Escape artists alike: relievers, super heroes

INSIDE THE ORIOLES

June 22, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

If you look long and hard enough, finding a pitcher's opponents batting average with runners on base, two outs, a 1-2 count, jets flying overhead, wind blowing in, and a 1-0 World Cup game nearing its conclusion shouldn't be a problem.

Baseball statisticians, relying on high-tech computers, have charts for just about everything these days.

But the one category that isn't available is the one Orioles left-hander Jim Poole might top the charts in.

That would be IQ. If Poole were found to have baseball's highest intelligence quotient, nobody who knows him would be surprised. At the very least, he would be a candidate for highest IQ for a left-hander.

Poole juggled his baseball career and his studies efficiently enough to earn an electrical engineering degree from Georgia Tech.

The man can think. So, what does he reach for when really in the mood for some provocative reading?

Kierkegaard? Descartes? Machiavelli? Tolstoy? Plato? Eisenberg?

Good guesses, all of them. Wrong, all of them.

He reaches into his vast collection of comic books, sits back and escapes.

Poole has been collecting comic books since he was in the seventh grade. His collection grew as large as roughly 4,000 comic books before he sold off about 1,500 as a means "to reduce inventory in my parents' house."

He has an X-Men poster in the back of his locker.

"When I'm down about the way I'm pitching, which has been often this season, I contemplate, what would Cyclops do in a situation like this? What would Wolverine do?" Poole said.

He is so well-versed in the world of super heroes, he did not have to pause when asked for a scouting report on a few of his fictional heroes:

* Wolverine: "He is a mutant, and his mutant ability is the ability to heal very fast. Also, in his mystery-shrouded past, his bones were laced with the strongest-known metal alloy in the universe. His bones can't break. When he goes into what is called a berzerker rage, he starts tearing things up."

* Cyclops: "He's a mutant and the leader of the X-Men. When he is solar-charged, his eyes shoot ruby-colored laser beams. He wears a ruby quartz visor to block the beams."

* Beast: "He is a super-strong, super-agile mutant. When he mutated, he grew blue fur. He also is a super-genius. He quotes famous literature when he's beating up the bad guys."

* Legion of Super Heroes: "They are futuristic super heroes. They are all teen-agers. Super Boy is their idol. They all came together as a young group to help the cosmos."

Right.

Poole said he hopes his son, Austin Montgomery Poole, 1 1/2 , reads comic books when he learns how to read.

"You would be surprised how good the vocabulary is," he said. "I'll stumble on a word I've never heard of, look it up in the dictionary to make sure there is such a word, and sure enough there is."

The comic books broke the tension for him at Georgia Tech.

"Having them shipped to me in college was a godsend," he said. "It was nice to have a little escape from all the electrical engineering textbooks."

Poole once tried to sell a bundle of comic books to one of the stores owned by Orioles minority owner Stephen Geppi, who made his fortune in the comics industry.

"Small world," Poole said. "A few years later he became one of my bosses."

Poole enjoys reading comic books but will leave the writing to others.

"I don't think I have the creative capabilities to write one," he said. "I have much respect for those who can write them."

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