Coming Home: Discovering the Boy’s Baseball Book
When I began writing my third novel, The Eskimo Slugger, my knowledge of baseball was pretty slim. The book is about an MLB rookie sensation in 1983 who meets and falls in love with a regular Joe. I knew the story would take place almost entirely off the playing field, but I wanted the characters to talk about the sport in a realistic way. I had always loved baseball movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, but I found the simple act of watching a game unbearably boring. I knew that if I stood any chance of writing a good book, I had to find a way to fall in love with baseball.
So I began by watching the Ken Burns documentary. That was a good start, because it’s eighteen hours of nothing but men (and a few women) talking about how much they love baseball. I started going to baseball games, I talked to my dad, I watched ESPN, and even read the sports section. Then I found an article about early 20th century baseball books that were written specifically for young boys. One of the authors mentioned was William Heyliger, so I went onto Ebay and looked for one of his books. I found an old Boy Scout edition of Bartley, Freshman Pitcher.
It’s about the star pitcher of a college team, Edward Kennedy, whose position is threatened by the arrival of a talented young freshie named Richard Bartley. It extols the virtues of loyalty and teamwork while illustrating the negative consequences of pride and bad behavior. It also has one of the best dedications I’ve ever read: “To the clear-eyed, robust boys who find a constantly increasing joy in the king of sports baseball.”
After I read this book, I finally understood baseball on an emotional level, and a few weeks later I began writing The Eskimo Slugger.
Here’s another one of the illustrations:
I love the way the two boys are leaning into each other. And here’s the cover of a different Heyliger book:
It’s amazing the way the artist depicted the explosive action at home plate.
The good news is, all of these books are now in the public domain. I understand that most of Kathy’s readers aren’t interested in a baseball book for kids. But, I also know a lot of my readers are women with young children, so if you have a son (or daughter) you read to or who is just starting to read, I strongly recommend Bartley, Freshman Pitcher. You can download a free and completely legal PDF of the original hardback version at this address: https://archive.org/details/bartleyfreshmanp00heyl Just click on the PDF link in the “View the book” section. It’s easy to read on a tablet and much better than the Kindle version, which gets all scrambled in the scan translation. I downloaded it right to my app:
There’s also a sequel called Captain of the Nine, which can be downloaded at the same location. And I hope everyone will sample The Eskimo Slugger when it comes out on September 29.
In the meantime, take me out the ballpark…
(And as a tribute to Mr. Heyliger, I named the love interest in my next book Bartley.)
Title: The Eskimo Slugger by Brad Boney
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 230 pages
It’s the summer of 1983, and Trent Days is Major League Baseball’s rookie sensation. Born in Alaska to an Inupiat mother, the press have dubbed him the Eskimo Slugger, but a midseason collision at home plate temporarily halts his meteoric rise to the top.
Sent back to Austin to recuperate, Trent visits his favorite record store, Inner Sanctum, where he meets amiable law student Brendan Baxter. A skip in the vinyl of New Order’s “Blue Monday” drives Trent back to Brendan, and their romance takes them into uncharted territory.
As Trent’s feelings move from casual to serious, he’s faced with an impossible dilemma. Does he abandon any hope of a future with Brendan and return to the shadows and secrets of professional sports? Or does he embrace the possibility of real love and leave baseball behind him forever? As he struggles with his decision, Trent embarks on a journey of self-discovery—to figure out who he really is and what matters most.
Mr. Boney is giving away one digital copy of The Eskimo Slugger. Here’s how to enter the Saturday Spotlight contest:
You must Do TWO of the Following:
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And don’t forget to:
5. Fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Monday afternoon.
*I am the only person who will have access to info that is submitted to me UNLESS a publisher or author has donated an eBook for the giveaway. For a prize donated by an author or publisher, I will forward your e-mail and format selection to the person responsible for distributing the eBook. In the event the contest form is not working, please leave your book selection in the comments below.*
It’s that easy! The winner will be selected using random.org. Mr. Boney will e-mail one lucky winner the eBook of their choice in their preferred format. The winner will be posted HERE on Tuesday.
***The eBook in this giveaway has been donated by Brad Boney.***