Simon Thompson / George Stanley and baseball

Some notes on George Bowering’s “Two Bits on the Green Guy”

There are many reasons I enjoyed Bowering’s “Two Bits on the Green Guy” in the current issue of TCR. First, at some point in the past, I went to a Vancouver Canadians home game with both Stanley and Bowering. This was when the Canadians were still the triple-A affiliate of the California Angels. I can vouch for Bowering’s description of the behaviour of both Stanley and Bowering at a ball game.

Second, when I was at SFU completing my M.A., Bowering was the second reader on my thesis committee, Dr. Janet Giltrow being my supervisor. I think that Dr. Giltrow asked George to be the second reader because my thesis was titled Time and Space in the Baseball Narrative; it was one of the great pieces of luck in my life that Bowering agreed to help me. Having a second reader who knew both baseball and Superman lore (who even knew these people existed?) proved invaluable during my thesis defense.

Third, I enjoyed being surprised to read that other writers did not know about Stanley’s love of baseball. The game is both elegant and complex, like Stanley’s work, and like one of Stanley’s favourite players, the Mariner’s outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. It’s a game that seems to appeal quite naturally to many writers and philosophers. The game has an unbeatable combination of symmetry and disorder, myth, history, speed and languor. Beyond that, though, I think Stanley might be attracted to the game for another reason, best explained by what Marvin Cohen writes in Baseball the Beautiful: Decoding the Diamond (1976)

Baseball fans, though they live apart in time and space, and most of whom are destined never to meet, constitute a definite community of minds. They inhabit the same baseball sphere, whose circumference is at each fan’s centre. Its roving round universals are a penetration of mystery by a conducted language. Those outside the pale don’t know (43).

Baseball has given Stanley both beauty and community, a centre in a centreless world.

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