On the Unintended Consequences of Hack Wilson’s Gut

This Man Is Drunk

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Mickey Kefauver’s forthcoming biography of Hack Wilson, The Aching Beauty of an American Sot. Kefauver’s work contains multitudes, and among those multitudes is a walking tour of Wilson’s gut. By “gut” I do not mean any sort of belt-straining protuberance, but rather the life and ultimately self-immolating work of Wilson’s innermost innards.

Let me share a couple of passages. First, this medical revelation upon Wilson’s being hospitalized in 1933, for drunkenness in general and suspected Catholicity in particular:

It turned out that those medical professionals were wrong: the man had “auto-brewery syndrome.” His stomach contained so much yeast that he was making his own in-house brew, literally.

Hack Wilson was a drunk, but he was a drunk not of his own volition, you see. A bounty of yeast had turned his belly parts into a craft brewery, and so the gut-beer flowed without ceasing, like the prayers of the already damned.

Second comes this, when Kefauver, in the service of a more soaring narrative, shifts momentarily to the second person and in doing so snatches the reader up by his tailored lapels:

But he was dying when he called you, from a progressive fibrosis of the lungs brought on not by smoking — he never smoked — but, 
apparently, by years inhaling the alcohol fumes that surged up from his gut.

It was indeed the gut-beer that killed Wilson, but not by daily sieges upon the liver or even the boozy crash of a motor-car. You see, Hack Wilson died because he was overtaken by stomach fumes without ceasing, like the damnations of a prayerful man.




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Handsome Dayn Perry can be found making love to the reader at CBSSports.com's Eye on Baseball. He is available for all your Twitter needs.


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canuckassassin
Member
canuckassassin
2 years 9 months ago

I can’t believe auto-brewery syndrome is actually real

Mr. Observant
Guest
Mr. Observant
2 years 9 months ago

I write this with no small measure of trepidation but how much beer must one drink in order to be afflicted with this condition? And isn’t this a research project that BeerGraphs is best suited to research? You should apply for federal funding and, oh, never mind…(sad emoticon)

Everything's Amazin
Guest
Everything's Amazin
2 years 9 months ago

Way too much setup for a weak punchline.

pinch
Guest
pinch
2 years 9 months ago

it has nothing to do with how much beer you drink, either. this is just something that happens — you have a lot of yeast in your digestive system, you don’t put it there via alcohol.

Mike Green
Guest
Mike Green
2 years 9 months ago

“suspected Catholicity”

In the first or second degree? In some states, you could spend years in hoosegow for first degree biscuit-biting.

When scouts looked at Hack’s mug, did they report back that he had the “bad face”?

Mickey Mantle
Guest
Mickey Mantle
2 years 9 months ago

It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that doctors routinely sterilized patients for yeast before all types of surgery, including knee surgery.

Just thought you should know.

fireal20
Member
fireal20
2 years 9 months ago

Why is Hack Wilson sporting duck-face?

Four Eyed Jackson
Guest
Four Eyed Jackson
2 years 9 months ago

But Hack’s 1930 season would win a lot of people’s roto leagues.

56 HR

146 Runs

191 RBI

.356 BA

Will Trout or Cabrera put up those numbers next year? Even if you cut them all by 10%, and figure Trout’ll get 35 SB’s … I can’t see them coming up with this kind of fantasy value. Hack was the man way back then.

Hitler but Sadder
Guest
Hitler but Sadder
2 years 9 months ago

I think that RBI total has fluctuated in the past few years.

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