Author Meets Subject’s Scrapbook. Also: SNOW!

April 25, 2011

We woke to snow in Cooperstown. Not the accumulation kind of snow; just the wow, doesn’t late April mean anything kind of snow.

Before setting out to the Hall of Fame, I told my family not to feel bad for me if they were the only ones in attendance at my talk. They promised.

It was a comedy of errors once we arrived, leaving our coats in the car, running for the closest entrance, realizing it was the wrong entrance, running from door to door in the aforementioned snow, until we found our way inside. But we did. And we weren’t late.

My husband, son and daughter were not the only ones in attendance; the seats were all filled. People listened. I talked too fast, forgot to say some important things, and didn’t remember to ask for questions, but somehow I still think it went pretty well. Or well enough. Wellish.

The coolest part was that Stephen Light (who holds the enviable title Manager of Museum Programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame) had Effa Manley’s actual scrapbook there in the room with us.

I’m only a mild research geek, not the worst kind of research geek, but wow, did I love seeing that. When I had viewed the scrapbook for my research in the Hall’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center, I had looked at a microfiche copy on one of those crazy old machines. This was the real deal. With Effa’s scrawled notes all over the place. I especially liked that after a long, positive story about herself in a New York newspaper, Effa wrote, “This is a good story.” (!) More often she passed along the praise to her husband, Abe.

I loved paging through that scrapbook. (And I didn’t once try to hatch a Lucy-Ricardo-like plan to sneak it out. A true sign of maturity.)

She Loved baseball display at Hall of FameI signed a good number of copies of SHE LOVED BASEBALL, with a bigger smile each time I signed one for a Yankees fan. There was one Mets fan–an eight-year-old–who is the only girl playing baseball in her town’s all-male little league. I smiled quite a bit when signing hers, too.

Perhaps most exciting of all was talking about the possibility of a return appearance next spring. That trip would be in support of my next baseball picture book, BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER TEAM, illustrated by Steven Salerno. There was talk of taking over Doubleday Field for a game….I’m just saying.

Stay tuned.


The Road Back

April 19, 2011

When I first set out for Cooperstown in 2006 to research the book that would become She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, it seemed like a fun adventure. A mother of two relatively young children, I didn’t have a lot of time to myself, so setting out in a smelly rental car for a long road trip seemed kind of like the high life.

Five years later, I’m going back. (Okay, I’ve been back in the interim too, but that doesn’t serve this story.)

I remember stopping into the Hall of Fame bookstore my first time there, looking at all the wonderful books, and hoping that my notes would make that unlikely journey from disjointed mess to a manuscript deemed worthy of acquisition. And further hoping that some day I might be honored enough to be invited to sign my book in the Hall of Fame bookstore.

I’ve been to enough book signings to know they’re not the magical events we all imagine them to be before we published.

But it’s different at the Hall of Fame.

After I give a short speech on Effa Manley and her scrapbook on Thursday, I’ll be heading up to the bookstore to sign my book. I’ll be sitting there, surrounded by great baseball books. It’s almost like a shot of baseball directly into the bloodstream, a direct absorption of history and tradition.

It’s a long ride, and this time I’m bringing my family with me. It’s not my favorite drive, the New Jersey-Cooperstown route, but I suspect I’m going to be grinning the whole way. And maybe I’ll let someone else do the driving.

Stay tuned.


Surprise

March 9, 2011

Peter Gammons wrote an excellent piece (what a surprise) in the current issue of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s magazine, Memories and Dreams, in which he talks about what spring training used to be. He recalled a tennis match between Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. The accessibility of all the players. And the excitement of a great new player in the Yankees club, a kid he thought the Yankees should play at shortstop … Mariano Rivera.

That Mo would go on to greatness of a wholly other kind is my favorite kind of baseball story.

Last year’s big stories were about pitchers and the kids, the rookies. I love me a good rookie.

My dog’s name is Rookie. Here’s a cute picture of him.Rookie

Did I digress?

Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. I couldn’t get enough of those guys (until Strasburg—surprise, surprise—blew out his arm). How about Buster Posey’s year, all the way through a World Series win? Austin Jackson, whom I’d seen play the game of his life when on the Trenton Thunder. I love watching these beginnings, beginnings with great promise.

Who will it be this year? Is anyone else wondering what kind of year Aroldis Chapman will have? It looks like Jesus Montero might have more playing time than anyone thought, thanks to Cervelli’s broken foot. That’s the part I always forget—the surprise turns—the injuries that bring a rookie up before anyone thought he’d be ready. And the roles those rookies sometimes play.

The people I hear about before the season are not always the ones who end up shining. I wonder what this year’s best stories will be.


Author in the House

February 6, 2011

Event Details: Effa Manley and her Scrapbook
Authors Series
Thu, 21 Apr, 2011 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Noted children’s author Audrey Vernick, visits the Hall of Fame to present a special program for families on Effa Manley, the first woman inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Using Manley’s personal scrapbook (a copy of which resides in the Hall of Fame’s archive) as an example, Vernick will help families create a memento of their visit to Cooperstown. The program will be followed by a book signing, with Vernick signing copies of her book, She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story.  This program is included with the cost of admission.

Location:Learning Center, First Floor

http://community.baseballhall.org/page.aspx?pid=544&cid=1&ceid=343&cerid=0&cdt=4%2F21%2F2011


Road Trip!

January 28, 2011

When I was in Cooperstown in 2006, conducting research for the book that became SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY, I hatched a plan.

It was my first time at the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite a long history of baseball fandom. Despite a family that shared my interest.

The plan: I would only write books that required research trips to Cooperstown. It was brilliant! I love writing baseball books! I loved being in Cooperstown, where you can’t find a place for lunch that doesn’t have ridiculous baseball names for every sandwich on the menu.

Ultimately, the plan didn’t work out so well because the Hall adapted to the changes in the world. Instead of researchers flocking to the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center, the Research Center started sending copies of resources, for a reasonable charge, to interested researchers. An awesome service to be sure, but it did absolutely nothing for my plan.

But now, at last, I have finally found my way back.

ROAD TRIP!

I’ve been invited to present a talk and sign copies of SHE LOVED BASEBALL at the Hall of Fame during Youth Baseball Week. Specifically, I’ll be there on Thursday, April 21. Lest you balk at the weekday factor, keep in mind that is spring break for most kids ’round these parts.

I’m inviting everyone I know to join me. Also invited: those of you I don’t yet know.

Hope to see you there.


Awards and Honors

January 8, 2011

‘Tis the season. The new class for the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced this week. On Monday morning, the big children’s book awards will be announced.  (Can’t-help-it gush: My favorite award shows, the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, will both be televised this month.) It’s award time, boys and girls.

Mixed in with excitement for winners, I always feel the hurt of those not honored. Well, maybe not Raphael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire, but all the other ones whose names are repeatedly not selected. And those who write books that don’t reach the hands of the decision-making powers that be.

Barry Bonds(An aside about Palmeiro and McGwire. Am I the only one who noticed that the majority of no-neck big heads wore the number 25?)

But I digress.

As word leaks out on Monday from San Diego about the children’s books that were honored, I just want to say to the rest of you—GOOD JOB, WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS! Gold seals are lovely, but this year was so rich in high-quality children’s literature. I’m honored to be part of this world. And I am so, so happy that we children’s writers and illustrators resisted the urge to take performance-enhancing drugs to improve our game.


Doby, Satch and Pedro

November 23, 2010

I know Thanksgiving isn’t a wishing holiday, and that there’s probably no such thing as a wishing holiday, especially for adults. But I keep wishing I could sit down and watch baseball with some old-time players, and just listen to them talk.

I’ve been reading through some transcripts of the former Commissioner of Baseball, Fay Vincent, interviewing Larry Doby. I don’t know about you, but I never got to see Satchell Paige pitch. So I especially enjoyed reading this, from a 2004 interview:

LD: I think that Afro-Americans …were …great supporters. And great rooters, they root for you like mad. And I remember in 1946, when the Newark Eagles won the Negro League World Series, and we beat Satchel Paige two games, three to two and two to one.…Satch…if you probably have seen …the kid from Boston–

FV: Martinez. Pedro?

LD: Yeah, Pedro. Same kind of movement on the pitch. And finger-wise. If you notice how long Pedro’s fingers are, Satchel’s fingers were long like that and a thin hand, and just a nice, easy, easy movement.

I know it’s the research geek in me, but I love that detail. The finger length, the thin hand, the movement on the pitch. How great would it have been to watch a game sitting with Larry Doby, listening to him share details just like that?

Since it is a giving-thanks time, I will send mine toward Cooperstown, yet again, for preserving history and almost making those kinds of conversation possible.