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Not a Jock – Miguel Batista

June 21, 2010

Please tell me Batista's at-bat song is "Havana."

The Not a Jock column is an homage to those ballplayers whose interests or attitudes deviate from the cookie-cutter professional athlete who’s got two Hummers, lists his favorite book as a gossip magazine or The Bible, and eventually gets pulled over for speeding while drunk.

The previous NaJ talked about Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s passion for biking. Today we hit up Miguel Batista, journeyman pitcher…and writer/musician. Oh, hell yes.

The musician stuff first – a lot of ballplayers play the guitar. Clay Buchholz got press for it recently. Barry Zito, Bronson Arroyo. Let’s not forget Scot Spiezio’s heavy metal band Sandfrog. Jack McDowell played with Pearl Jam. Bernie Williams routinely plays jazz guitar in concert (here are some samples of his stuff on Amazon) and collaborated with Bruce Springsteen on a project.

But Batista plays the saxophone, which he took up while in Toronto. While with the Mariners, Batista started taking two-hour private tutorials at the University of Washington. His idol, sure to cause some eye-rolling and sniggering, is Kenny G, whom Batista met during spring training 2008. You can download some of the sweetness from Batista’s website.

It’s Batista’s writerly side that piques my interest. On his website, Batista (or his publicist) claims that he’s the only Major League Baseball player to have poetry published. Possibly, unless you’re counting Derek Bell’s epic postmodern narrative, “The Houseboat,” which begins “Groctober is the cruelest month, my muffin-tops.” Actually, Fernando Perez, the Rays’ once and future fourth outfielder, will most likely publish a collection of poems. He majored in American Studies at Columbia University, and finished the creative writing program there. Cripes, anybody who can drop John Ashbery into an article for Poetry Magazine has my complete and undivided attention.

Batista doesn’t have Perez’s erudite pedigree, but he does have a book of poetry, Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro (“Feelings in Black and White”). Sentimientos was published by MCB Producciones, a Chilean company that seems to specialize in photography. His novel, Ante Los Ojos de la Lay literally translates to Through the Eyes of the Law, but Trafford Publishing decided to give it a catchier title – The Avenger of Blood – for its September 2006 release. (Though Trafford Publishing seems to be big into self-publishing these days.)

Batista may not be the first Major League poet, but he is the first Latin-American ballplayer to publish poetry. And he’s got grand designs. His webpage, which shows Batista in various outfits and looks of poetic ponderings, contains the tantalizing paragraph, “His first novel, Two Hearts, One Destiny, a love story he finished when he was only sixteen, has yet to be published, along with many other of his writings.”

And there’s also a video of Batista with a horse. Just riding a horse. In grainy footage. I feel like every website should include grainy footage of a guy riding a horse.

Whether or not the content is any good, it’s just impressive to have a professional athlete be so open about interests that don’t involve hunting or video games. Good on you, Batista! Now apologize to me for flat-out destroying my fantasy pitching staff in 2004. I mean, come on. Ninety-six walks?

(By the way, just to piggyback on the ballplayers making music, Bernie Williams’s rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is pretty awesome.)

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  1. Poets Priests And Politicians | Designated Sitter

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