I just had to share the forward to The Baseball Diet Book by Pat Ryan because it was written by Terry Davis, author of Vision Quest, and a professor I studied under in grad school. Someday, I hope Terry writes the forward to my book.
If you’re a baseball fan—or a non-fan with a big heart and a susceptibility to tall tales—plan on smiling through these pages. It’s a reader’s blessing to discover a storyteller who’s as inventive, authoritive and good-hearted as Pat Ryan. If Mark Twain had been a baseball fan, and if he’d had medication to combat his bi-polar disorder, this is the kind of story he’d have written. Will Rogers, too, although I don’t know if he was nuts like that. I can say nuts, because I’m nuts too. Although not as nuts as the character named Terry in Ryan’s story “The Schizophrenic Centerfielder.” I played third.
When my granddaughter’s born in October, I’ll read her these stories as an intro to a kid’s sweet dream of baseball; and I’ll intersperse a vinyl of Blood on the Tracks, one of the great human utterances. Plus, I’ll give her my old Rawlings glove. Plus, when she’s twelve I’ll find her an old transistor radio the size she can hold in her hand, so that when her parents make her go to bed, she can listen to games under the covers.
I know what you’re thinking: “Davis, you can’t write a foreword for Pat Ryan. He’s your friend, for gawd’s sake.”
Sure I can. I don’t like Pat anywhere near as much as I like good writing. I get into the world of these stories, and Pat drops out of my mind like a can o’ corn the shortstop loses in the sun. This is what good stories do, of course: they pull us out of the actual world into their separate world, where a kid named Stats has a magic scorebook and controls the action of the game, say; or a Panamanian catcher named Bob entreats the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to help him hit homers, gets beaned, and in the hospital suffers a vision of the Son, who tells him that prayer is for wisdom and love, not for hitting baseballs.
Wisdom and Love. That’s the battery Ryan sends to the mound. And he’s got Laughter cranking up in the bullpen.