I am a huge baseball fan. In fact, I love baseball far more than I love the drums. There is no contest. I’ve been a New York Yankees fan for many years. I started out in the late 90’s as a contributing writer for Baseball-Almanac. After a while I wrote a Yankees column titled “The Pinstripe Press” (hence my email: email@example.com). It was then that I fell in love with the history of the franchise. A few years later I won a writing award for an essay I penned on my favorite player Lou Gehrig. I also published an online fan newsletter dedicated to the team and got serious into collecting Yankees baseball cards. Several years ago I posted a portion of my collection (900+ cards) here. What does this have to do with drumming? Stay with me…
Professional athletes, in any sport, are required to perform under immense pressure. Each player has their own way of dealing with the stress. Some listen to music while others meditate. Some players even play a musical instrument. Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees played the drums, at the ballpark, prior to games. Guidry was more than good and he was allowed to keep a trap set on hand where he would play with the same level of proficiency that he showed on the field.
As a standout left-handed pitcher Guidry was nicknamed “Louisiana Lightning.” His career lasted 14 years (1975-1988) and he played every one as a member of the New York Yankees. He won the American League’s Cy Young Award in 1978, as well as five Golden Gloves. He also appeared in four All-Star Games and was awarded the Robert Clemente Award in 1984. You can see Guidry’s complete career stats here. He served as captain of the Yankees from 1986 through 1988 and his number 49 was retired by the team. Years after his retirement, Guidry returned to the franchise as a pitching coach from 2006-2008.
According to an article linked on Zell’s Pinstriped Blog: “Guidry played the drums when he was with the Yankees and he was skilled enough to perform once with the Beach Boys as a drummer in a post-game concert. But playing the drums also benefited Guidry’s pitching. ‘I kept a set of drums at Yankee Stadium for one reason,’ said Guidry. ‘Playing the drums kept my wrists very strong, and a strong left wrist allowed me to throw my slider more effectively.’” It is clear to see how drumming can benefit the athlete through its physical and mental requirements. Other ballplayers who also play the drums are Paul O’Neil, Evan Longoria and Mark Teixeira.