March 2007

Swann

Last night I did a book signing at an auction house in Manhattan called Swann. Beautiful space. Good food. Nice crowd. I’m not sure exactly how many people showed up. I’d say there were around 70 or 80, and nearly half were from my writing group:

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My brother Henry was there with his fiancée, whom I hadn’t met before. (I approve.) She bought four copies of the book including one for her nine-year-old son and suggested that I sign it “…from your soon-to-be uncle.” Fun.

I’ve been cataloguing signed books for years at the Argosy Book Store. After working with thousands of signatures and inscriptions from REAL celebrities, it felt great to scribble some of my own.

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Speaking of celebrities, the most well-known person at the signing (using Google results as the gauge) was an illustrator/designer named Seymour Chwast. He’s in the photo above, reading the book at the end of the table.

Mickey Mantle’s

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My new book was officially released yesterday, and there was a launch party at Mickey Mantle’s in midtown, Manhattan. Over 80 people showed up, including my parents, closest friends, parents’ friends, co-workers from the Argosy, people from Vintage (the publisher), and the media. I met a guy from Yankees Magazine who might cover my 3,000th ball if I decide to snag it at Yankee Stadium, which I think I will. No. 1,000 came at Shea. No. 2,000 came in Montreal. It’d be nice to bring the next milestone back to my hometown, especially since Ruth’s Crib won’t be around much longer.

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But back to Mantle’s…I signed books for two hours straight and barely had time to eat or do anything else. It was stressful because I couldn’t talk to anyone for more than a minute or two, and I felt like I was neglecting everyone. I wanted to give more time to my friends, catch up with the people I hadn’t seen for years, and get to know the ones I was just meeting for the first time. But overall, I think everyone left happy.

Other stuff in the works…
I have another book signing this evening from 6 to 8pm, and there’s a new article about me on the Sports Illustrated web site. I’m still not sure when my NPR interview is airing, but if you have XM Satellite Radio, tune in to channel 175 (aka MLB Home Plate) this Saturday (March 31) from 8am to 10am ET. I’ll be joining Grant Paulsen on his weekly show called “Minors and Majors.” I think I’ll be on in the first hour.

Book excerpt

There’s a short excerpt from the “Umpires” chapter of my book on Baseball Pilgrimages. The book is coming out in two days (!!) and I’ve been scrambling to get ready for the launch. I just realized that I neglected a bunch of blog comments on recent entries, so I’ve gone back and answered them all. More soon…

NYC Scrabble club

I used to be a serious Scrabble player. I started a club in college, memorized all the two- and three- letter words, joined the National Scrabble Association, and competed in a handful of tournaments.

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Last night, I returned to the NYC club for the first time in months–and I got my butt kicked. I managed to squeak out a five-point win in my first game, 328-323, and it was all downhill from there. My next opponent opened Round Two with KIDDERS for 86 points; the final score was so lopsided that I’m too ashamed to report it. Round Three wasn’t much better, but at least I got beat by a fellow baseball fan. Final score: 434-321.

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It’s amazing how good these people are. I scored 400 points in the fourth and final game and still lost by 83. My opponent unleashed three bingos–that’s what you call a play that uses all seven tiles and earns the coveted 50-point bonus–and I only played one: SEAwEED for 71 points. A few turns later, I played JAPER for 85 points to bring the deficit to 31, only to see my opponent answer with REGOLITh for 60. Then I played FIFTY for 45 points, and she came right back with HEH–tripled in two directions along the bottom of her custom-made board–for 53. Wow.

The expert division never seemed so far away…

Maxim

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QUESTION: How do I know it’s almost time for a new baseball season?

ANSWER: The media has dissed me.

The latest diss is on page 37 of the April issue of Maxim, but who cares…at least they spelled the title of my book correctly. Or did they? Check it out.

Another thing to check out: minorleaguebaseball.com is running its own March Madness tournament to find the best name in the Minor Leagues. Remaining candidates include Winter Polo, Ricky Bambino, Henry Henry, Bronson Kiheimahanaomauiakeo Sardinha, Jung Bong, Jorge Poo Tang, and more. My friend Benjamin Hill wrote a whole article about it with a link at the top where you can vote. Second-round voting ends today, and then it’ll be down to the Sweet 16.

New Shea construction

I went to Shea Stadium this afternoon for a peek at the new ballpark…

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This was the first time I’d ever seen an accumulation of snow on a major league field.

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The new ballpark–Citi Field–is scheduled to open in 2009.

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Just six months ago, construction was still in the “site preparation” phase and had barely gotten started.

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It was fun wandering around and pretty much having the place to myself.

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That said, I’m ready for the madness…

Gustavo Watch, Part 10

It’s not even Spring yet, and the Hample Jinx is already wreaking havoc.
You_are_jinxedLast season, you might recall, during batting practice at Yankee Stadium, a Blue Jays pitcher named Gustavo Chacin knocked a ball out of my glove as I was reeling it in with my glove trick. His actions were rude and intentional, not to mention completely unprovoked, so I unleashed the Jinx. Over the next two months, he suffered through two different injuries, pitched horribly in the minor leagues, returned to the majors with forgettable results, and failed to reach the post-season.

Well, the ball thief has once again fallen victim to the Jinx, this time in a much bigger way: yesterday, he was arrested for drunk driving.

Welcome to 2007, Gus.

BookPage

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Here’s the latest review. It’s from the April issue of BookPage. The image on the left shows the full page. The image on the right is a close-up of the blurb about my book.

Meanwhile, things are really getting busy for me. It’s only 12 days until the book comes out, and there are new ideas and offers and projects coming my way every day. Right now I’m combing through the book to come up with trivia questions for a quiz that will be included in press packets. (Who threw the last legal spitball? How much meal money do minor leaguers get per day? How many nicknames for the curveball can you think of? Etc.) Yesterday, I emailed my editor to find out if my friend Graham can use an excerpt of the book on his very cool web site called Baseball Pilgrimages. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? If I end up with a couple hours to spare, I might head out to Shea Stadium to photograph the construction for the new ballpark.

NPR

I’ve been on NPR a few times before, but today was the first time that I did an interview with them in their studio. I had to check in at a security desk in the lobby of a huge office building near Times npr.jpgSquare, then show this sticker to a guard at the entrance of a whole bank of elevators. I went to the 19th floor, headed through the big glass doors marked “NPR” and checked in with the receptionist. After a few minutes, I was led into the studio–a very small room, probably not more than 100 square feet–and I was the only one in it. The host of the show was in a studio in Washington, D.C. I put on the headphones, did a sound-check with the producer (who was “on the other side of the glass”), and the interview was soon underway. It was a bit nerve-wracking, talking about the book for the FIRST time. I kinda wish I’d had a chance to talk about it on some smaller radio stations first…you know, to get the hang of it and learn what sounds good and what doesn’t. Still, I think I did okay for the most part, and anyway, this was a taped piece, so if I said anything really dumb, it’ll get edited out. I think it’s going to air during the first week of April. Hopefully, I’ll get the details soon…

Book signing

I’m doing a book signing in Manhattan on March 28, and you’re invited. The actual invitation was printed as a postcard. Here’s the front:

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And here’s the back:

swann_invitation2.jpgFeel free to tell other people about this. Just remember that everyone needs to RSVP.

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