Jan 25, 2005 – – Baseball players turn to crossword puzzles? In the past few years, crossword puzzles have started getting out a bit, leaving the tweed-jacket set in the library and the bookstore for Major League Baseball clubhouses, according to the MIAMI HERALD.

And that’s a good thing, says John F. Murray, a clinical and sports performance psychologist in Palm Beach.

”It occupies the mind in a very constructive, challenging way,” Murray said. “It’s healthy. You’re learning more about the nuances of vocabulary. It’s a challenge.”

On the other hand, maybe it’s just a good way to kill time. Anyone who says baseball is a timeless game has never spent time inside a big-league clubhouse, where players and coaches can spend as many as seven hours a day sandwiched around a 150-minute game. That leaves a lot of time to fill, which is where crosswords come in for most.

Baseball has sure come a long way from the 1950s, when Yogi Berra used to spend his clubhouse downtime reading comic books.

Murray said it’s no surprise that most of baseball’s crossword players are pitchers, especially relief pitchers, because they’re the ones with the most free time. Unlike position players, relievers don’t take daily batting practice — especially in the American League — and they might go a week or more without appearing in a game.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.