“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every week.
Today, we get the answers from Sam Miller, co-author of The Only Rule Is It Has to Work, an excellent book about running an independent league baseball team. We reviewed that book here, and asked the authors a few questions about it here. Sam is the editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus, the coeditor of Baseball Prospectus’s annual guidebook, and a contributing writer at ESPN The Magazine.
1. When was the last time sports made you cry?
The last time I can say for certain I remember was in 1990, when I was playing in the Mustang division of Pony League baseball. I was going through a period of not being able to lay off high pitches, and I swung and missed at a pitch that was over my head for strike three. I felt like the biggest loser, sitting in the dugout and crying over a stupid strikeout, but later in the game my best friend — who was much cooler, much stronger, much better at baseball, and much more emotionally resilient than I was — also struck out and also cried. I’m not sure I’d ever seen him cry, anywhere, for any reason.
2. What’s your most treasured piece of sports apparel or memorabilia?
We got a special hat if we made the All-Star team, and I made exactly one All-Star team so have exactly one All-Star hat. It’s tattered and creased, but I’ve carried it around with me all these years as a reminder that there was one single year I was famous enough as a baseball player to be mentioned in the newspaper. I recently moved, and when I unpacked the hat I loosened the snap and realized at its largest size it still fits. So I’ve been wearing it, which is more satisfying than keeping it in a box of memories.
3. Competed in any sports lately, at any level?
Slow-pitch softball. Putting 23- and 55-year-olds together in the same league changes everything, because instead of size, skill, or natural athleticism, the only variable that matters is how old you are. All the 23-year-olds are faster, stronger, and more vigorous than all the 50-year-olds. I’m young enough (relative to the group) that all my old weaknesses as a player are now strengths.
4. What’s your desert island sports movie or book?
Is Rounders a sports movie? If it isn’t, then A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee.
5. What do you like to eat and drink while you watch sports?
6. What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to watch or attend a game?
The greatest lengths I’ve gone to are probably all to listen to games on the radio, trying to get reception on a Walkman in the woods, or listening to 98 percent static to hear a few extra pitches as we drove out of range. As a kid, I listened to plenty of entire baseball games where maybe 20 or 30 percent of the play-by-play was actually audible.
7. Ever caught a foul ball?
Only in games I was playing in.