"When the fielder loves his record
More than victory for his team
Doubtful chances miss his glances
For his caution is extreme.
Going after every grounder
Means a slip-up here and there,
And in terror of an error
He will choose the chances fair.
Spotless records are enticing
In a ball game as in life,
And the cunning pick their running
To avoid the stony strife.
Many a mortal swaggers slowly
Down the years in proud parade,
Boasting to the meek and lowly
Of the slips he never made.
Well it is that wise commanders,
When they call for sterling men,
Place the workers o'er the shirkers
Though they err and err again.
Men who try and fall when trying
Try again and win at last,
Never brooding, never sighing
O'er the errors of the past."
-- William F. Kirk
Think criticism of fielding percentage is a modern phenomenon, perhaps borne out of hatred for Derek Jeter?
This poem was written in 1917.
(Special hat tip to SABR's Baseball Research Journal for the poem.)