When pressed for biographical details the player known as Val Hitherto will offer only that he "moved around a lot as a kid". This may or may not be true. His Lift teammates, however, know that Hitherto is a time-traveller from the 2Xth Century, where he worked (works, will work) in the intersection between art history and quantum physics as an Art Rescuer.
In the Authenticity Economy of 2XXX museum curation is a cutthroat business. The biggest players will pay huge sums to specialists who can cast themselves back through time with extreme precision, scooping up long-lost cultural artefacts in the last milliseconds before they would otherwise have been destroyed by fire, military action or natural disaster. It remains a controversial practice, but the major museums present it as "proactive conservation" and charge big money to view these works not seen in centuries.
Hitherto made his name, whatever that will be at the time, by recovering three Titians and a Velasquez previously regarded as lost in the Alcázar de Madrid fire of 1734. By 2XXX he was (is, will be) something of a celebrity with his dashing, devil-may-care approach and a reputation for delivering the goods against impossible odds. This reputation was tarnished when it came to light that he had developed a technique for Rescuing a work, then Rescuing it again a few milliseconds earlier; for some years he had been delivering one original to the museum funding the operation but keeping another for his own private appreciation.
It was difficult to prove that any crime had been committed, since Hitherto had on every occasion adhered to the letter of the contract, but his actions sparked an international crisis. In a society based on monetising scarcity, the powerful museums' claim to exclusive ownership of any given artwork was no longer guaranteed. Worse was to come when Hitherto's double-dip algorithm was leaked and widely shared. Within days the market was flooded first with lost Titians, then with countless identical examples of extant Monets, van Dycks and Picassos, fatally undermining the global cultural-economic system.
A disgraced Val Hitherto fled to Now to evade the clutches of Prado-Guggenheim Corp, the HermitageMet Consortium and a legion of private investors whose prestige and net worth had collapsed overnight, their hitherto valuable paintings now legally indistinguishable from those on tens of thousands of walls worldwide.
With the Tokyo Lift
It is difficult to reconcile Future-Hitherto's playboy image with the odious little squirt who swaggered into Stijn Strongbody's Tokyo lab, unless eye-rolling, sniggering and the ability to start a fight in an empty room are considered suave in the 2Xth Century.
It is also unclear whether he approached the future Lift captain with a view to playing blaseball or just to pick his brains as a world-renowned mathematician. Hitherto was able to escape the Future with some, not all, of his time-travel technology; this is much less reliable than his full rig, and he seemed reliant on Strongbody's help and indulgence for the extremely complicated calculations required to use it. What Strongbody sought in return has not been disclosed.
Our present time period is regarded as a safe harbour for temporal fugitives because it is (will be, will have been) so poorly understood by future historians. Academics in 2XXX describe a fundamental breakdown in consensual reality which prevents the objective and precise evidence-gathering possible in the centuries before and after. It is an ideal place for Hitherto to live in anonymity, or would be if only he could resist the limelight. Instead the nebulous realities of Blaseball offer a stage for continued fame in the Now while remaining vague and unpindownable to future historians, enemies and law enforcement agencies.
Hitherto began his splorting career as an irritating pitcher, a braggart less adept at delivering the ball than he was at riling the batter into mistakes. Asked by journalists about Hitherto's insufferably smug on-field persona, Gerund Pantheocide shrugged and asked what they meant by "on-field".
Hitherto was often late to the pitcher's mound. Unlike teammate Grollis Zephyr this was not due to executive dysfunction, but to his propensity for being accidentally-on-purpose recruited into the Prussian Hussars during the second Schleswig War. During one away game against the Breckenridge Jazz Hands spectators were puzzled when Hitherto appeared to have grown a full beard between the fourth and fifth innings. He explained it as "just a condition I have, it's the altitude". Lift players speculate that Strongbody had some mechanism to immediately recall Hitherto from his time-travels, based on the occasional sight of him pitching in a cardinal's robes or a Regency ballgown and muttering darkly that he "was in the middle of a thing".
At the end of Season 14 Hitherto was moved into the Tokyo Lift's Shadows. Several explanations were offered for this, the most convincing being that given by a furious Nandy Slumps which media outlets delicately summarised as "for his own continued good health". In an attempt to keep him out of trouble, Hitherto was put in charge of the Legscraper's Beef Wings snack outlet. To the team's surprise - and his own undisguised disgust - Hitherto made the concession a success, adding a "Cursed Franchise of the Year" award to his earlier trophy for "Blaseball's Most Slappable Face". In time he was forced to recruit many other Shadowed players to meet growing customer demand.
Even with this distraction Hitherto continued to command media attention, with regular speculation about his being cut from the team altogether. At one point he seemed set for a return to active play, only for rookie Kit Honey to be handed the spot in mysterious circumstances.
It was late in Season β24, after nearly ten Seasons in beef wings exile, that Hitherto made his comeback. Hearing of an imminent Night shift, Hitherto burst from the beef wings van; as cameras turned to follow the commotion he sprinted through the crowd and vaulted a fence onto the field. Bearing down on a helpless Kit Honey, Hitherto tore off his sauce-stained beef wings apron, threw it in the outgoing batter's face and turned, arms spread wide, to reveal a t-shirt custom-rhinestoned with the words "DID YA MISS ME, BINCHES?!?!"
Hitherto played out two-and-a-half games as an unremarkable batter before plunging into the Black Hole (Black Hole).
Off the field, Hitherto's fashion sense is eclectic. He often combines a vintage cavalry jacket with ill-matching garments from different time periods, accessorised by chunky tinted goggles which may be part of his time-travelling apparatus. He continues to collect, but mostly for adventure rather than profit, and with a current emphasis on European military uniforms of the 18th and 19th centuries. He is still searching for period boots that can accommodate elevator heels. The contemptible little weasel frequently poses as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army circa 1822 in order to score more of those sick epaulettes.
Hitherto has volunteered little information about his private life in 2XXX, beyond that he is "very single" there and "likes beautiful things". Among current and former Lift teammates he is most readily tolerated by Engine Eberhardt and fellow pitcher-turned-batter Grollis Zephyr. He had a complicated rivalry with art thief Silvaire Semiquaver and a straightforwardly antagonistic one with Nandy Slumps.
Hitherto occupies several corners of the notorious Tokyo Divorce Polygon, a diagram chaotic both in its complexity and, in Val's case, its chronology. On at least three occasions he has been (will be, will have been) acrimoniously divorced from himself. He is often the butt of teammates' jokes and is routinely blamed for the team's misfortunes, something the nauseating homunculus absolutely deserves.