Robert Snow (photographer),
Eli Ackerman (writer)
What do Major League relief pitchers and Australian pharmaceutical salesmen have in common? Two things: They have to wear long-sleeved shirts to cover their tattooed arms, and Peter Moylan has been both. This spring, Moylan is entering his fifth big league season as a setup man for the Atlanta Braves after an unorthodox journey to the Majors that included a stint working for the man back in his native Perth, Australia.
He prefers the Majors—except perhaps when he’s in Philadelphia. That’s where he was heckled mercilessly about his tattoos while hanging out in the bullpen before a game (you can see the video on YouTube). “Those guys are brutal in Philly, they do their research,” Moylan says with a good-natured laugh. “They knew things about me that I didn’t know about me.”
The incident took place a year before tattoo artist Brandon Bond, of All or Nothing Tattoo outside Atlanta, did his research and convinced Moylan that he was in need of some serious “turd polishing.” Between games, Moylan gave his non-throwing left arm to Bond for a series of sessions.
“Now I have some real art,” he says of his sprawling, colorful sleeves that include a fleur-de-lis and the names of his kids. The elements were included only “on the condition that I give up some blank space for the guys to really do something original.” So this year, he’s going to get something on his back, and he’s leaving it almost totally up to his artist. “As long as it’s not just naked chicks and violence, I’m ready for anything,” he says—except perhaps this baseball geek’s suggestion that he get tattooed with his stats from the mound at the end of every season until he fills up his back to look like the flip side of a baseball card. It’s probably not the aesthetic he’s going for, but that’s just as well, since Moylan’s stats have been a work of art in their own right. He’s got a career ERA of 2.45, and opposing batters hit just .231 against him. And though his sleeves will be covered with sleeves on the mound, you won’t be able to miss Moylan this year; his unorthodox sidearm release will no doubt help the Braves out of many late-inning jams.