Goodnight Moon was the first book I “read.” I probably had it memorized and just parroted it back to Mom and Dad. Starting in second grade, right after my family moved to Springfield, I bought Pete Rose’s Winning Baseball and read it from cover to cover dozens of times. It’s still on the bookshelf in my Royals room. As a dad, I remember reading The Monster at the End of This Book to Kaylea and Sophie as well as several Sandra Boynton books and all seven books in the Harry Potter series.
Reading spurs big dreams.
In the spring of 2017, thanks to an incredible opportunity with the Baseball Seams Company, I read some of my baseball poems at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. One night while watching my beloved Royals lose, inspired by the dream trip to Cooperstown, I had an idea: Write a book of Springfield-based poems to benefit Ozarks Literacy Council. For fun, I had already written a couple of poems about the Queen City. I decided to jump into the project with both feet.
Brad and I grew up going to school together. In elementary school, he was always drawing and I so wished I could draw like Brad. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Brad grew up to be a photographer. When I told him about my idea to write a book about Springfield, he agreed to take pictures for the book.
Brad introduced me to Rachel who works at The Creamery Arts Center across the street from Hammons Field. Rachel is the Director of Exhibits and Programming for the Springfield Regional Arts Council. She coordinates exhibits at The Creamery, the Sky Gallery at the airport, and the Midtown Library, where OLC is housed in the basement. They had the idea to do a party celebrating the book at The Creamery once it publishes.
I showed a sample to Rachel, “Those illustrations remind me of Shel Silverstein.”
I can’t wait to pass that compliment along to Sophie.
After touring the facility and talking through what a book release party could look like, I invited both Brad and Rachel for a game of catch.
“I was in Boston during the World Series and parade,” Rachel said.
She was there working on her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University and stayed in a hotel across the street from Fenway.
Brad’s wife is also from Boston. We played catch under the watchful eye of Russ RuBert’s The K Man and shared stories of Boston history.
On my bucket list is to watch a Royals and Red Sox game from the seats on top of the Green Monster. I’ll even write a poem about it.
Early drafts of a few of the poems have already been featured throughout the year, with hat tips to:
Elisa Raffa / Springstorms: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/day-36/
Don Louzader / Fun Acre: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/day-44/
Randy Bacon and Larissa Breshears / Slick: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/day-121/
Jeff Houghton / The Mystery Hour: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/day-164/
Janelle Reed / Captain Springfield: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/day-194/
Steve Pokin / The Waver: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/day-221/
Rusty Worley / Downtown: https://whisperedwriting.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/day-235/
All proceeds from the book will benefit the life-changing, new-dream-inspiring work of Ozarks Literacy Council.
Many thanks to 50 / 50 Press and Scott Cuzzo for their amazing work in making this project a reality.