Ohio rock god Robert Pollard is primarily known for two things: writing roughly one rock ditty per day and consuming appalling amounts of brewski during every Guided by Voices gig. Not as well known is that Pollard was once an ass-kicking baseball hurler for Wright State University in his hometown of Dayton—indeed, one time he threw a no-hitter, made the newspapers and everything!
The date was presumably May 11, 1978, the opponents Indiana Central. The score was 9-1. It was the first no-hitter in the history of the Wright State baseball program.
Magnet Magazine‘s Matt Hickey caught up with Pollard and ran him through a brief no-hitter catechism. Amusingly, Pollard (quite credibly) claims that he didn’t realize he had a no-hitter going until his teammates mobbed him after the final strikeout. Furthermore, his dad recently tabulated Pollard’s finest pitching performances stretching back to childhood, apparently he had 12 no-hitters over the years! We’ll want to get a fact-check on that pronto!
Magnet also found time to mention that GBV has a record coming out on February 18 called Motivational Jumpsuit.
I’ve known for years that Pollard is a closet jock. Pollard and I have friends in common, most notably his former bandmate and current Cobra Verde frontman John Petkovic. I can’t believe that this interview is still online (enjoy the ridiculous 1998-ish HTML!), but here’s a lengthy sports-obsessed interview with Pollard and Petkovic conducted by “Chin Music” (whatever that is). Based on the references to Marquis Grissom and Paul Assenmacher, I’d put this interview right after the 1997 season, but I could be wrong.
Robert Pollard: So the singer’s the pitcher?
Chin Music: Yeah, like Johnny Rotten, or even Mick Jagger.
RP: Well I did have a live arm. In college I had a 95 mph fastball.
CM: (incredulously) Oh c’mon! 95 mph? Oh, cut it out.
RP: Really, I could throw a football 70 yards. A baseball 95 miles an hour. Honestly, my dad thought I had a golden arm. He used to milk it down every night like (in crusty old Burgess Meredith voice) “You got the golden arm…” (much laughs all around) That’s why he was so disappointed when I went into rock. He was like “Ya’ bleeeww it!...Ya’ had a golden arm, but YA’ BLEW IT!!!”
(big laughter action)
CM: ...But did you have a breaking ball?
RP: Seriously, I did throw 95 miles an hour in my senior year in high school, and in my summer of Legion ball I popped a tendon in my elbow, but I still continued to pitch in college, for Wright State in Dayton. I threw a no-hitter at Wright State. I never threw as hard, I bet I threw only 85-88. I used to warm up before games—my brother used to catch me, he’s five years younger than me—and I warmed up with a croquet ball.
CM: (laughs) That’s a mean thing to do to a little brother!
It goes on from there at some length.
A cursory search of the Internet yielded this obscure GBV song about baseball, appropriately titled “Look, It’s Baseball”: