And if you catch that obscure reference, then you’re among the few and the privileged to have read one of the most delightfully jocular and lyrical baseball books ever written: Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball (1976), written by award-winning poet and genuine baseball aficionado Donald Hall. Leave it to Dock to informally refer to legendary pitcher Tom Seaver as “Nancy,” an eccentric and almost inexplicable nickname devised by none other than Ellis himself (201-202). As Hall strives to faithfully transcribe Dock’s commentary on Seaver’s mighty and masculine fastball, the passages read with an almost jarring hilarity–given the feminine pronouns that Ellis cheerfully employs: i.e. numerous appearances of “she” and “her.” Ellis relishes the games when they face off: “I hook up with her all the time. I ask to hook up with her. . . . I get more money beating the best.” A haphazard reader may well be forgiven for thinking Ellis is reminiscing about some casual transvestite acquaintance. What’s more: Dock speaks of Seaver as “Nancy” with otherwise little hint of derision and largely awe and respect. Now that’s a feat.
Hall, Donald, and Dock Ellis. Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1976.