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The idiot’s guide to writing a baseball book

May 9, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT


So I’ve given some very mild thought lately to writing a baseball book. This is 1.5% inspired by the notion that I may have something interesting to say about baseball that will hold up for more than 500 words and 98.5% inspired by the realization that the half dozen memoirs and detective novels I’ve started and not gotten past page 50 are never, ever going to be published.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what sort of topic to cover. I wish I had seen this post from Luke Epplin at the Daily Beast called “The Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Baseball Book” before I wasted all that time, though. Because I think he may be on to something:

Never fear, there’s still a surefire path for securing a book deal. Simply pick a year—any year, really—and make a case for why that baseball season stands out from all others. Follow one of the templates below and you’ll ink a deal in no time.

You basically declare your year the best ever, link it with any number of social changes going on, gloop on the nostalgia and, voila, you got yourself a book.

Which, even though Epplin couches it somewhat cynically, ain’t a bad recipe to be honest. Cait Murphy’s “Crazy ’08” was a fantastic book. So too was Dan Epstein’s “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” about the 1970s.  I suppose there would be diminishing returns if people started to write about truly boring years in an effort to make them seem important — 1992 was a fine year, but really, not much awesome happened — or if people went over beaten-to-death years from the so-called Golden Era. But think about how much you know about, say, the 1914 season. If someone did a mashup of that and, I dunno, Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” I’d be all over it like white on rice.

Anyway, I’m not going to write a book like that. Takes too much research and I have the attention span and attention-to-detail of a gnat. But Epplin does have a point about the template. There are actually a handful of baseball book templates, I’ve found, that tend to get published, covering a great number of baseball books we all read and enjoy. The year thing happens to just be one of ’em.

  1. Old Gator - May 9, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I can use this.

  2. El Bravo - May 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    I call 2013! I’m going to write it in 2023.

    • historiophiliac - May 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      I thought you had dibs on the Encyclopedia of Baseball Douchenozzles.

  3. Francisco (FC) - May 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Takes too much research and I have the attention span and attention-to-detail of a gnat

    C’mon Craig, that’s not the right Gnatitude to have!

    • baseballicious - May 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      haha…well, at least you don’t look like one.

      here’s your title buddy, let this post be proof that – blah blah, lawyer stuff – you can have it…

      “Batman would’ve played baseball.” ha, just kidding….

      “Baseball is the National Pastime, Period.” And then you can go on about why it trully is the national pastime. Here is the thing about this book, though – this book that I would read – you have to talk about the things that no one talks about, the stuff everyone takes for granted that make baseball amazing.

      The superstitions; the ‘you hit my guy, i hit your guy’; how one of the greatest team-accomplishments comes from one of the greatest individual accomplishments in sports, the perfect game; the unwritten rules…

      …..oh my God, never mind…I would TOTALLY read a booked titled “Batman Would’ve Played Baseball.”

      • snowbirdgothic - May 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        Batman did play baseball:

      • baseballicious - May 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        haha! Very nice find, sir.

      • snowbirdgothic - May 9, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        I am vengeance. I am the night. I…have Google-fu.

      • baseballicious - May 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        oh google…never lets me down

  4. The Dangerous Mabry - May 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Feeding the Green Monster was a baseball book I really enjoyed, and all it requires is that you go to a lot of baseball games and get lucky enough to have a brilliant story like Pedro’s ridiculous season going for you. I’m not saying it’s the best baseball book of all time or anything, but if I was going to write a baseball book, that’s the kind I’d shoot for. Seems like it’s probably the easiest to write, anyway.

  5. sdelmonte - May 9, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    We need a good book about baseball in 1943, ’44 or ’45, no one’s choice for best season ever due to the draft and the war.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - May 9, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      Well, there’s “A League of Their Own”, which I guess is a movie, not a book. And there’s “Dirt in the Skirt”, which is Pepper Paire Davis’ autobiography. But I’m not sure how much coverage there is of MLB baseball, since the women’s baseball is really the more unique and interesting thing about baseball of that day.

  6. crispybasil - May 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    The dame was one issue of Aquaman short of a full comic collection, but she strutted into my basement blogging station smelling of trouble and not giving a damn about the piles of clothes everywhere.

  7. jcmeyer10 - May 9, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Over under on the number of times the word “grit” would be used.

    I say 45.5 times.

  8. rbj1 - May 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    How about a book on The Will To Win. How it’s the most important thing ever, how to define it, how to measure it, and historical Wills to Win.

  9. flamethrower101 - May 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    No way I could ever do this, but if I had to pick a year to write about, it’d be 2011. Seriously, how was this not the first comment?

  10. hojo20 - May 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Idea for a book: Why aren’t blacks playing baseball, Is it because of whitey?

  11. schmedley69 - May 9, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    1 for 15: The Atlanta Braves Story, by Craig Calcaterra. Forward by Susan Lucci.

  12. joecool16280 - May 9, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    We need a good book about the NY/BOS rivalry. Maybe you include some anecdotes about how you got to the field by taking the subway. Don’t forget to include some quotes from Billy Crystal for good measure.

    -says no one

  13. Old Gator - May 9, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Craig, don’t write a baseball book; write a book about a baseball book. You could call it Pierre Menard, Author of The Boys of Spring.

  14. antlerclaws - May 10, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    I have several good ideas for baseball books, but they all require lots of traveling and attending ballgames, which requires two things I’m short on, time and money.

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