"Writing is exciting and baseball is like writing."
Fernando Perez, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder and Columbia University grad, tells the the St. Petersburg Times what's on his World Series night stand:
"Are you staying away from heavy plots during the playoffs?
Actually, what helps me a great deal right now is poetry, like Robert Creeley and John Ashbery. "
This isn't the first time the "baseball beatnik" has stepped up to the plate for poetry.
Perez was the subject of a New York Times profile earlier in the post-season, and there he expressed admiration for Herman Hesse, Annie Dillard, and Howard Zinn. In a Columbia alumni magazine article from 2007, Perez extolled the virtues of Lyn Hejinian's "My Life."
Perez is the first Columbia grad to play in the majors since Lou Gehrig and is primarily a speed and defensive replacement (though with Joe Maddon's Rays, you never know what might happen). In the minor leagues, Perez kept an online journal.
Here's a taste:
"In this way I see baseball as an 'anti-modernity.' It feels as though the men who play and stay in the game indulge in a counter culture, the lifestyle in which all you have to do each day is play. It's rustic. These are reasons why I'm here."
All of which serves as a reminder of "Sports," Kenneth Goldsmith's verbatim transcript of a 2006 Red Sox-Yankees radio broadcast, "Yo-Yo's with Money," Ted Berrigan and Harris Schiff's UA book of drugged out play-by-play, and, of course, Marianne Moore.
UPDATE: A visit to Open Books reminds me (how could I forget?) that Kansas City Royals sidearm slinger Dan Quisenberry wrote poetry, and that Dock Ellis (not Bill Lee. Thanks, Ryan.) threw a no-hitter while on acid, which is sorta like writing poetry. Also: "The Crowd at the Ball Game" from Williams' Spring and All.
Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...