I would love your help.
I’m a local author and storyteller. I would be completely surprised if you’ve heard of me or read anything I’ve written to date. I usually write stories about baseball and life, seeing the beautiful metaphors in the game applying to relationships and parenting and what it means to live a good story.
My newest book, A Year of Playing Catch, is coming out on September 8.
The same date Michelangelo unveiled his statue of David (1504).
September 8th was the birthdate of Negro Leagues star Buck Leonard (1907) and the same date both Kirk Gibson (1979) and Don Mattingly (1982) played in their first major league baseball games.
Star Trek (1966) and The Oprah Winfrey (1986) Show first aired on that date as well.
That’s good company.
September 8 is almost exactly a month away. August, my birthday month, comes first. I’ll be 46, four years older than the current oldest player in MLB. Too bad there isn’t a senior baseball league like there’s a senior PGA Tour.
Way back in January — which feels like another lifetime ago — I wrote down two goals for the upcoming year. The first was to take an August road trip back to the Field of Dreams, celebrating Major League Baseball’s first game at the sacred site. It wouldn’t be a direct trip, because I planned to make several baseball-related stops over about nine days.**
Wherever I went, I’d help kids experience the game and the lessons it teaches us. I hoped to get a sponsor or two so I could donate gloves to students at the Boys & Girls Clubs in each city and donate tickets to take less fortunate families to ballgames together.
And then, in this the centennial year of Rube Foster’s Negro National League, I started composing two petitions to induct Buck O’Neil and Elston Howard into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (I actually did post the one I wrote for Buck. You can sign it here.) I planned on collecting signatures at each game. The dream was to end the trip by throwing out a first pitch for the Royals near my birthday, having successfully acquired a few thousand signatures on each petition. It was a big dream, yes, but it was a good dream. That trip would have been a great story.
Maybe it will make a great story for 2021.
Amidst all the confusion and chaos of this year, there is an old tape that has been playing in my head. It’s from when I was working on my first book, Run Home & Take a Bow.
“Baseball stories don’t make a difference in this world.”
That tape has been especially loud in recent months.
And then I remembered the year of playing catch, the people I met and the lessons I learned.
Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said, “The story of these men, these ballplayers, is a story not about the adversity but about everything they did to overcome that adversity. These men simply dreamed of playing a game, and they ended up making history. Their passion, their dedication, their courage not only changed the game, but it changed the country.”
Passion and perseverance in the face of adversity.
I remembered the words of Mary Moore of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, “You don’t have to like people to play ball with them. We learned to cooperate, to be disciplined, to have and treat others with respect…Baseball is life. Anything you learn from or about baseball can be applied to your daily life, to any relationship you have.”
I remembered the new friends I made and the places I went in search of having a catch (listen to Aaron’s song here) all over Springfield.
Delaware Elementary and Kickapoo High School and Missouri State University. Meeting international athletes at baseball stadiums and parks. John from the History Museum on the Square. Annual baseball celebrations of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and The Battle for Bell and a birthday donut with State Representative and former Captain Springfield Crystal Quade.
My other forever-ago-January goal for August was to pre-sell 1000 copies of the book. In light of everything that’s going on, from Covid in MLB to re-opening schools to all the election-year ads, this goal seems almost absurd.
But, I refuse to let Covid have the last word.
A Year of Playing Catch is a story of hope, of friendship and faith, of art and music and chasing dreams. This is exactly the kind of story we need in 2020.
One that helps us look for the silver linings.
One that reminds us life resounds with deep joy.
One that’s full of whimsy and wonder and even some illustrations.
With everything in me, I think you and your favorite catch partner or book club or little league baseball team or collegiate softball team or chess club or church or college or neighborhood or high school or coffee shop or donut store or Dr Pepper distributer will like this story.
This book would be great to read with an Andy’s concrete nearby or with Askinose Chocolate or at Phelps Grove Park or Sequiota Park or Doling Park or near the Giant Fork or Hammons Tower or at Bass Pro Shops or Dickerson Park Zoo or on the Square or on Route 66 or eating City Butcher BBQ or Smokin’ Bob’s BBQ or cashew chicken or hanging out near the Gillioz Theater waiting for The Mystery Hour to start.
It’s perfect for reading just before bed or on your lunch break or while eating breakfast or while waiting in the doctor’s office or just about any time you might need a breath of inspiration. It’s great reading in a box or with a fox or on a train or in the rain or here or there or anywhere!
Enter your email here and you can read the first chapter.
Then order a copy.
And thank you, so much.
Keep playing. Keep dreaming.
**The itinerary for the Iowa trip:
Day 1 – Omaha Storm Chasers
Day 2 – Wallingford, IA
Day 3 – Iowa Cubs
Day 4 – Mt. Pleasant, IA
Day 5 – Quad City River Bandits
Day 6 – Field of Dreams
Day 7 – Quincy Gems
Day 8 – Kansas City T-Bones
Day 9 – Kansas City Royals