So I’ve given some very mild thought lately to writing a baseball book. This is 1.5% inspired by the notion that I may have something interesting to say about baseball that will hold up for more than 500 words and 98.5% inspired by the realization that the half dozen memoirs and detective novels I’ve started and not gotten past page 50 are never, ever going to be published.
I’ve thought quite a bit about what sort of topic to cover. I wish I had seen this post from Luke Epplin at the Daily Beast called “The Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Baseball Book” before I wasted all that time, though. Because I think he may be on to something:
Never fear, there’s still a surefire path for securing a book deal. Simply pick a year—any year, really—and make a case for why that baseball season stands out from all others. Follow one of the templates below and you’ll ink a deal in no time.
You basically declare your year the best ever, link it with any number of social changes going on, gloop on the nostalgia and, voila, you got yourself a book.
Which, even though Epplin couches it somewhat cynically, ain’t a bad recipe to be honest. Cait Murphy’s “Crazy ’08” was a fantastic book. So too was Dan Epstein’s “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” about the 1970s. I suppose there would be diminishing returns if people started to write about truly boring years in an effort to make them seem important — 1992 was a fine year, but really, not much awesome happened — or if people went over beaten-to-death years from the so-called Golden Era. But think about how much you know about, say, the 1914 season. If someone did a mashup of that and, I dunno, Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” I’d be all over it like white on rice.
Anyway, I’m not going to write a book like that. Takes too much research and I have the attention span and attention-to-detail of a gnat. But Epplin does have a point about the template. There are actually a handful of baseball book templates, I’ve found, that tend to get published, covering a great number of baseball books we all read and enjoy. The year thing happens to just be one of ’em.