With only one week to go before the regular MLB season begins, I thought I’d go back and take a look at my old baseball pictures.
Only it turned out that I only had one: a tiny black and white picture of me standing at third base that appeared in my high school yearbook. Proud baseball Poppa to the rescue!
My father dug up about eight photos of me as a gangly 16 year old, doing what I did best that year: protecting the left bench from foul balls.
I also got really good at keeping score. When I wasn’t standing in right field while it snowed. Spring in the Adirondacks: we never played any of our scheduled games the first week of April, and even during the second and third week games typically featured flurries, sub-freezing temperatures, and rock-hard dirt surfaces to bounce on…ah, slide on when stealing second. Even now in my hometown, there are three feet of snow on the field, and I’m sure the players are tired of practicing inside the gym (the parking lot is also a favorite for ground-ball drills). Continue Reading
This past Sunday, I was invited to give a presentation/workshop in Kyoto called “Basic Statistics for Language Teachers.” That’s what I do: educational statistics. Writing about statistics is usually not as interesting as writing fiction. I think that probably goes without saying.
But actually, the history of sports, and of baseball in particular, is exactly that: writing about statistics. Continue Reading
Big news from my university’s affiliated high school this year: the high school baseball team was chosen to enter the national Spring Invitational Tournament. This is the first time in five years, and the fifth time since the university bought the failing school two decades ago and turned it into a regional powerhouse for international studies.
One criticism that came early in the workshopping of what turned into Approaching Twi-Night was the fact that several of the players went to college. “Everyone knows that baseball guys go straight from high school,” was a typical comment (not an exact quote, mind you; this was something like 18 years ago). “Athletes wouldn’t use this kind of sophisticated language” was another. (This was in regard to descriptions in some of the alternating chapters that don’t use quotation marks for dialogue and call the main character “John” instead of “Ditch.”) So, uh, athletes are dumb? Pardon me for breaking the (undeserved, insulting) stereotype. Continue Reading
Over the weekend, I decided to make the ebook version of Approaching Twi-Night free, in celebration of the beginning of spring training. Just for a couple days. The book slowly crept up to number 3, then 2, then late last night hit the top spot in free baseball ebooks….in non-fiction.
I guess it’s so realistic a novel that it’s non-fiction, insofar as, yes, there was a baseball strike in 1994 and there are Class A teams in New York.
Spring training is here at last! Well, for pitchers and catchers, anyway. The full teams won’t show for another week. But the phrase “pitchers and catchers report” still has a special meaning for baseball players, and fans, too.
I started Approaching Twi-Night in a spring training setting partly because of my personal experience with spring training. I played baseball in high school for four years and only once did I attempt to attend the early spring training session for pitchers and catchers. I say “tried” because, quite obviously, I was not successful. Continue Reading
Welcome to my personal author web page! Actually, I have at two additional web sites to this one. One is devoted to my blog, Taking Leave (which is scheduled to be published in late 2015 as a book by the same name. Another is my academic page which includes courses taught at Ritsumeikan University as well as my CV (academic presentations, papers, books, and so forth).
But my passion is and has been baseball. I played baseball as a high school student — not a terribly outstanding player, as my high school classmates will be happy to tell you — and eagerly follow the minute details of any game I come across.
Approaching Twi-Night is my first foray into published fiction, and although I have varied writing interests ranging from historical fiction to science fiction, I thought there was no better way to start than to return to baseball. I’ll be blogging here in the upcoming weeks about where the story of “Ditch” Klein and his teammates came from, what literary and historical debts are owed by certain elements of the story, and, of course, about baseball in general.