Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sean Doolittle: A Reader's Reader Who Loves Indie Bookstores

Nationals Pitcher Sean Doolittle
I realize that I'm more than a bit prejudiced when it comes to my opinion that avid readers are a special breed. But it's a chicken-and-egg thing; are they special because they develop so much empathy from all that reading, or is it that particularly empathetic people are naturally drawn to reading lots of books?  I'll probably never reach a conclusion on that part of my theory, but my broader theory that readers are special is one I find pretty easy to defend.  In fact, over the last twelve years I've collected almost 100 stories about readers and compiled them here on Book Chase under this "Readers" label. 

And that brings me to the latest, a story about Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, an athlete on a one-man mission to save America's independent bookstores one store at a time.  The Wall Street Journal (no link provided because the complete article is behind a subscriber firewall) featured Sean in an article this week in which the pitcher explains what he's up to:

"Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle found himself mired in an unusual predicament for a professional baseball player during spring training: He needed more books to satisfy his enormous appetite for reading - and he couldn't find a local bookstore near the team's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla..."
"Forced to settle for a nearby Barnes & Noble, Doolittle decided to embark on a project. He vowed to seek out an independent bookshop on every road stop this year and share his adventures with his Twitter following of nearly 100,000.  The idea began as a way for Doolittle, a two-time All-Star, to take advantage of a job that allows him to travel to cities around the country. It has allowed Doolittle to use his platform as a famous athlete for a cause that matters to him." 

Doolittle is on a quest to support the kind of local business that is active in its community and offers it the kind of "all inclusive" space that makes a community feel like family.  He wants to publicize those bookstores and help get the word out that readers still have choice when it comes to buying books; not all books have to be purchased from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Doolittle considers these places "important fixtures in their communities" and wants to make sure that they thrive so that others will be encouraged to open up bookstores like them.

Sean Doolittle is my kind of reader, and he proves one more time that readers are special people.


  1. What a cool story! I've never heard of this guy, but how fabulous that he chose this as his mission. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Baseball probably lends itself to this kind of thing more readily than any other sport I can think of. Players are on the road for half of every month between March and September so they have a lot of time to kill. I remember a young pitcher on the Yankees a few years ago who was reading dozens of books every baseball season and talking about them. This kind of thing makes it OK for kids to be a bit nerdy - when they see some of their heroes embracing their own inner nerdness, good things will happen.

  2. And Moe Berg attended the Sorbonne, Yale, and Columbia Law School during the off season. :)

  3. I love that, Jenclair. Talk about a well-rounded person...Moe Berg was one of the roundest apparently.

    A few decades ago the Yankees had a player by the name of Bobby Brown who worked on medical school during the off season, and after baseball he practiced medicine for the rest of his life.