As part of Take Me Out to Downs Field, slam poets Allen Small and Robert Smith aka Scot Free created an original poem about Downs Field, drawing on the stories and histories shared by community members and baseball players past and present throughout the project. The poem premiered during our Virtual Art Exhibit and Poetry Slam. Watch them perform in the video on the left of this page!
The poem is on display at Downs Field beginning Friday, October 23rd alongside artwork by Cindy Elizabeth. Don’t miss it! Downs Field is located at 2816 E. 12th Street.
It was a gathering spot
But so much more. Like going to the grandest social occasion…
And a game broke out.
It was home
Dirt in the cleats. Stirring up dust devils. Where lessons were learned
Filaments burn light on basepaths
The field cat called past the street light glow
We have gathered at this home for nearly 100 years
Jumpswing with the drumline from the East Austin foundation
Solace is what some find on the East Side of things
No little occasion for the players who played
No little social occasion for the players being praised and the shouts being raised…
He hit it!
She struck him out!
What a catch!
Where would you rather be than here?
While some caught passes, others caught feelings
High school sweethearts wrestle with adult dealings
Where the grass is greener
And you can always find the good foot.
You might not have been born and raised here, but you got here as soon as you could
To see the home of the Black Senators and Black Pioneers
Greyhounds and Indians and Palominos
Huston-Tillotson Rams Baseball
Anderson Yellowjackets High School football
Pee wee football and band practice
Hide and go seek
But you betta not go past the railroad tracks!
So a tip of the cap to watching some of the greatest players
You have never heard of
Willie Wells – El Diablo…Smokey Joe Williams…Toni Stone
Who throws like a girl
Because she was. And the ones you do remember
Buck O Neil…Satchel Paige…Willie Mays
They played in a league of their own and we cannot forget who they are
Or what they did. They were the East Side kids
What we must do is clear
Turn our memories into mosaics
Moments into monuments
Stories into stones. Building foundations that will last through the years
Foundations of a home.
Welcome…to Downs Field.
Home Field is part of a partnership between Six Square—Austin’s Black Cultural District and Forklift Danceworks. The project is supported in part by St. David’s Foundation and the Austin Parks Foundation.
The display at Downs Field is made possible through a partnership with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Learn more on their website or at 512-974-6700.
Images by Hakeem Adewumi. Video by Justin Humphrey.