[A baseball essay, for Northern Journeys Magazine/Summer 2016]
Baseball makes up a substantial swath of my own personal history. I love most sports, but baseball is the one that has garnered the lion’s share of my attention over the course of my lifetime. Baseball was the first sport that I played. It was the sport that my father bequeathed to me and in turn, I passed it on to my own son.
As a talented high school player, I earned a scholarship to play in college. An injury derailed what I thought would be my career path—and I stepped away from the game I grew up with for the better part of my early 20s. It wasn’t until I returned to Maine after a strange sojourn away that I rediscovered the game and it has informed each and every spring (and summer) since then.
As a writer, baseball became the subject matter of my first book, When Towns Had Teams. As a late-blooming writer, I was searching for a narrative that was big enough to fill nearly 300 pages. Baseball beckoned me to make it my own story.
Like with many of my personal passions, history is central in my own understanding of the game. The pastime’s past for me begins with family.
My father’s brother, my Uncle Bob, was a talented left-handed pitcher for the Roberts’ 88’ers. The 88’ers, like many local town teams, were mainstays each summer in communities all across the Pine Tree State. Prior to our digital age, people still went out after dinner and watched local baseball played by men who might also double as their oil delivery man (like my uncle), or become their first American Legion coach and high school athletic director, like the late Stan Doughty was for me. Continue reading