The Beauty of the Game
The game of baseball thrills me. Like so many others, I enjoy the pitcher-batter duels, trying to guess what pitch the hurler will throw next, where he'll try to place it, and how the batter will respond. I love a bang-bang double play, a stolen base, a pick off, and a soaring fly ball (whether run down by an outfielder or powered all the way into the bleachers). Each is a display of skill and perfect timing. Yet I love so much more about baseball than the athleticism and mental acuity of the players on the field.
For my personality, the pace of the game is perfect--sometimes slow enough to allow you to pause and enjoy the green expanse of freshly mowed outfield grass or the perfect geometry of the infield. There's often time enough to relish the soft summer breeze blowing through the stands, the smell of popcorn, and the wide-eyed excitement of an eight-year-old, new to the experience. You've got to be ready, though--the very next moment, play may become so compelling you can't pry your gaze from the battle raging between the mound and the plate.
My hope in writing baseball fiction is to convey all of these sensations and sentiments in ways that rise naturally from the story and in a manner that helps readers experience them as if they're right there in the ballpark, right where it's happening.
But There's More
The baseball fiction I've been writing is not set in the present day, so I really enjoy helping transport
readers into other eras in the life of our country. Cities a hundred years ago weren't the same as they are now. Values and outlooks were different. The aesthetics of the 1890s, 1910s, and 1920s were different from those embraced by twenty-first century Americans, and I love reminding readers of those aesthetics, or perhaps even introducing readers to perspectives they weren't even aware of.
As a result, readers of Over the Right Field Wall and Dead Ball will find some aspects of the stories very familiar--basic human nature, for instance. They'll find other matters somewhat familiar, such as the affinity, even in the early days, between Americans, our freedom, and our automobiles. By 1912, the game of baseball was pretty much the game we know today, yet there were subtle differences that generate fresh interest for those who have pretty much seen it all in our own time. And finally, readers may be surprised to encounter aspects of life and sport in one of these earlier eras that are completely different from what we know and experience today, something from before the age when air travel was common or before baseball players all wore gloves for fielding.
I'm currently working on a third baseball-themed novel. The working title is Fouled Off. It's set in 1927, with prohibition in full force (and hence, speakeasies in every city), the stock market still rising, art deco all the rage, and Babe Ruth slugging sixty homeruns in a single season. A completely different feel from my previous two baseball novels.
Authenticity, Shared Experience, and a Heavy Dose of the Unexpected
So, what I'm attempting to serve up to readers is plenty of authentic baseball (including real players, teams, leagues, and styles of play from each era), but so much more--a full experience of life and struggles during times gone by. Good times and bad, what they wore, what music they liked. I try to capture the moods of the times, whether optimistic or uncertain.
It's loads of fun for me to write, and I hope it will make for many hours of gratifying reading for those who pick up my books.
So, why not let me take you out to the ballgame . . . in 1891 or 1914 or 1927? We'll have a great time, whether our hero's running the basepaths or running for his life.
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