So here's a little story I've been sitting on for the past year. Remember that baseball book I mentioned at the 8:51 pm and 9:25 pm marks during the debacle known as live-blogging the 2008 All Star Game? The same one I later added to Merc3069's guest post on the Perks of Being a Sports Babe book roundup? Well imagine my surprise when, in late 2009, I walked into A.'s apartment for the first time and spotted the very book Mr. First had given me two years before.
"Omg you have this book?!" I exclaimed grabbing it off the shelf.
"Open it up," he replied from the kitchen.
Inside, the author had written "For A., who's already such a big baseball geek, he (almost) doesn't need to read this book. Thanks for making the writing group more fun, and for talking so much baseball with me." Not only did he know Zack Hample, but they were actually friends. And now I'm lucky enough to call him my buddy too.
Over the last year I've attended the writing group Zack created nine years ago, meeting in different apartments, hopping around the city and discovering a whole new circle of great friends. We'll write for an hour (sometimes I do and sometimes I just think about it), introduce ourselves and then give feedback to those who choose to share their work with the group. Well for the better part of two years, Zack has been sharing snippets as he worked on his third book "The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches." This man has pored over every sentence in that book, fighting for interviews and uncovering secrets in the MLB ball-making industry that it's almost hard to believe that it was FINALLY released today! (He was even sweet enough to mention A. and me in the acknowledgments.)
Now I know not all of you give a crap about baseball (and you're probably nowhere near as obsessed with this sport as Zack is), but every time he read us a chapter from his book, you couldn't help but be intrigued or genuinely amused. It makes for such an entertaining read that even non-baseball fans will be able to glean something new without getting lost in a sea of stats. The best part (well, after the section on freak accidents caused by baseballs) comes at the end when he gives tips on how to snag your own Major League ball and as the world record holder for the most snagged game balls (4,662 to date), I'm going to go ahead and say the guy knows what he's talking about. As to what he does with all those balls? Well he gives some away to children at the end of every game he attends and he uses his yearly totals to raise money for the non-profit charity Pitch In For Baseball. Pretty stand-up guy, huh?
Incidentally, I never did get "Watching Baseball Smarter" back from Mr. First. After I returned it in a fit of breakup madness, I couldn't bring myself to ask for it back...until last summer. But by then the book had already gone missing. Last night he sent along a text during his part-time shift at his local Borders saying, "I see your bud has a new baseball book out tomorrow so I'm making sure it gets a good spot on the front of our new paperback table. He's representin' in [here]." I guess that makes up for it.