ball and the grace it requires to track and catch it.

When you think about it, catching a long fly is a skill one has to develop. It is actually counterintuitive, in a sense. Think of a person not brought up with baseball in their culture trying to do it (and how ridiculous they often look when they try).

I bought an instructional video on fielding once for my sons Henry and Stephen. It was quite good. The instructor said that the key to catching a fly is to run to the spot where you think it is going to come down and be sure you are under it when it does. Otherwise, you will find yourself out of position, lunging for the ball. If you are already in position, in the right spot, you have a good chance of making the catch.

The instructor also said you have to cradle a grounder like an egg and see it into your glove. I have often marveled at how few errors major league infielders make. I have noticed that they always seem to position themselves correctly, in terms of their stance and glove. It seems to be the key to their success in this regard.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     September 2015

 

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ADDENDUM

Below is the text of am email of mine from October 2004 to my older brother, sister, and my uncle, Roger Handy.

 

From: Roger W. Smith

Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 10:04 AM

Subject: Manny should have caught it

 

Manny Ramirez looked like a Little Leaguer trying to catch Bernie Williams’s fly in the 8th inning last night. The Sox might have had a chance if they had gone into the 9th one run down.

Everyone knows — as color commentator Al Leiter pointed out — that you are supposed to turn around and run to where you think the ball is headed while looking over your shoulder, not try to catch a fly ball backpedaling waving your glove in the air.

One of the guys I have been playing baseball with lately is a 25 year old ex-minor leaguer in the Mets farm system. He discussed with us some of the fundamentals one is taught in the minors. Things like throwing, basic stance and swing, and so forth.

His advice was actually helpful to me. For instance, I realized I usually throw the ball wrong (overhand instead of three quarters). He tries to coach the kids we play with, some of whom don’t listen.

Where was Manny when they were teaching fundamentals? But come to think of it, I am not sure he ever played minor league ball.

 

 

“My Dogs Growing Up”

 

 

My first dog was Sugar, a mongrel, in fifth grade. We had a problem because Sugar was chasing and biting college students on bikes, so my parents took the dog back to the pound. I was very upset. This was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Then we briefly had another dog, Cougar, which could not be housebroken. So we had to get rid of Cougar.

Then we got a wonderful dog, Missy, a shepherd collie, when we were still living in Cambridge. We moved to the suburb of Canton, Massachusetts and Missy had puppies. My mother assisted with the delivery! The puppies were adorable.

Missy died in 1959 when I was in the seventh grade, shortly after we moved to Canton.

This devastated me. My father picked me up at the Eliot School. We were on double sessions then because of overcrowding of the schools, and we got out of school at something like 12:30. The first thing I said was “How’s Missy? When is she coming home?” He said, “She’s never coming home.”

I cried all the way home. For the next few days, I was in pain. I would go outside on the back porch, forget momentarily that Missy was dead, and expect to see her, then would remember.

It was a sudden death on the operating table of the vet, who was very sorry about what happened. Missy had had to have an unexpected operation involving a “female” problem arising post-pregnancy.

Right after, we got Robbie, a pedigreed Irish setter. I still have the pedigree. The price was $75, expensive back then.

Robbie died in the mid to late Sixties. Then we got Bambi, a great dog, loyal and smart. Bambi got hit by a car once on Chapman Street in Canton, but recovered. Bambi used to follow me all around the house and was totally devoted to me, as was I to her.

My parents both liked dogs and pets in general and were good with them.

My father taught Robbie, our big Irish setter, things like not to go onto the living room carpet. Usually, Robbie obeyed. Robbie would creep up to the entrance of the living room at the edge of the dining room and would lie there with his paws outstretched almost touching the living room carpet.

My father conducted choir practice at our house every Thursday night. During one choir practice, Robbie snuck into the living room. He used to like to stand up on his hindquarters and put his paws around my father’s neck. He did something of that sort. Whereupon my father said in a firm, loud voice, “Robbie, sit down!”

One of the choir members was Bob Fish, whose other nickname was Robbie. He was startled because he thought my father was talking to him.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    January 2016

 

Roger W. Smith articles, “Notable Sports Figures”

Roger’s articles, Notable Sports FiguresRoger W. Smith, ‘Leo Durocher’Roger W. Smith,’Wesley Branch Rickey’

Roger Smith, student essay on dog Bambi (in Spanish)

 

 

Roger W. Smith, essay on his dog Bambi (in Spanish)

 

 

Posted above is a brief personal essay of mine that was written as an assignment in an advanced course in the Spanish language taught by Professor Susana Redondo de Feldman, Chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Columbia University.

The essay consists of an evocative, affectionate sketch of our beloved family dog Bambi, who was living with my father in Massachusetts when I wrote the essay.

Roger Smith, “Al Anochecer” (“At Dusk”; in Spanish)

Roger W. Smith, ‘Al Anochecer’ (‘At Dusk’; in Spanish)

 

This exercise in creative writing was an assignment for an advanced course in the Spanish language at Columbia University taught by Professor Susana Redondo de Feldman, Chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese  Department.

Professsor Redondo de Feldman remarked, with irony, that the paper was by a would be Hemingway.