Kevin Varrone / Box Score : An Autobiography
6″ X 7.5″ / 88 pages / ISBN: 978-1-940092-07-2 / $15.00
Limited to 150 copies / Signed & numbered by the author
It’s trite to claim “baseball is life,” but in Box Score, Kevin Varrone makes the cliché true. Whether it’s Rip Sewell’s eephus pitch, Mark Fidrych’s eccentricities, Octavius Catto’s bravery or the inner workings of a family, Varrone shows us, in the entwined thoughts that come to mind while watching a Phillies’ game, that it’s in the unique and imperfect that true richness resides, both in baseball and in life.
— Jeff Katz, Mayor of Cooperstown, author of Split Season
Kevin Varrone has said that his favorite section of this app / book is the line score that reads:
g:1 ab:0 h:0 2b:0 3b:0 hr:0 rbi:0 avg:000
On its face, there’s no story here. A batter appeared in one major league game, to no result. But, as ever, it’s the back story that counts. The line score belongs to a man who was called up to the majors and was then immediately called into the Second World War. His achievement in baseball was to appear in that game, not to change it. Kevin Varrone’s line score is more complicated. He tells several stories at once, of his move to Philadelphia and the transfer of his loyalty from the Mets to the Phillies; of his family’s and city’s histories; of the natural worlds of birds and poets; of the sport’s odd words (including the sublime “eephus” and “avoirdupois”); of failure. Among the anti-heroes of this book are Mackey Sasser, Chuck Knoblauch, and Rick Ankiel, players who “forgot” how to throw accurately. Their failures cast the beauties of the sport—its impossibility—into stark relief. The book is a stadium: each section is a prose box recording a score that elevates statistics to a lived music. The stadium—whether Veterans’ or Citizen’s Bank—is Varrone’s Paterson, the basis for this “lights out” American epic.
— Susan M. Schultz, St. Louis Cardinals’ fan
The deep relationship between baseball and language has been remarked many times, but rarely if ever has it been enacted in the writing itself. Kevin Varrone’s Box Score is that enactment. Moment by moment, innings (as it were) of prose poems throw the ultimate linguistic eephus. Play by play wordplay is struck by shards of ash verbal industry. No open-field poem can find the strike zone, and that’s Varrone’s true point. It must go awry and in doing so presents a perfect game. It is rare but imaginable, and worth staying ‘til the end.
— Al Filreis