Monday, March 04, 2024
Neighborhood: East End, Neighborhood: East Side, Poetry about Bridgeport, Sports

The Ghost of Pembroke Street

One hundred and forty-nine

years old

and Orator Jim O’Rourke

still kneels

on deck

in his turreted Pembroke Street


behind windows



seven syllable adjectives

over his Bridgeport empire

of Jersey barriers

fitted to blockade suburbanite drug trade

on the Park City’s East Side

O’Rourke watches

his Newfield neighborhood


a hobbled ghost too

where no one                                       

plays New England Rules

on the pavement of

his family’s vanished


or cuts a swath

through invisible acres

of corn stalked early October

where he learned Base-Ball and one day refused to sign

until Middletown hired

a farm hand

for his ‘dear ol’ mither’  

and waving goodbye

left home twenty-one years old

arriving in the Hall of Fame

on the other side of a forty-six year

train ride

along the Nineteenth century’s

tobacco and whiskey gilded

base lines

in the summers of the Mansfields Red Stockings, Grays

Giants, Bisons


(gods so old

they’re only box score myths)

O’Rourke got the first National League hit

playing every position

gaining a Yale Law degree

umping, owning


a Connecticut League

those twenty-three years in

The Show

all whittled down

to his one senior citizen at bat

at each Elk’s Club season finale

and the crowd

who every Labor Day

turn out

(once in buggies now in Locomobiles)

to cheer

Bridgeport’s barrister baseballer

their Uncle Jeems

Grand Old Captain of the Game

Orator Jim O’Rourke

steps into the pitch

and shies away


the window

his uniform


mingling with the October ruffled curtains

once more

                        Michael J. Bielawa

Michael Bielawa
Michael Bielawa is a baseball historian and poet. He is the author of Bridgeport Baseball; Wicked Bridgeport; Wicked New Haven; and From Fairfield to Newfield: the Baseball Dream of Orator Jim O’Rourke. He is a Youth Services Librarian at the Bridgeport Public Library.