Monday, January 30, 2012

Here's the Pitch

Fenway 1912 was just awarded the 2012 Seymour Medal by the Society for American Baseball Research as the best baseballbook of biography or history of 2011.

Below, from January 2008, is my pitch that sold the book, which came to me while I was driving to the dump one Saturday morning:

" . . .As you well know, Fenway Park opened in 1912 and the 2011 season represents the ballpark’s 100th season. There are certain to be a great number of book titles that will be published tied to this anniversary, primarily illustrative in nature. But I think I have a winner.

I propose to do a book called “1912: Fenway’s First Season and the First Great World Series.” The book would primarily be a narrative covering Boston’s 1912 season and the subsequent World Series versus the New York Giants, a best-of-seven affair that lasted eight games due to a tied game, amid charges of fixes and frauds, featuring pitchers Smoky Joe Wood and Christy Mathewson, New York Giants manager John McGraw and characters like Nuf Ced McGreevey of the Royal Rooters, Mayor John Fitzgerald, and Sport Sullivan, who would later become notorious for his involvement in the Black Sox scandal. The Series was a nail-biter that wasn’t decided until the tenth inning of the final (eighth) game, an absolute classic between two baseball behemoths.

But inside this narrative I will also tell the story – and stories – of Fenway Park. For example, when, on April 26, 1912, Red Sox first baseman High Bradley hit the first home run over what will one day be called the Green Monster, that will be a takeoff point for an in-depth look at the history of that feature. The famous pitching match-up of September 6, 1912 between Smoky Joe Wood and Walter Johnson, that featured both pitchers warming up just in front of the dugout, surrounded by fans, would serve as a take off point to discuss the history of Fenway’s bullpens. In this way I can simultaneously tell the story of the season and the World Series and the story of Fenway Park.

Timing will be everything for this book. Just as Red Sox Century took advantage of the Red Sox 100th season and beat other “anniversary” books to the punch by 6 months to a year, so will 1912. I envision a pub date of either Fall 2010 or Spring 2011 so the book is available during season 100 of Fenway, the start of the celebration – and in advance of the glut of Fenway titles.

That would mean a manuscript deadline of somewhere between Fall 2009 and Spring 2010. Factoring in the time for research and writing, I think this book needs to be pitched in the next few months.

What do you think?

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