Now that my first book is out, I’m getting a lot of folks asking: “why did you choose baseball?”
Well, as most people know my goal was to write a fictional book that required a vast amount of research, however, I did feel the need to incorporate some theme with which I was familiar. Considering the age of the characters I tried to think of what might interest them during this period in American history and baseball felt the most appropriate to capture the essence of this era. I grew up playing ball with my friends either during recess or during the summers in the town I grew up in a small town (named Wentzville) just outside St. Louis, Missouri. Other than building forts and trails in the woods that surrounded my house, I spent countless hours playing baseball. I also have some great memories of going to Busch Stadium to see the Cards (Cardinals) play. Speaking of major league teams, my dad was definitely more of a following fan. I didn’t watch sports at all growing up but I do recalling overhearing games my dad watched on t.v. or listening to on the radio. Again, these were great memories all positively influencing my current love for baseball. Now, I am a proud Boston Red Sox fan. I love listening to the games on our MLB app and posting fan messages on my Facebook page.
Once baseball was the decided theme for the beginning of the book (remember that the Extra Innings trilogy was originally plotted to be one single book) I began to create storyboards detailing the plot. Obviously, since the baseball portion of this story took place in 1947 and I wasn’t born until 1975, I did have to do some research. This mostly came in the with the help of Google. I had fun digging into the baseball archives for player and team information as well as specifics on rules and regulations of the game which have since changed. This was important because I could not always rely on my current knowledge of how the game is played. Certain illegal moves now were legal back then or had just been outlawed a few years prior to the year of this story.
For example, spitballs were originally outlawed in 1920. The example of a balk mentioned in Book 1 is when the pitcher makes a motion associated with his pitch but does not complete the delivery. The balk rule was first introduced 50 years prior to this story taking place but it was mentioned to help reinforce how the opposing team (“the mob”) had to be watched closely for cheating.
I want to specifically talk about Chapter 2. There is a scene between two friends (Fist and Boston) who are trading baseball cards. Researching this was tricky, because I really wanted to feature the more popular players at the time with a particular focus on rookie cards (like Brooklyn Dodger’s Pee Wee Reese’s rookie card from 1941) as those leverage the highest bargaining ability during a card trade. But at the same time, I didn’t want to select too famous of a player because I believed that might appear too far-fetched to the reader. After all, avid baseball fans would know any and all current players (current being mid 1940’s) and not just the major celebrity players with now legendary status. One interesting fact to note was that some major league players didn’t get issued an actual “rookie” card until a few years after they were playing. One example was outfielder Ralph Kiner who began playing for the Pittsburg Pirates in 1946 but wasn’t issued a rookie card until 1948.
Another interesting point to mention is that major league baseball was shut down during WWII as the men were away fighting the Nazi’s. This is when the AAGSL (All-American Girls Softball League) came about (later to become the All-American Girls Baseball League in 1943. (Remember the movie A League of Their Own with Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna). This era of baseball is not mentioned in the Extra Innings trilogy at all. Based on the nature and personalities of these characters (and their relationship with one character in particular), it would be contradictory for them to speak of this league unless it was negative.
I do feel it’s important to mention that the story of the twins goes beyond the topic of baseball. Only in Book 1 (The Diamond Thieves) is this even a focus. Chapters 10 and 11 give solid closure to the baseball-themed plot and I believe that Chapter 12 does a good job communicating that the reader can expect for Book 2 to incorporate a completely different theme. For the purpose of peaking a prospective reader’s interest to buy my book, I am going to refrain from explaining what that theme is in this blog. Speaking of Chapter 12, I hope everyone who reads the book really enjoys Chapter 12 as this is absolutely my favorite chapter in the entire book. Readers have already reported to me that they are (pleasingly) shocked by this chapter. I love it! #extrainnings