(A parody, with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

The Slugville Cubs were famous for the homers they had run;
For ten years straight they'd held the prize for being Number One.
But suddenly their coach expired before the final game,
A new one came from out of town; Jim Jackson was his name.

Now, Jackson was an honest man, forthright and always fair.
Some rules he changed; the sponsors claimed, "We do not have a prayer."
Yes, it is true the coach they lost had picked the very best
To star in every tournament, excluding all the rest.

And on that day in ninety-two the sponsors gave no praise
When Jackson said with fortitude, "Now everybody plays;
For don’t you see no boy can learn if he’s denied the chance?
No Cub of mine will I subject to unkind circumstance."

So, it surely did look doubtful that the Slugs would win that time;
The game was nearly over and the score stood eight to nine.
Ramón was hugging second, little Butch was safe on third;
"We’ll need a miracle to win," was Stephen’s solemn word.

Alas, it seemed that Fate ordained the Slugs would lose that day,
For it was Johnny’s time to bat, first tournament to play.
Three times it was he’d been to bat, nine times he’d struck in vain;
The zealous mob had hoped and prayed he would not try again.

The crowd began to chide and taunt -- in anger they did shout,
Demanding Coach to put Chuck in, throw little Johnny out.
And little Johnny hung his head, but when he looked around,
He saw Coach Jackson give thumbs-up, a smile and not a frown.

There was a change in Johnny as he fiercely gripped the bat,
His scrawny frame defiant as upon the ground he spat.
He tipped his cap just like a pro; he jutted out his chin,
Determination in his soul to help the Sluggers win.

It’s true the sponsors found the ball at least three miles away,
And it is true they thanked the coach for letting Johnny play;
But best of all, the Slugville folks have taken up the stance
That everybody, large or small, deserves an equal chance.

Copyright © 1994 Ruth Gillis

"Little Johnny Gets A Chance" received a First Place Award in the
August 1995 issue of The Inspirational Poet;
and a Second Place Award in the November 1996 issue of Poet's Review.

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