Wednesday, March 04, 2009


How many things have been written about Elvis? Millions, right? But do they ever mention what a fine fastball pitcher he was? In all the excitement, it seems to be forgotten. No one from Memphis, or wherever the hell he was from, could execute the split finger fastball with the same velocity or precision. Maybe ‘Smokin’ Joe Wood, a Red Sox man, who reputedly threw a 124 ft/sec screamer, but doing that eventually made Smokin’ Joe’s arm go gimpy. And are they talking about Smokin’ Joe Wood at the National Enquirer these days?  I thought not.

Elvis might have loved baseball as much as Wood, but he had another dream, too: he wanted to play the guitar. And he was enough of a baseball scholar to know of Screamin’ Joe, and was smart enough to know that a gimpy arm was too high a price to pay for a 124 ft/sec screamer, even with the roar of love from the bleachers above, and that a man with a gimpy arm is not a man who is playing a fantastic guitar that would make the girls go limp in the bleachers, or the balconies, the Jardin du Luxembourg, Honolulu or what-have-you–all of which he wanted to do. 

And so Elvis gave up baseball, and devoted himself to the guitar: years of disciplined devotion, working to hone and perfect a craft that was every bit as difficult and exacting as music, ballet, film, theatre or anything anyone could aspire to. 

His dedication was singular. And so, after years of painstaking practice, he became, let’s be honest, a fairly mediocre guitar player. Almost lousy. Yes, 'lousy' would not be too strong a word to describe the guitar playing prowess of this young blond baseball player. Still, he did become a very good singer. Seriously good, almost by accident–you might call it a 'happy' accident, in fact. You know, if he had wanted, he probably could have kept playing baseball and everything would still have worked out the way it was supposed to. After all, who needs an arm to sing? Nobody does. It’s a shame, sometimes, how things turned out, sort of.

1 comment:

Pearl said...

neat. I never woulda thunk it; Elvis too had widely divergent optional paths.

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