Commentary: ‘A Line-Up For Yesterday’ updated for March Madness today


In January 1949, Sport magazine published Ogden Nash’s poem “Line-Up for Yesterday: An ABC of Baseball Immortals.” Each stanza — each letter of the alphabet — is dedicated to a different baseball legend. The following is a version updated for recent years:

A is for Alcindor,

Not yet Kareem:

The best collegian ever,

And on the best team.

B is for Bills:

Russell, Bradley & the Big Redhead;

Six combined Final Fours,

Plus the world’s tallest Deadhead.

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C is for Curry,

Of Davidson College,

B.C. (Before Curry),

A team beyond our knowledge.

D is for Dean,

An appropriate name

For the consummate leader

In the college game.

E is for Ewing,

The most illustrious Hoya;

Three Final Fours

For that big boya.

F is for the Fab Five,

Twice to the Final Four;

Alas, one called timeout

When they had zero more.

G is for God Shammgod,

The maddest Madness name;

Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje,

You’re second in this game.

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H is for Hurley

If you’re a Duke man;

Hansbrough, instead,

For a Tar Heel fan.

I is for Me,

Jewish and Five-seven;

Playing wasn’t an option,

But bracketing’s been heaven.

J is for Jordan,

Who shot down Georgetown,

Then did a few more things

With the ball that is round.

K is for the coach

Known simply by that letter;

What else could it be for?

Who has been better?

L is for Larry v. Magic,

1979;

Forty million watched,

And the game changed for all time.

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M is for March Madness,

My favorite alliteration;

Just ask any sports fan—

That needs no reiteration.

N is for those nutty names:

Shockers, Salukis, that Fightin’ Blue Hen;

But I’m sorry, please remind me

What’s a Billiken again?

O is for Olajuwon

(Akeem, not Hakeem)

With Drexler, et al.,

A Phi Slama Jama dream.

P is for the pools

Into which my cash goes;

How does Julie from Accounting

Keep winning all of those?

Q is for ’Cuse,

A perennial power,

With a two-three zone

That makes opponents cower.

R is for the Regional Final

In 1992:

G. Hill to C. Laettner

And then much ado.

S is for Sampson,

All 7 feet-4 of him;

Three player-of-the-year trophies

As the best in the gym.

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T is for Thompson,

A.K.A. “Skywalker,”

Whose defender would go

From defender to gawker.

U is for UNC

And UK and UCLA,

And for the upsets that befall them

Any given March day.

V is for Valpo

And Valvano and Dickie V.

They’re awesome, baby!

What fun V has be!

W is for Wooden,

The Wizard of Westwood;

10 titles in 12 years—

He was surely the best-good.

X is what I draw

All over my bracket

Despite hours of research;

The code, I can’t crack it.

Y is for Yukon,

Where the Huskies roam;

Who cares ’bout proper spelling

With all those banners in your dome?

Z is for the ’Zags,

No longer Cinderellas:

What a way to end a list

Of March’s finest fellas!

Wolman is a writer and longtime college basketball fan based in Austin.

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