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Book, Personal

Baseball and me

The brown chair held more dust than an old attic.

At least, that’s how it felt when I curled up in my father’s favorite seat. The cushioned monstrosity had been banished to the corner of the living room, which is a funny name for a room that we didn’t live in. The family room is where we gathered to watch television or read books.

The living room featured a plush green carpet, a gold and yellow couch that probably could’ve been covered in plastic, two orange wing-back chairs and a piano. And that brown chair, big enough to hold the extra-large frame of my 6′-4″ dad, and large enough for me to tuck my entire body.

The room also had an old black-and-white TV and, by some miracle, picked up Channel 11. Our house was near Hartford and getting a New York station half a state away wasn’t a given in the days before cable. But hey, my father had to listen to games on a radio when he was a kid, so this was an upgrade, if not quite a livestream on an iPhone.

WPIX meant I could watch New York Yankees games all summer long while my parents lived in the family room, watching whatever boring thing parents watched.

I’d sit in that chair, resting a pad of paper on my lap, and write down what each player did. When he came up the next inning, I could say, “He struck out last time, let’s see what he does this time.”  I had no idea back then that people actually got paid for keeping a scorecard, or that there was an official way to do it.

None of that mattered to me. I was too busy falling in the love with the magic of the games, never knowing which player would be the hero – or the goat (and not the G.O.A.T, because Greatest of All Time was an acronym not even thought of yet).

I fell in love with the stories that unfolded in front of me. I fell in love with baseball.

Years later, that passion led me to become a teller of those stories, covering Major League Baseball as a journalist.

And now, I’m bringing that passion to you. Except this time, my story is completely fictional.

The hero of THE WHOLE MAN, Jesse “JB” Walsh, is a former professional baseball player. I figured all the time I spent talking to those guys gave me a good idea of what makes them tick. Writing athletes is fun, though from a completely different perspective than I did when I covered them as a beat reporter.

JB is not based on a particular player. He loves the game, and baseball is part of who he is. I hope you enjoy reading his story as much as I enjoyed writing him.

Maybe you’ll even snuggle up in your favorite chair and fall in love, too.