Bob Locker and the seagull.

bob locker During the 1972 season Oakland A’s pitcher Bob Locker followed the philosophies professed in a book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, that he also encouraged teammates to read as a way of life. The era of beatniks, artists and college students reading Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Herman Hesse and other existential writers was now considered out-of-date and the world of the quasi-philosophy paperback was finally entering the zeitgeist of U.S. culture and another culture not known for its intellectual capacities: baseball.

The premise of the book was simple–there is a seagull named Jonathan who is bored with his daily routines. Jonathan goes through an existential crisis, learns to fly, meets other seagulls who interest him in moral platitudes until he finally learns love, respect and forgiveness all the while embracing non-conformity.

The book was largely panned by critics and the literary crowd, yet I will leave you with a few quotes in order to make your own decision concerning the now largely forgotten novel:

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

“Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

That reminds me of a question that used to stump me, way back then. Which was worse: Jonathan Livingston Seagull, or The Greening of America?

I have fortunately never read either as paperback mush never appealed to me. I have, however, read plenty of books by the authors mentioned in the first paragraph in my late teens early twenties and found them to didactic but at least the authors were entertaining, thoughtful and talented.

That cannot be said for the Greening of America guy.

I’m a big believer in literature. my favourite is Samuel Beckett. With the way that Arts is going, it’ll soon be lost forever. What arts & literature accomplishes which you’ve touched upon in a way that science and math differs is that Science teaches us to look at our environment around us, but the beauty and magic of art, literature is took look inside ourselves. Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten that part. Bob Locker was a genius!

He now lives in Lafayette, California, and enjoys hunting and fishing in his free time.

Bob Locker’s reading list. You never know what you’ll find on your blog.

I remember Locker mostly from his Chicago White Sox baseball cards (which are still in a box here).

I was too young to read his favorite book. Better said, too young and interested in other things to have any interest in it. My preferences at the time were Sporting News, Sport, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune. I knew that this seagull fellow was not for me. Even as a kid, I wondered why Hallmark cards were considered so interesting to so many people.

But I’m not here to knock Locker. The early 70’s were crazy days and if a young man was drawn to this and it inspired him, so be it. No harm in that it seems.

Hey Bruce….if you have any Locker cards from his Oakland days I would love to swap a few autographs for one…or ANY older A’s cards for that matter.

Gary – this made me chuckle out loud. Do you know how long it has been since I was asked to trade baseball cards? Hint: measured in decades. I will take a look for Bob Locker A’s cards.

Thanks Bruce. I may just have to send you an autographed Campy Campaneris that would look swell displayed on your desk.

I never read the book. Sounds self helpish, but I can’t judge since i still listen to Yes, one of my many guilty pathetic pleasures. Anyway, I do love seagulls. Clumsy buggers on webbed feet seem to know their earthly chains are temporary, springing into flight and soaring and what not and holy shit, now I’m sounding like this Seagull book from the 70’s. Ughhhh.

I had never heard of Bob Locker. I dig his mustache and discovered that prior to Oakland, he was a Brewers and a Pilot and holy brewski, he was credited with the first save in Brewers history, early on in that inaugural 1970 season, worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the Chi Sox. Not a bad career for Locker and finding about him is yet another reason why I love your blog Gary!!!! Anytime I can add to my list of banal Brewer trivia, I got one up on my fellow Brewer junkies.

Yeah, it does seem a bit on the corny side with a bit of religion sprinkled in, but who am I to judge? I still listen to Boston!

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