Great American poet Walt Whitman was once a baseball beat reporter
Walt Whitman, who would've been 200 years old today, is about American as it gets. Historians have said that you can't really understand the country's history without understanding his work. He's been called America's father (and mother). So, it makes sense that he was connected with America's pastime: Baseball.
He mentioned the game in his most famous poem "Leaves of Grass," he told us to leave our lonely apartments and "get better air in our lungs" out on the ball field and, in June 1858, he moonlighted as a baseball beat reporter for the Brooklyn Daily Times. Here's a snippet below, you can read the entire account over on MLB historian John Thorn's site.
"The game played yesterday afternoon between the Atlantic and Putnam Clubs, on the grounds of the latter club, was one of the finest and most exciting games we ever witnessed. The Atlantics beat their opponents by four runs, but the general opinion was that the defeat was as much the result of accident as of superior playing."
Atlantic won 17 to 13 and, as you can read in the full story, the "result of accident" was because nearly every single player got injured.
This whole Walt Whitman beat reporter thing got us thinking, though: What if Walt was in the press box today? What would he think of the designated hitter? The shift? Would he vote for Barry Bonds for the Hall of Fame? Would he wax poetic about the Philly Phanatic?
Hell yeah he would.
Matt Monagan is a writer for MLB.com. In his spare time, he travels and searches Twitter for Wily Mo Peña news.