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Everybody Digs Bill James

There was a time in college when my horizon really, truly was beginning to expand. It's funny to think back. I remember seeing a picture of Sam Shepard in some American Anthology of Randomly Selected Things for College Kids. He was wearing a trucker hat and chomping on a tooth pick. I read True West  in a Denny's. I don't think I really understood it, but I liked how the words were put together. He wrote words like cowboy, filthy, and dust with a perfect aesthetic inflection. I liked how he looked and felt.

Right around the same time, different friends exposed me to Bill James and Bill Evans. Bill Evans played piano on the Kind of Blue sessions, so I knew the name. Bill James was foreign. His was a world that I didn't understand. The entire nature of statistically inclined baseball writing has shaped the entirety of my adult life in ways few things have. The same might be said sonically for Everybody Digs Bill Evans.

Kind of Blue was a bench mark. I remember buying it at Borders simply because it had a yellow sticker with a quote that read The Greatest Jazz Album of All Time. It was an easy sell. The slow steady play of Bill Evans set everything in motion. His is the feel of the record. The entire record is a thing of perfect collaboration, but his was the note that hit me the hardest.

My first big introduction to Bill James wasn't the Abstract. It was Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame. As it is with history and circumstance, things have probably happened since my reading of the book to prove or disprove assertions made. Maybe, maybe not. I don't plan on giving it a reread, because I have too many things I need to get around to reading. The point, and it isn't an earth shattering point, is that Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame is my Everybody Digs Bill Evans. It wasn't the first baseball book I ever read and it probably wasn't the best. But it served a purpose and I think about it more than any other.

My quadmate Brent introduced me to Everybody Digs Bill Evans. He sat me down. The room was dark. He made me listen to Peace Piece. It unlocked doors. Bill James unlocked doors. Good art unlocks doors. This is all. These are my thoughts for the afternoon. The unlocked door and the thing that changed my mind about things and stuff. Bill James and Bill Evans are both Bills that played pivotal roles at pivotal times.

Jesse Gloyd, usually can be found writing essays about baseball (among other things) at buckshotboogaloo.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jessejamesgloyd.

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