After reading “The Pitcher” by Robert Francis, consider how the poem itself works the way a good pitcher does. Which lines illustrate what they describe?
Robert Francis’ “The Pitcher” delivers to the reader just as a major league pitcher delivers to the batter. Francis uses fine description to force the reader to visualize the actions of a pitcher and reflect on his or her motivation and purpose. “The Pitcher” dives deep into the mind of a baseball pitcher and how it varies from any other position player.
Francis focuses heavily on the deceptive nature that a pitcher must play with. He describes in depth the mental battle of anticipation and reaction that goes on between a pitcher and a batter. “His passion how to avoid the obvious, His technique how to vary the avoidance.” (Francis 648). This line goes in depth concerning the pitch selection versus pitch anticipation that a pitcher and batter go through.
Francis goes on to highlight how a pitcher’s mission and mindset varies from every other player on the field as his or her actions are meant to be misunderstood instead of properly anticipated. “The others throw to be comprehended. He throws to be a moment misunderstood.” (Francis 648). This line invokes an image of a shortstop throwing a runner out at first base where both thrower and receiver need to be on the same page as opposed to a batter guessing fastball when the pitcher is throwing curve.
Francis’ description of the battle that occurs between pitcher and batter at every throw is very deep. The description has tones of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in its deep dive into the deceptive nature of a successful pitcher. It does well to contrast pitcher from position player. The descriptive nature of this poem invokes strong visualization in the reader.
Francis, Robert. “The Pitcher.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, edited by Michael Meyer and D Quentin Miller, 12th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s 2020, p. 648.
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