Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats
In these records of his imaginary horse races and baseball games, and in the publications that accompanied them, we see both a true sports fanatic and a fledgling writer beginning to spread his mighty wings.
— Isaac Gewirtz
As a child and adolescent, Beat writer Jack Kerouac expressed his love of sports by creating rich fantasy worlds centered on baseball and, briefly, Thoroughbred horse racing. He recorded the exploits of his imaginary horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners in tout sheets and news sheets for only two years, 1936 and 1937, but he continued to develop his baseball game, which he probably began playing at age nine, until the end of his life. In his baseball “publications,” he provided detailed biographical histories for the fantasy players, coaches, managers, and owners. Several series of colorful team and player cards reflect the evolution of his teams and their rosters over time. The game itself mirrored to a remarkable extent the myriad rules and tactical possibilities of Major League baseball, and Kerouac recorded the precise details and statistical possibilities of hits, outs, pitches, and numerous kinds of fielding plays in a series of charts.
Featuring fifty reproductions of Kerouac’s horse-racing and baseball “publications,” score cards, team cards, and diagrams, drawn from The New York Public Library’s Jack Kerouac Archive, Kerouac at Bat is an insightful exploration of a little-known obsession of the celebrated author of On the Road.
Isaac Gewirtz is Curator of The New York Public Library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. He is the author of Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road, the companion volume to an exhibition of the same name that he curated at the Library in 2007. Dr. Gewirtz received his Ph.D. in Renaissance History from Columbia University.
76 pages, 50 images 4-color throughout. Published by The New York Public Library, 2009.
Hardcover. $25.00. ISBN 978-0-87104-462-4.
Available online from The Library Shop