Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Jack Kerouac: Manager of the Pittsburgh Plymouths

In a league of his own making, the famous writer cast himself as the skipper of a (fantasy) Pittsburgh ball club.




photo shutterstock

 

Sometimes the line between fact and fantasy can be blurry. So is the case of Jack Kerouac’s largely dreamy connection to Pittsburgh.
Recently, I went to the Carnegie Library to get a copy of Kerouac’s 1957 classic “On The Road.” I forgot that it was a novel; the librarian set me straight. The beat-era classic feels like a memoir — but a fictional character named Sal Paradise narrates the rambling-around-America tale, not Kerouac (although they often seem very similar). 

It gets more confusing when you look at “On The Road: The Original Scroll,” the “legendary first draft” published in 2007. In the original, typed 1951 version — described as “rougher, wilder and racier than the 1957 edition” — the names of the people such as the “holy con-man” Neal Cassidy and the poet Allen Ginsberg haven’t yet been changed to Dean Moriarty and Carlo Marx, respectively, and Kerouac himself is the first-person narrator. It’s closer to non-fiction.

In the 1957 version, there are chapters; in Chapter 13, after spending some time out west, Sal Paradise catches a ride in a new car driven by “a fiddler for a California cowboy band ... It was the fastest, whoopingest ride of my life,” Sal says, before he’s dropped off in Hollywood. “Then I bought my bus ticket to Pittsburgh. I didn’t have enough money to go all the way to New York. I figured to worry about that when I got to Pittsburgh.”

In both versions, Jack/Sal meets a female passenger on the bus; “we necked all the way to Indianapolis,” he reports. She gets off in Columbus, Ohio; our narrator then writes, “I slept all the way to Pittsburgh. I was wearier than I’d been for years and years. I had three hundred and sixty five miles to hitchhike to New York and a dime in my pocket. I walked five miles to get out of Pittsburgh and two rides, an apple truck and a big trailer truck, took me to Harrisburg in the soft Indian Summer rainy night.”
 
In his journals, “Jack Kerouac: Windblown World,” he writes about another frugal visit to Pittsburgh in 1949: “In a hot noon I got off the bus to wait for the Chicago coach. Walked in downtown Pittsburgh to find a cheap lunchroom. Was already weary from the night’s traveling. I found a lunchroom and had two 5 cent cups of coffee with some of my sandwiches.”

Although Kerouac seems to be often weary in Pittsburgh, he also has an interesting connection to the city through a fantasy baseball league he created in Lowell, Mass. He imagined an elaborate national sports league with teams named after cars and colors; he made up the Boston Fords, the New York Chevvies and Philadelphia Pontiacs, among others. He created players and statistics, using cards, marbles and darts to determine the outcome of invented games. He listed himself as manager of the Pittsburgh Plymouths, with players like Paul “Sky” Tibbs, Rob Sokolka and Gus Texas, among others. He apparently kept playing through this imaginary league all his life.

This unusual, somewhat secret activity, which The New York Times called a “hobby,” was explained and celebrated in the 2009 book “Kerouac At Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats,” written by Isaac Gewirtz, a curator at the Jack Kerouac Archive at the New York Public Library.

Kerouac passed away in 1969 at age 47; he was famed as an author, but sadly unrecognized for his fantastical connections to Pittsburgh’s sporting scene. 
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Waste Not: Kelly Lane's Fashion Designs are Eco-Chic

After noting how much fabric ends up in landfills, Pittsburgh designer Kelly Simpson-Scupelli found a way to incorporate the unused scraps into her fashion line.

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Comments

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Comments

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

The owners of the Bloomfield vegan eatery introduce a limited run of whole sunflower heads that you can eat like corn.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

Ah, the good old days. They may be gone, but there are still a few places where you can get a blast from the past.

Comments

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments


Revisiting Fat Head's

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

Comments

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

The new driving-range game is way over the top, but the game it's offering is fun and they'll ensure you have a good time.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
In Ben They Trust

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

Comments

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Ryan Shazier's battle back from a paralyzing injury last season and his subsequent rehabilitation from spinal stabilization surgery is a more compelling saga than the Steelers’ quest to reach Super Bowl LIII.​

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Comments

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

These proposal faux pas serve as a reminder that sometimes things have to go wrong to end up right.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

Comments

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Comments