Jack Kerouac: Fantasy baseball junkie
If you haven't seen it yet, you have another month to catch the fascinating Jack Kerouac exhibit at the New York Public Library.
I've never read On the Road, and assumed Kerouac was one of those self-absorbed ARTIST types (you know, like those all talk/no talent kids on Project Runway).
It turns out not only was he rigorously literate in a way none of today's hipster writers are--the NYPL says he devoured the works of "William Blake, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, and Thomas Wolfe"--but he was also profoundly interesting.
I say the latter mainly because of his devotion to fantasy baseball.No kidding--I couldn't believe my eyes when I hit the last section of the exhibit, and saw a giant sign with the words Fantasy Baseball emblazoned on it.
Turns out he spent most of his childhood waking hours, and a big chunk of his adulthood, playing a meticulous version of fantasy baseball he invented himself.
He did things like:
-Track every at-bat from every game in a simulated 8-team league over a 50+ game season;
-Write, layout and print entire newspapers filled with articles about his league;
-Gin up fake letters to the managers of real teams proposing purposefully ridiculous trades.
It's astonishing--and I'm not sure why every profile of Kerouac doesn't start with this startling biographical fact. After all, he did once say his life's greatest ambition was to be a sportswriter
Frankly, it increases my admiration for him... I never knew beatniks could have this type of discipline.
It does make you wonder how many books Kerouac could he have written if he wasn't so obsessed with his fake baseball league.
Photo of Kerouac sign from the exhibit's opening. Photo of NYPL employee just looked interesting.