In what I hope will become a recurring feature — Fan Mail Wednesday! — I’ll take comments and questions from actual fan mail and include my responses here.
Aundrea S. writes via email:
Dear James Preller,
Hi, well I thought that your book was really good. It was full of excitement and thrills. Also since I have played on a girls and boys baseball team and a softball team I was the one to read your book. I thought that you put a lot of thought into making this book sound and feel real. I’m wondering if you were like Sam in the book whenever you were a kid? Or were you the one that sat on the bench? Or were you one of the best players on the team? I mean if you ever were on a baseball team. But I’m pretty sure you were because if you weren’t you must be a really good thinker. I also think you shouldn’t make the book go on and on and on and have a little bit more action. But it was really good. My fav parts were when Clemente the big guy messed up on a pitch.
Wow, Aundrea, thanks for reading Six Innings. If it seemed authentic to you, that’s because I’ve spend a lot of years playing baseball and coaching Little League; I’m very familiar with that world. As a boy, I played on many Little League teams. I was a good player, but not, alas and alack, a star (despite desperately wishing it were so).
My mother was the big baseball fan in my family — even today, she always seems to have the New York Mets on the radio, nervously chewing on a piece of ice, fretting when a dangerous hitter comes to the plate, rejoicing in victories — and I followed right along in her footsteps. Me and Mom, rooting together. In fact, we saw the 5th game of the 1969 World Series together at Shea Stadium, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. The truth is, when I think of baseball, I always think of my mother. They are forever linked, baseball and my mom, to the point where I suspect that my love for one is just a confusion of the other. I mean to say, maybe I love baseball so much because it reminds me of my mom.
P.S. Next book I’ll try not to go “on and on and on” so much! Ha! But in a way, that’s baseball. It’s not all action. As I wrote in the book: “To love baseball, to truly love the game, you’ve got to enjoy those empty places, the time to think, absorb, and shoot the breeze. A ball, a strike, a grounder to short. The slow rhythm of the game, a game of accumulation, of patterns, gathering itself toward the finish, like the first few miles of a marathon, not dramatic except for what it might mean later in the race.”