The endless curiosity of Joe Polacco, MU professor emeritus and poet

Jul 10, 2019 262

In center field of a rundown and unkempt baseball field near Gravesend Bay, New York, in 1956, a 12-year-old Joe Polacco was bored during batting practice. A hit ball rarely traveled his way, and he began pacing to pass the time. He noticed rocks jutting out from the field, and when he kicked one over, it revealed a black widow spider underneath.

Polacco, who would one day become a poet, author and professor at MU, sprinted from his position in center field to a pile of equipment and snatched a baseball box, which he carried back to center field. He coaxed the black spider with the red hourglass on its abdomen into the box and brought it home to add to his collection.

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