Baseball season has opened with great fanfare and fun. It's a myth that Shakespeare knew about "our national pastime," but it's likewise a myth that Abner Doubleday invented it.
Nonetheless, Shakespeare has gobs to say about the game, as Earl L. Dachslager of Woodlands, Texas revealed a decade ago. Mining the Bard for baseball nuggets, Dachslager found that William Shakespeare, characteristically, viewed the game from every possible perspective.
He saw that the center-fielder can be confident of a ball coming his way, "And so I shall catch the fly" (Henry V) -- even if it takes a diving attempt to "catch it ere it come to ground" (Macbeth).
On the mound, the pitcher peers at a lead by a runner on first, thinking -- or at least hoping -- "You have scarce time to steal" (Henry VIII), while the first base coach is shouting, "Run, run, O run!" (King Lear).
Shakespeare, ever even-handed, identified most with the umpire and official scorer. From behind the plate, we hear "Strike!" (Richard III) and sometimes "You may go walk" (Taming of the Shrew). And up near the press box is the official scorer, who may decide either "A hit, a very palpable hit!" (Hamlet) on any play, or "O hateful error" (Julius Caesar). Yet no official scorer should be so confused, or indecisive, as to conclude, "Fair is foul and foul is fair" (Macbeth).
In the late innings of a game, a pitcher often comes to feel, "My arm is sore" (Antony and Cleopatra). A new pitcher coming to the mound from the bullpen can hear a teammate say, "For this relief much thanks" (Hamlet).
When the baseball season ends, another type of contest begins. The best players say to their owners "Let my deeds be witness of my worth" (Titus Andronoicus), while the more average players feel much like the character in Romeo and Juliet, "I have no joy in this contract."
Meanwhile, though, we 'ball fans think of the game as only the Bard could express, "O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!" (As You Like It).