By Acclamation

Yesterday, I spent the day in Chicago interviewing professional women softball players for Catch. I had the honor of hearing their stories. While each was different, there was one, inescapable theme: sports had given them a place where they could be themselves, without apology.

Tonight, I watched an historic event as Secretary Clinton became the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. When it happened, Bec King burst into tears. She said, “I don’t even know why I am crying.”

These two events and the messages that I heard from the athletes, from my wife, and from myriad women on the stage at the convention are forever tied together for me. A line of demarcation. It’s a strange phenomenon to be so close to these stories, and yet so removed. I understand them, but they are not mine. This has not ever been my fight.

Like me, I don’t believe those who came of age in the last twenty years truly understand the seismic shift that has occurred. Our world now has more spaces like those that the athletes talked about. We take for granted that they are here. They exist, and so it’s easy to think they must always have existed.

But they haven’t always existed. And there weren’t easily created. And that can only be understood by listening to the stories from those who lived through it.

CATCH in Cincinnati Magazine

I had the chance to spend a few weeks with some of the players from the Florence Freedom, an independent baseball team located in Greater Cincinnati.

While this isn’t an excerpt from the Catch, it follows the book’s theme. You can read the entire story at Cincinnati Magazine.

“Y’All-Star Week” is Cheeky Good Fun. It’s Also Everything That Really Matters About Sports.

We tell ourselves that sports teaches valuable lessons. But what does that actually mean? As the Florence Freedom prepare to host the Frontier League’s Y’All-Star game, author Brad King explores those questions with the independent league baseball players.

 

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Catch: Because I Never Had This (Zach Taylor)

Zach, 25, only played baseball for three years. His parents were divorced, and he didn’t really have anyone around to teach him the game. More than a decade later, he bought season tickets to the Pirates. This is why he did that.

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Catch: The End of the Road (Liam Coghlan)

Liam Coghlan, 26, is facing the end of his baseball career after an ACL injury in college. Because of that, he started Diamond and a Dream at The Vandal, an organization that will use baseball to help teach kids about life. Still, I asked went through his head when the doctor’s told him he might never play the game again.

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Catch: The Base Hit (John Webb III)

I spent the day at Aviation Field in Forest Park watching the St. Louis Adult Men’s baseball league. During the games, I had the chance to talk with some of the players, including John W. Webb III whose out this year because of a bum knee. At sixty eight, he was itching to get back on the field because he loves — LOVES — the game.

I asked him about his favorite childhood memory of baseball, and what he thinks he learned from that moment.

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Catch: Teaching the game (Trey Dowell)

Author Trey Dowell said if he and wife had a child, he’d definitely teach him the game. I asked him why he was so adamant about that (because it’s a sentiment I’ve heard expressed in nearly every interview).

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Catch: Stand and Bang! (Doug Pelfrey)

Catch isn’t really about baseball. That’s a red herring. A red herring I happen to love, but a red herring none the less. The book is really about something much deeper. The game isn’t just a metaphor for life. It’s the conduit through which fathers teach their sons.

During my interview with Florence Freedom manager Dennis Pelfrey, he mentioned he couldn’t wait until his eight month old son was old enough to learn the game. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard often. So I asked:

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Catch: The Broken Arm

When I was just around nine or ten, I broke my arm before a big playoff game. And by “big” I mean either tee-ball or coach pitch. And by “playoff game” I mean last games of the season. My dad asked the doctor to place my cast below the elbow and above my wrist so I could keep playing.

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Catch: Baseball All Around Me

Growing up, baseball was at the center of my life. My friends Jimmy, Greg, and I constructed so many different ways to play the game. By using the game on the back of the 1979 baseball cards, to Strat-o-matic, MicroLeague Baseball, and a variety of in-person games played in garages and basements.


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Catch: An Oral History

My first memory is playing baseball in the backyard when I was three years old. My father used to come home from work, gather me up, and take me outside with the wiffle ball set. He’d toss the ball, and spend his evening tracking down everything I hit.

Those backyard nights have defined our relationship since.

Throughout the years, that got me thinking. I wonder how many other people have those same stories? How many of you can define your relationships through the lens of our national pastime?

I don’t know the answer. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s quite a few.

That’s the genesis of this project:Catch: An Oral History of Fathers, Sons, Mothers, Daughters and Baseball,  a yearlong writing experiment in which I’m going ask people to tell me stories about how baseball has shaped the relationships that have with people in their lives.

Here’s how it will work: I’ll interview people from across the country, transcribe what they say, do some light editing to make sure it’s coherent, and let them tell you their story.

If you’re interested in following the project, you can LIKE the Facebook page. And if you’re interested in contributing your story, you can contact me through this website.