Fan Mail Wednesday #41

Dear James Preller,

Hi, my name is Gavin C., a 6th grader at Maple Ridge Elementary. I have just read your book Six Innings. I loved it because I am  one of those crazy baseball players that just can’t live without baseball.

I am writing to you because I have to read a book and in this case I choose your book to read and I have to do a project based on the book to get a good grade. This project, “Letter to the Author,” is worth 15 of my 70 points on the “C” level. I cannot go to the “B” projects until I get 70 points and I cannot get an “A” without getting 15 points on the B level.

I loved your book Six Innings. My favorite character was Alex Lionni because he is the first baseman and I am a first baseman myself so we have something in common. He also bats okay, just like me! We have a lot in common.

In the first inning of the game the Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies team didn’t bat so well and I probably think that they were just getting started and needed to warm up.

What inspired you to write this book? I was just curious because it was a good one! When you were my age (11), did you play baseball and what team did you guys have? I am guessing that your coach worked for the Earl Grubb’s or did you make that up?

Thanks for taking the time out of your career to read my letter! It means a lot to me.

Your Reader,

Gavin C.

P.S. Write back if you have the time (no hurry, I get out of school in June).

I replied:

Dear Gavin:

Thanks for you letter, dated way back to early March. I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but sometimes I feel like a ship that’s taking on water. I bail and bail, but it doesn’t always seem to help. I still have soggy socks and wet knees.

So, I’m a “C” project, huh? What happens at “B” — you get to write to Mike Lupica?

I’m kidding. I’m just grateful that you read my book, and glad that your teacher encourages you to read.

About Alex Lionni: I had a friend, Mike, a man around the age of 50, who once confided to me how his parents sat him down at an early age and explained that he was definitely never going to make it as a professional ballplayer. He might have been seven or eight years old at the time and it was a conversation that lingered with clarity in his mind for more than forty years. And even though his parents were proven correct, I always felt a little sad about that conversation. They could have let him dream a little longer, you know? All of us have to face reality sooner or later, and when kids are concerned, I generally prefer “later.” Anyway, I always remembered my friend’s story and decided to put a version of it in Six Innings. I liked Alex’s reaction:

—–

Mr. Lionni looked at his son searchingly. “Alex, do you understand me? Sports are fun. A nice way to spend an afternoon. But schoolwork is more important.”

Alex nodded.

He understood.

Oh, he was going to play for the Yankees all right.

He just wasn’t going to get any help from his old man.

—–

I made up the name Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies. From an early age, I hated those sponsor-named teams. My poor son, Nick, played on a team called Adirondack Wood Floors. Catchy, huh?

Thanks for your letter. Good luck making it all the way “A” level. And have a great season playing ball!

JP

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