Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. Always the soul hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instill is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men,—that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for always the inmost becomes the outmost,---and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgement.” THE ESSAY ON SELF-RELIANCE. NY: Roycrofters, 1908. pp. 9.

James Quinlan: As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by how athletes respond under duress -- when the crowd’s screaming at the top of their lungs; when the game’s at stake; when the championship is on the line; when the count is full with the bags loaded in a game that’s all tied up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth -- how a single choice that someone makes can alter not only the career and course of their own life but also that of others as well.

Robert Frost: Nothing flatters me more than to have it assumed that I could write prose--unless it be to have it assumed that I once pitched a baseball with distinction. They don’t let me do all the things I want to anymore, but if we had a ball, I’d pitch to you a little, and I’d surprise you.

Walt Whitman: I see great things in baseball. It's our game--the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.

David Nemec. The Beer & Whiskey League -- Baseball's Renegade Major League: I have always been more fascinated by how and why things happened than by what happened. Consequently, much of this history of the Beer and Whiskey League dwells on the volcanic relationships and interactions among the characters who were part of its making.

James Quinlan: The most difficult task in all of sport is to strike a round hardball solidly and with authority using a rounded club, especially when the ball is traveling ninety-plus miles per hour, all-the-while dipping, sinking, cutting or sailing; not to mention trying to hit a curveball, slider, splitter, spitter, knuckler, change-up, forkball, screwball, or God only knows what else; and if that’s not enough, there's the fear factor, whether conscious or subconscious, of the brush- back, high-and-tight-one, or even the beanball, intentional or not, that can bruise, break a bone, or even kill you. Ah yes, baseball, the non-contact sport -- good for the soul but tough on the body.

Vin Scully. For Love of the Game, the movie with Kevin Kostner as Billy Chapel: After 19 years in the big leagues, 40-year-old Billy Chapel has trudged to the mound for over 4,000 innings. But tonight, he’s pitching against time, he’s pitching against the future, against age, against ending. Tonight, he will make the fateful walk to the loneliest spot in the world, the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium, to push the sun back into the sky and give us one more day of summer.

Roy Hobbs played by Robert Redford in The Natural -- Life didn’t turn out the way I expected.

Bill Weiss: Among my greatest pleasures was being president of the Peninsula League in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1959 to 1984. The league was organized by a group of major league scouts and financed by major league organizations. The players were young professionals under contract and a few of Northern California's top prospects -- free agents still in college. The Peninsula League sent several players to the majors, including Joe Morgan, Willie Stargell, Ken Caminiti, Tom Candiotti, and Mark Parent.

   In 1948, Bill Weiss was chief statistician of the class-D Longhorn League and box-office manager for the Abilene Blue Sox of the West Texas-New Mexico League. Two years later, he became stats-man for the Far West and California Leagues. Weiss served as official statistician for the Pacific Coast League, president of the Peninsula League, wrote articles for Baseball America, joined The Society of Baseball Research, and co-authored the 100 Greatest Minor League Teams of the 20th Century. In 1977, he was named “King of Baseball” by Minor League Baseball and in 2004, awarded the Tony Salin Memorial Award, given annually by The Baseball Reliquary to a person who dedicates their life to baseball history.

   Everybody wantʼs to be a ballplayer.

Late summer, 1970 -- San Mateo, California -- The Peninsula League.

   The Daly City Phillies were running away with the pennant for the second year in a row. Ace pitcher Bob Wilson was nearing the end of his first year as a professional and was projected to be a starting pitcher for the Walla Walla Phillies of the Northern League the following spring. He was working on a two-hit shutout when San Mateo Twinsʼ number three hitter stepped up to the plate. San Mateo teammates began howling and taunting the fireballing pitcher: Throw him a fastball! Throw him a fastball! after three consecutive curveballs bounced in the dirt before reaching home plate and sending the count to 3-0. Get that fucking pitch over the plate where I can get at it, grumbled the batter as the next pitch harmlessly sailed up and away for ball four. Previously, the hitter had doubled off the wall and launched a screaming frozen rope into the left-centerfield alley for another two-bagger, the Twinsʼ only two hits of the game. A week later, the San Mateo right-hander took the mound and struck out ten while tossing a nifty three-hit, 2-1 victory over the South San Francisco Giants.

   The 10 Kʼs were part of 343 amassed in a single year, a Northern California record that stands to this day. Among his 343 strikeouts were 160 compiled that spring while at college, a school record that led all college pitchers in the nation. All toll, the righty had established more than two dozen records in both the hitting and pitching departments, half of which have withstood the test of time and still stand.

   For his efforts, the lanky twenty-year-old free agent received an invitation to attend spring training with the Minnesota Twins in Melbourne, Florida. The moment he had been waiting for all his life; his childhood abstraction of becoming a big-leaguer was one step closer to actuality ... but he was a no-show and just disappeared. The game that he loved; the game that he vowed to live and die for; his raison d'être ... just died in his arms that day. What the hell?

St. Matthew 7:15 KJV “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

St. John 1:5 KJV “And the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
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THE EXISTENTIAL BALLPLAYER

PROLOGUE