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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cardboard Gods: Wilker: Win Remmerswaal

Any truth to the rumor that Bill James felt Win Shares was so damn complicated he was going to name it Win Remmerswaal?

Win Remmerswaal was the most memorable of the young pitchers who existed solely as names in the back of the team yearbooks I read as a child. I never saw him pitch and don’t remember noticing him registering in a box score. He appeared in only 22 major league games. But I do remember the name. The first name could not be simpler, a distillation of everything life was supposed to be aiming toward, clean and clear as an ideal: Win. The second name meandered, complex, unpronounceable but impossible to resist trying to pronounce; it beckoned, a magic spell if said correctly, everything about it a tangle of knowable and unknowable, remembering and swaying and wailing and All, the opposite of an ideal, the dream-drunk wooze of real: Remmerswaal. Who was he? Where was he? When would he arrive to bring change?

...The other day, I gave up trying to write about Win Remmerswaal. I had been at it for some time, failing. The dour, fearful strain in my voice, the part of me that when I write is like a mediocre guitar player (which, as it happens, I am) playing the same tired blues lick over and over, unable to break through to some new way of feeling, is tempted to present his story as evidence that life only dissolves. He never hooked on with any permanence in the majors, never completely engaged the talent he was blessed with, blithely squandered his chances, meandered onward, out of the game. Several long, hard years followed, leading directly or indirectly to him suffering a debilitating stroke and falling into a coma in 1997. Wanting to know more about what happened next to Win Remmerswaal, I right-clicked the “translate to English” option on a feature on him at a Dutch website:

  When, after a few weeks awoke, his brains and nervous system so badly damaged that it for the rest of his life in a wheelchair is designated to be fed and limited him to communicate falls.

Repoz Posted: April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, red sox

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Bob Evans Posted: April 12, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4105022)
In the essay, he links to a nice SABR bio of Remmerswaal that's well worth a read.
   2. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: April 12, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4105171)
I just finished "Bottom of the 33rd," the book about the long Pawtucket-Rochester game in 1981. The part about where Remmerswaal is now was the saddest part.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 12, 2012 at 06:39 PM (#4105282)
From said SABR bio, the Dutch call baseball "honkbal." And Win's brother Hans played soccer for Spijkenisse in the Hoofdklasse. I love the Dutch.

The Flemish, on the other hand, I do not care for.

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