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Beat author, Lowell legend and bobblehead doll?

By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.

Sun Staff

LOWELL Jack Kerouac's sports credentials are well-documented.

As a boy from Lowell's Pawtucketville neighborhood, the acclaimed author grew up playing sandlot baseball and even devised his own baseball card game.

He later starred on Lowell High School's track and football teams before earning honors as a baseball player for an exclusive New York prep school. Kerouac also spent a brief stint on Columbia University's football team before beginning the rambling period that served as the basis for On the Road, one of the seminal works of the beat generation.

He even spent the winter of 1942 as a sports writer at The Sun.

Those events in his life already have been chronicled in literature, art, music and film.

Now, Kerouac's athletic credentials will be commemorated in an entirely new genre: the bobblehead doll.

The Lowell Spinners, in conjunction with the UMass Lowell English department, are declaring Thursday, Aug. 21, Jack Kerouac Night at LeLacheur Park. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Kerouac bobblehead doll.

"What better than a Jack Kerouac bobblehead?" said Spinners public-relations director Jon Goode. "Not everyone gets the bobblehead made of them. It's quite the honor."

On that night, the Spinners, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, will play the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters, which is a member of the Pittsburgh Pirate's farm system.

Seats are sold out, but $3.50 "standing room only" tickets still are available. For purchasing information, call 978-459-1702 or visit

"The baseball team has turned literary on us who would have thought it?" said UMass Lowell English professor Hilary Holladay, director of the Kerouac Conference on Beat Literature.

"I thought it was a great idea from the start," she said. "Kerouac appeals to people of lots of different ages and backgrounds, just like baseball does."

Even John Sampas, the literary executor of Kerouac's estate and the brother of his third wife, has given his OK to the idea.

"Besides being an author, he was an all-around guy," Sampas said of Kerouac. "He was a great sports enthusiast, too. Certainly, Jack would love it."

The bobblehead doll itself is about 8 inches tall. The figurine sports a full head of black hair and stands on a copy of On the Road, pen and notebook in hand.

"I have a bobblehead here at my house, and I'm quite pleased to have it," Holladay said. "The bobblehead fits with Kerouac because he was such a rhythmic guy. He loved music. He loved the rhythmic speech of good writing."

Kerouac isn't the only person honored with a bobblehead by the Spinners this year. The team has also given away bobbleheads of former Spinners and current major-leaguers Shea Hillenbrand and David Eckstein, and also planned is a Harley-Davidson bobblehead.

Michael Lafleur's e-mail is .