Miguel Batista: The Pitcher Laureate

by Greg in

seattle-metropolitan.jpgNOTE: This month's Seattle Metropolitan magazine features an article by yours truly about Seattle Mariner's pitcher Miguel Batista, the major league's only published poet and author. With permission from Seattle Metropolitan I'm able to share a copy for readers of Codball (click here for the actual copy from the magazine).

The Ms’ new mound man mixes sliders and similes

The Mariners have hardly been poetry in motion of late; they’ve finished dead last in the American League West for three seasons. But help is on the way: The team has signed a pitcher who’s a deep thinker as well as a hard thrower. Dominican-born Miguel Batista, the veteran right-hander signed in December, didn’t just win eleven games for Arizona last year. He’s also the first active major leaguer to publish a book of poetry, as well as a murder mystery. Cerebral Seattle, which has embraced Ichiro Suzuki as the thinking fan’s ballplayer, now has a player appealing directly to its bookish side. As Batista’s former manager at the Toronto Blue Jays once told USA Today, “He’s a different cat.”

With Batista expected to take the number-four spot in the Ms’ rotation [actually now it's three], local fans should be able to gauge his pitching in mid-April. Local readers will have to look harder to find his slim volume of verse, Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro ("Feelings in Black and White"), from MCB Producciones in Buenos Aires. We found a used copy online and translated its contents. Sad to say, Miguel Batista is not another Borges or Cervantes, though he invokes both of them in his dedication. His sentimientos are mostly love poems, sometimes brooding, often tinged with sadness, but always looking on the bright side. In them, a curve is more likely to describe a woman’s body than a pitcher’s secret weapon. But Batista the poet still extols the never-say-die hustle that may carry Batista the pitcher through: Remember that discouragement poisons hope and that he who perseveres to the end will succeed. And he seems to reach out to Seattle’s long-suffering fans: I would like the power to save / the souls in agony / who sustain the hope / of improving some day.

If Batista’s pitching carries through on that promise, he may wind up signing books and balls together down at Safeco Field. —Greg Shaw