• Allan Shedlin

On Baseball, Ken Griffey Sr., and Finding A Black Father's Joy

Guest Post by E. Ethelbert Miller

Poet, Writer, Teacher, and Literary Activist

PHOTO CREDIT: Kurt Smith, courtesy MOHAI. Original caption dated May 18, 1989: "Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. stand for a father-and-son portrait till (see other photo) dad gives the kid a bad time about his recent notoriety by covering Junior's face." Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection image number 2000.

I’ve written a number of poems about Black men. In my work, one will find poems

about fathering. In baseball, the relationship between fathers and sons is best

captured by the game of catch, the throwing of a baseball back and forth between


Sadly, the joys of black fathers are too often interrupted by gun violence and police brutality. My poem "Lost in the Sun" uses baseball as a metaphor to illustrate this point.

In writing the poem below "Ken Griffey Sr.," which will be published next year in the third book of my baseball trilogy How I Found Love Behind the Catcher’s Mask (City Point Press), I wanted to present the joy a black father finds in his son’s achievements.

Parents pave the way for their children. Everyone dreams of their children entering the Hall of Fame. May black fathers be given back their sight.

Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images


Even before my son turned his cap backwards

I wanted to keep him close. Keep an eye on him.

I didn’t want to worry beyond the outfield like other fathers.