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Tues, Oct 30, 2001

Year of the Bonds 
Overshadows Foul Ball King


by Luscious Rosenbaum

TOLEDO, OH – His name is Jeremiah Barker, a man destined to attain legendary status in the annals of baseball history. Jeremiah has been a Toledo Mud Hen for twenty years, during which he has struck out and  fouled out. The one thing he has never done in his career is hit a ball fair for a hit or an out. He is the foul ball king.

     With each mediocre swing, he increases his legend. Small boys patrol foul territory at the Hens’ Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo, each hoping that the ball he catches will be the last in Barker’s streak.

      “Everyone talks about the pressure on Bonds to hit 75 home runs and Ripken to keep playin... they ain’t seen pressure,” says Barker. “I’ve got the law of averages and a whole lot of other stuff working against me bein’ able to keep this streak going.”

     After fouling off the first 1,365 balls that he was able to make contact with, Barker broke the record of Gooch Lagrue. “I had the ghost of that bastard Lagrue haunting me the whole way,” he laments. The legend began, however. Soon 1,367 turned to 2,000 foul balls and finally 750,300 foul balls hit -- many of which led to his 55,000 foul outs. “After 2,000 foul balls, I just stopped trying to hit the ball in play. People give you a lot more attention when you’re a monumental failure as opposed to when you’re just average.” In fact, Barker was able to convert his foul ball fame into a franchise of hot dog trucks.

      “The only thing keeping my businesses alive and me in the International League is this hitless streak,” he admits. They say good hitters succeed one out of every three times. A guy who sucks might at least succeed one out of every 20. Barker is 0 for 85,000 with 30,000 strikeouts and  55,000 foul outs. Experts predict that the law of averages is going to get him sooner or later.

      “One slip up and baseball fans will be looking for the next foul ball king,” says Barker. “The next one who looks like me and talks like me, and fouls balls off like me.” One thing that’s for certain: there’s potential for a Cypress Hill song in all of this.

Luscious Rosenbaum, wannabe ball boy superstar.

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