You can kind of sort of blame Bat-Girl for this one, although indirectly. Today she posted a link to an article about the Twins Caravan, where their bus got a flat tire and stranded Gardenhire, Rick Anderson, Jason Bartlett and Lew Ford in a middle school teacher's lounge for a while, and they sat around chatting baseball and doing crosswords and sudoku puzzles. "Nothing like doing Sudoku puzzles, huh?" said Ford with a smile.
Sudoku puzzles! A baseball player! Wow! That's so cool! I already liked Lew Ford for being a nerd, but that just amused me to no end.
So, as a result, I'm trying to come up with a list of the nerdiest baseball players. This is Seattle MariNERDS after all, right? So, here's the guys I can think of so far -- but I'm sure there are plenty I'm forgetting. I'm mostly trying to come up with people who are active or were active in the last year or two.
1. Curt Schilling
I'm pretty sure that for many people, if you asked "Who's the nerdiest/geekiest/dorkiest baseball player?" the first person that'd come to mind is Curt Schilling. I mean, he's got it all -- he keeps a ton of pitching data on his laptop and sits there studying it in the locker room -- and he's always been kind of dorky -- but, if you didn't already know, Curt not only is president of a tabletop board game publishing company, but he's also a huge video gaming geek, and is quite infamously known to be avid Everquest player, and more recently Everquest II, as he has been known to go around in an EQII baseball cap. Ah, Curt. He's the coolest geek EVER.
Edited in, 1/27 -- from this ESPN Page 2 interview:
Schilling: As a member of Sox Nation, the closer we get to spring training, the less rational and reasonable you are supposed to become. I am fully expecting a two-page column on the current Sox lineup and their projected VORP as it compares to the Yankees.
Simmons: It bothers me that I don't know what VORP is, I feel inadequate.
2. Doug Glanville
I'm calling out Doug Glanville because Curt called him out as being another Everquest junkie. Ever since that infamous Jayson Stark article where Glanville explained that he hit two home runs off Schill for getting his dwarven paladin killed, well, Glan's just been in for the nerddom. But that's not all. There aren't many recent major-leaguers who attended Ivy League colleges, but Glanville got his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. They have a bio of him on their alumni page, describing how strong he was in academics and how he not only got his degree in systems engineering, but continues to work in the field.
3. Todd Pratt
If I call out Doug and Curt, the Everquest trio requires I call out Todd Pratt. (Wow -- notice a trend so far -- these guys were all Phillies for large chunks of their career!) But, Todd has also done a memorable mlb.com interview where he talks about his gaming hobby -- from playing Dungeons and Dragons in the late 70's, to the recent trend of MMORPGs such as Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, and of course, Everquest. (One wonders if the guys play World of Warcrack, but I haven't found anything on that yet.) Anyway, Todd not only dresses up as his D&D persona at rennaissance festivals, but he's even got an entire website devoted to video games and his RPG/etc character Ian Stormbringer. Wow.
3.5 Brian McCann
This isn't really calling him out, but since Tank's gonna be down in Atlanta "mentoring" McCann next year teaching him "good habits" which may or may not include playing MMORPGs, I must repeat how adorkable it was when McCann described hitting that home run off Roger Clemens in the NLDS as "it was really neat", and talking about how he and Jeff Francoeur hung out playing X-Box all night before the game. Though that might not really be all that geeky, relatively, these days -- the other little Braves are also known to indulge in videogames and Star Wars and such.
4. Lew Ford
The man who started this entire post. But even before there was Lew the puzzle nerd, there was Lew the guy who played Doom online, as mentioned in Bat-Girl's article Excuse Me, Haven't We Fragged Somewhere Before?, as apparently Lew went out to dinner with some of his Doom clanmates when the Twins were out in Anaheim once, and confused Gardenhire quite a bit. But even so, people are always pointing out how Lew got a 1400 on his SATs, and majored in computer science and engineering in college, and apparently fixes his teammates' computers from time to time. Even Bert Blyleven calls him "way too smart for baseball". And Lew is always saying crazy dorky things, according to legend, although he would apparently also like people to stop harping about his SAT score. Nevertheless, Lew is a cute goofy nerd, no matter how you slice it.
5. Scott Rolen
Well, maybe not as nerdy as these other guys, but certainly a bookworm. I mean, baseball players reading Ayn Rand? What will they think of next, playing Mozart in the clubhouse? (I'm kidding.)
6. Shigetoshi Hasegawa
If the fact that Shiggy came over to the United States and pretty much taught himself English by diving in and just absorbing the language as quickly as possible isn't enough to convince you of his cerebral nature, perhaps the fact that he's authored several books may convince you? One of which is even how he learned English, which has a priceless cover full of Engrish, but still. Shiggy reportedly kept a ton of books around his locker at all times, on business and on mental strengthening and such. It'll be interesting to see where he heads next in his career with that great mind of his, what with the increase in NPB-MLB relations every year.
7. Jason Szuminski
Actually, I'll be honest, I never heard of this guy until today, but he's apparently the only major leaguer to ever come from MIT. I'm not sure exactly what his status is now either, but he did pitch in several games for the Padres last year. Graduating with an aerospace engineering degree from MIT pretty much automatically labels you as a nerd no matter which way you cut it, though.
While I probably read too many books and articles for my own good, I'm pretty sure I have no clue how many great nerds there are out there in MLB right now, and I'm certainly forgetting people. So, this is where I leave it to all of you. Nominate a nerd!
(By the way, in case it isn't obvious, I consider myself to be a bigger nerd than any of these guys, and I'm not trying to make fun of them. I just think the idea that these major leaguers are also whiling away the offseason reading books and playing games is completely awesome.)