With a new $142 million dollar contract with the Boston Red Sox, outfielder Carl Crawford can now pursue his decades-long dream of running an antiquarian bookstore. After being introduced by the Red Sox in Boston last week, Crawford immediately stepped into the car of his real estate agent, investigating possible locations.
Crawford's passion for New England history began at Jefferson Davis High School in Houston when he read William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation in the 9th grade. "At Jeff Davis at that time, it was very much the old Bercovitch reading of history that dominated. To prepare, I'd read The Puritan Origins of the American Self in eighth grade. Eventually however, I wanted to return to the primary materials."
A multi-sport star in high school, Crawford taped a passage from the first page of Plymouth Plantation to the inside of his helmet.
"Ah yes, I still remember it. 'Some times by bloody death and cruell torments; other whiles imprisonments, banishments, & other hard usages; as being loath his kingdom should goe downe, the trueth prevaile, and ye churches of God revert to their anciente puritie, and recover their primative order, libertie, & bewtie.'"
While Crawford's new financial security plays a role in his decision to open his store now, location plays a still more vital role.
"I'm a Houston guy, always will be, and I had a blast in Tampa. However, those really weren't the places for this side of my dream," Crawford said.
"It's not only that most of the old archives, private libraries, research collections, and book dealers in seventeenth century books are on the East Coast... there's also the spirit in the air. Sure, you can run a great bookstore in Tampa. Yea, there's a strip mall out on the highway to Orlando that's perfect," Crawford said, laughing.
Dressed in a heavy fisherman's sweater and clutching a newly purchased diary of 1655 Connecticut Governor Thomas Welles, Crawford could not divine his fundamental motivation.
"Well, how can you divide the history and wisdom contained in these books, from the books themselves?" Crawford said. A regular at fine book fairs across the country, Crawford is a three time seminar participant at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester Mass. with a special interest in book history.
"Ultimately, I'm a businessman, which people don't always understand. I have my personal collection and then I have the store. Yes, I'll pour over this 1711 almanac for a few days, but that doesn't mean I won't sell it for a 5% profit."
And, the most important question, about New York?
"Let's just say I've practically given away all of my Washington Irving," Crawford jokes.
On Monday morning, Crawford plans to visit the Special Collections Reading Room at the Houghton Library, Harvard. "Probably my 50th time there," he jokes. This time, he's bringing his checkbook, his personal book appraiser, and new Red Sox teammate Kevin Youkilis.