Tag Archive for Preller images

Everything Was Swell Until the 6th Inning

I came across a photo today and figured I’d tell you about it. Blog fodder, you know.

This is me five years ago, after throwing batting practice on a hot night:



It was the eve of the championship game for the 10-year-old All-Stars. Bethlehem vs. Colonie. I remember it clearly. My son, Gavin, got the nod as starting pitcher that day (I was coach, not manager, and did not make that decision), mostly by virtue of his being rested and available. He wasn’t our best arm, but on that day he was cool and in control. Gavin hit his pitch count limit after five innings and we had to pull him. Our team was ahead against a very resilient group from Colonie, leading 8-5. Time to go to the bullpen. At that moment, everything that could have possibly gone wrong, went wrong. Three outs from an elusive championship, those poor boys got smoked. It still makes me shake my head in grim wonder. We ended up losing by 10 runs, after one of the most brutal innings I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll never forget that game. I wanted to win, and I genuinely wanted for those boys to experience that championship feeling. Alas, and oh well.

It often amazes me how these games can linger in memory. When I wrote Six Innings, back in 2008, I was struck by how clearly I remembered Little League games that I had played back in the early 70s when I was 9-10-11 years old. It gave me the conviction to write the book in the first place. The games meant something to these kids. That I can vividly recall individual plays across 40 years is a testament to that fact. I can still see that ball rolling through Don Cognato’s spindly legs.

This is a place in life where these boys live. Where a lot of life’s momentous events are played out. It’s a cliche to say that a player leaves his heart out on the field, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I know I left my heart on a lot of ballfields across the years, and I wasn’t the only one.

There’s a moment in Six Innings when I try to capture that feeling. Well, not a moment, exactly; I try to achieve it throughout the entire book. But there’s one particular moment when I suppose I try to elevate the language a bit, try to lift off above the turf. The staccato rhythms give way to longer, more poetic sentences. It happens after a thrilling play at the plate in the top of the 5th:

In that instant, everything freezes, a DVD on pause, then explodes into action. Both teams, the fans, the coaches — shouting, cheering, hooting, protesting — every emotion galvanized at once, a kinetic charge of energy rising up through the five layers of the earth’s atmosphere, their cries and dreams climbing from troposphere to exosphere, soaring into the velvet void of deepest space. A roar that happens on Little League fields every day, in every town, city, state, and country all over the world, from Logansport to Osaka, San Cristobal to Little Rock. The sound the game makes when it is played passionately, with young hearts.

Hey, how’s this for cool? The cover of the Korean translation (uh, it’s the one on the left):

korean-six-innings-207x300          paperback-cover-six-innings-203x300


A Few Family Snaps

There’s so many different topics that I’m eager to tackle — bullying, books for boys, slow reading, and many more — but right now I’m just going to show some brag photos.

Note: Did you like that use of the word “brag?” Stole it from Feed by M.T. Anderson. Good book, vibrant, creative, smart, perhaps a little too message-driven (mindless consumerism = bad), and part of my ongoing education in Speculative Fiction, where everything seems possible — and pitfalls abound.

Anyway, some shots:

Maggie, age 9 . . .

Gavin, age 11 . . .

Nick, age 17 . . .

Me, age 49, after pitching batting practice on a hot day. Sorry, no photos of the Good Wife this time around — I haven’t yet obtained written permission.

Some Photos from NYC

I just downloaded some photos from our recent trip to NYC, where my friends at Feiwel & Friends gratiously put us up in a fancy hotel for the night. I attended a New York Public Library function with Liz Szabla at the Schomburg Center on Malcolm X Blvd to celebrate their 2008 list of “100 Books for Reading and Sharing.” (Ironically, though I’d love to share that list with you, it’s not available on the net!) As an added bonus, we heard the remarkable Uri Shulevitz speak — while Lisa, Gavin, and Maggie took huge bites of the Big Apple. Always a treat to be back on familiar concrete, after moving to more pastoral environs in 1990.

As a busy high schooler, Nick couldn’t miss two days of school to make the trip. We ached for him terribly and cried ourselves to sleep each night (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!).

After checking into the hotel, we began our madcap Manhattan spree with a personal tour of the historic Flatiron Building . . .

. . . home of Feiwel & Friends. That’s Jean Feiwel and Liz Szabla, hard at work.

Then we walked Fifth Avenue to see the Christmas windows . . .

. . . and go skating at Rockefeller Center. (Gavin recently acquired an orange Under Armour baseball cap. We cannot get it off his head.)

We visited the tippy-top of the Empire State Building . . . ate dinner in Greenwich Village . . . and called it a night.

Next morning we split up. I went uptown with Liz, while Lisa and the kids ran around New York.

They walked the Brooklyn Bridge . . .

. . . enjoyed dim sum in Chinatown. Then it was time to head back home.

All in all, I think we had a good time. Regrettably, Daisy could not make the trip . . .

. . . as she is currently rehearsing for her role in the Nutcracker.


Nooooo, wise guys, I didn’t decide to be some forlorn 70’s kid for Halloween.

That’s my actual life we’re looking at. Don’t I look thrilled? I lived with that lamp, that wallpaper, those wide lapels in Wantagh, Long Island. Analyzing the photo further, you get a hint of the black-and-white cushioned chair against the backdrop of that wallpaper. Just imagine living with that visual collision of patterns . . . all the time. Welcome to my world.

Actually, these photos are the result of more housekeeping. I finally fixed some broken links on my BIO page. Here’s my whole family, all seven of us, from a slightly earlier time: I’m the baby, up front and left-of-center. Which is still true today.

My oldest brother, Neal, went off to Princeton around that time, and came back a long-haired freak! My next oldest, Billy, dropped out of college and was soon drafted into Vietnam. He returned a short-haired freak — but the important thing was that he returned. Times changed pretty fast during The Nixon Era. I always wanted to set a book in that period, 1969-70, my year of small miracles. Not a memoir, but fiction grounded in that time period. When my mother woke me early one morning to watch a grainy television picture of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon; and even more amazing, when I saw the Mets take Game Five of the World Series. Cleon Jones caught that final out, dropped down to one knee, squeezed it tight. And somehow, through that wild season, we had survived.

By the way, this is my 100th post!