Miguel Batista: pitcher, poet, novelist

The first thing that came to mind in January when the Cardinals announced they signed Miguel Batista to a minor-league contract was this:

Tino Martinez and Miguel Batista - April 20, 2003

(In retrospect, that probably was Tino’s finest moment as a Cardinal, right?)

Next, I remembered last summer and the whole “Miss Iowa instead of Miss Universe” comment Batista made when he started a game for the Nationals instead of Stephen Strasburg. Actually, since the Miss Iowa who then traveled to Washington to meet Batista and throw out the first pitch at a Nationals game is from the Quad Cities like I am, I probably heard far more about it than those not living in the D.C. area. Batista was even mentioned in an editorial in my local newspaper.

Miss Iowa USA Katherine Connors and Miguel Batista - July 30, 2010

I also knew that Batista turned 40 right after spring training began, which makes me appreciate him too. Once a player reaches 40, he’s automatically someone I like. (You’ll see what it’s like once you turn 40.)

But what I didn’t know about Batista, and what really makes me root for him to make the Cardinals, is that he’s a writer. Not just any kind of writer — a published poet and novelist.

I learned about the poet part on Wednesday while listening to the Braves radio broadcast, during the two scoreless innings pitched by Batista. He wrote a book of poetry called “Feelings in Black and White (published in Spanish as “Sentimientos En Blanco Y Negro” and currently unavailable on Amazon.com, unfortunately). Now, no doubt the Braves announcers read this straight from his media guide biography — which I subsequently looked up as well.

Even better (to me) than the fact he’s a poet is that he published a novel in 2006 — a crime novel called “The Avenger of Blood.” And it is available on Amazon, and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth a $26 investment. (Free shipping, since it’s more than $25!) Here’s the description of the book:

There are many things that cannot be proven through the eyes of the law, but through the eyes of humanity, they are the law.

Thomas Santiago, a fourteen-year-old boy with the carefree existence typical of most boys his age, is accused of committing a series of shocking murders. From that moment on, his life becomes a churning nightmare of death full of questions without answers.

So begins Miguel Batista’s thriller The Avenger Of Blood, a heart-pounding ride as the author takes us down into the darkest depths of the human soul, and forces us to question everything we thought we knew about justice and the mysterious paths of faith.

There are two reviews of it on Amazon, one a five-star rating and one a four-star rating. (No mention, though, of Tino Martinez being the inspiration to write a book with such a title.)

It turns out there also is a Miguel Batista website (although it hasn’t been updated in several years) that includes a couple of his poems and some relaxing music that he also created. Somehow I failed to know that Batista has been “one of the greatest players in world baseball ever since” he made his debut in 1992.

But it is true he’s having a good spring for the Cardinals. He’s pitched in three games, thrown four innings and only allowed one run. He was the winning pitcher in yesterday’s Cardinals walk-off wild pitch win over the Twins and seems to be on track for making the team as a reliever.

Which is good — now that I’ve learned all this about him, I want to be able to get to know the man who’s “Dominican by birth, pitcher by profession, poet by vocation” — and 40 years old — all the more. After looking at the picture of him on his website, how could you not?

Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or e-mail aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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