In my just released book, Falling for the Deputy, Barbara, my heroine, is into baseball. She played it in high school and college When she moved to Willow Ridge, she volunteered to help coach a little league team. The coach for a local, not-very-good men’s team watches her, realizes she knows quite a bit about playing the game, and asks her to join them. She agrees to do it–with lots of reservations.
A few games and some conflict ensues. It’s a subplot in the book, but it helps build the main plot in several ways. The baseball games show some of Barbara’s growth in confidence and establish a connection between her and Chris Harper, the deputy she falls for. Her interest shows Chris that there’s more to her than just the elegant, sophisticated, somewhat intimidating surface. Her help connects her more deeply with the town, and a practice becomes the backdrop for her meeting with Mookie, the stray dog who adopts her.
Still, why choose baseball?
I’m a baseball fan. Actually I’m a sports fan, but baseball is particularly close to my heart. I grew up with baseball since my entire family was into it. I also grew up in a New York suburb, where even in the 1960s you could frequently watch games on television. My mother and grandmother rooted for the Yankees. I can still remember a particular September afternoon, sitting in my grandmother’s living room with both my mother and grandmother glued to the television, watching the Yankees play in the World Series.
And I also remember how they would call each other during the season when Yankees players Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were vying for the single-season home-run record. A telephone call always resulted when one player or the other hit the ball over the fence.
My dad was a lifelong Dodgers fan until the team betrayed him by moving out west. When the Mets were born, he hopped on board the fan train, suffering through many sorry seasons with them until that one magical year in 1969.
Though he couldn’t afford to do it often, Dad did occasionally take me and my oldest two brothers to games at Shea Stadium, which wasn’t all that far from our home.
Later I got caught up in high school and college and kind of left baseball behind for a while. Skip a few more years, though, when I was a young mother with small kids, I often turned on the radio (at first, TV later) as background for other tasks. That brought memories of how much I enjoyed listening to the game. At one point we were renovating an older house and a baseball game served as a good background accompaniment to the work.
Since we lived in North Carolina, the game of choice (and often the only choice) involved the Atlanta Braves. My husband who grew up in western SC, a couple of hours from Atlanta by automobile, was also a huge Braves fan. We suffered through many losing seasons with them, through the seventies and eighties, until that magical worst-to-first season in 1991. By then, thanks to Ted Turner’s TBS station, we could watch nearly every game on television.
Last fall, of course, we watched in surprised wonder and joy as the Braves won the World Series.