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Spring 2024 Edition
Alumni & Friends Magazine

A Perfect Game

Exploring twin passions of the Bard and the Detroit Tigers

Jeff Kallett | April 11, 2024


Shakespeare and Baseball by Samual Crowl
Image courtesy of the Ohio University Press

In a new book from Ohio University Press, “Shakespeare and Baseball: Reflections of a Shakespeare Professor and Detroit Tigers Fan,” OHIO professor emeritus Samuel Crowl writes about his twin passions: literature and baseball. The book focuses on the Tigers, aspects of Crowl’s academic career, and connections between Shakespeare’s work and baseball itself (including beer consumption). One anecdote, excerpted here, captures both Crowl’s time at OHIO and his enthusiasm for America’s game.

Although Crowl is a die-hard Tigers fan, living in Athens for more than 50 years has meant catching the occasional live game in Cleveland or Cincinnati rather than Detroit. On May 15, 1981, he attended what turned out to be a historic game in Cleveland when the then-Indians played the Toronto Blue Jays.

“The great hulk of a stadium resembled a haunted house,” writes Crowl about the old Municipal Stadium. “As we headed to our infield box seats ten rows or so behind the Indians’ dugout, a voice called out ‘Professor Crowl’ and I turned to be greeted by Tony Grossi, a former student, who graduated in 1979 from the School of Journalism at Ohio University.” Grossi was a rookie reporter filling in for a regular Cleveland Plain Dealer writer that night, and Crowl notes that he seemed “a bit amazed to see his old Shakespeare prof in the crowd.”

By the end of the fourth inning, Crowl noticed that Cleveland pitcher Len Barker had a no-hitter going. “By the 6th [inning,] the tiny crowd realized what was up as well, though because we were keeping score, we realized that not only did he have a no-hitter working but also a perfect game.”

If baseball had been invented earlier, William Shakespeare would have been the greatest baseball writer of all time and Samuel Crowl would have become a professor of baseball. Crowl’s memoir of his life’s passions is a grand slam.

Tony Grossi, author and ESPN sports analyst

Crowl’s short, thrilling depiction of the crowd’s fever pitch and the bedlam that ensued is masterful—small wonder from someone who has spent a career teaching Shakespearean drama. And thanks to Grossi, Crowl’s perfect game scorecard was signed by Barker. Grossi even signed the Plain Dealer front page story that he wrote.

A perfect game indeed.

Jeff Kallet is the sales and events manager at the Ohio University Press.