Author: Larry LaRuePublication date: June, 2012
Publisher: Reader Publishing Group
It’s an exclusive club. Thirty teams, 25 players each, 750 players in all. For every new player that wins a place on the roster, another player is removed. A few talented players have careers that cover more than two decades. Most last less than three years. But for those who can retain a place on the roster, the money is good – minimum wage is almost $450,000 a year. And if they’re really superstars, they can end up with an annual eight-figure salary. But there is more to it than money.
The men of baseball love the game and they love the clubhouse. The game sometimes costs them their wives and time with their kids. The clubhouse is where they bond as a team and as a family. As with all families, it is a place of laughter and anger, tragedy and loss, happiness and dysfunction. And what unites that family is love. The love of a game called baseball.
This collection of encounters with some of these men by sportswriter Larry LaRue takes the readers inside the clubhouse and behind the scenes to share with the reader what these men have accomplished and the price they have paid.
Interview with Larry LaRue
It began as a notebook of stories for my daughter, Jessica, who had lost so much time with me over the years because I covered Major League baseball and traveled every few weeks. After more than 30 years covering the sport, I wanted to hand her stories of men who’d had an impact on me - and just happened to play baseball.
Q: What has been your favorite response to your work?
My favorite was from a reader who said she didn’t like baseball but loved the book.
Q: What made you choose the unique perspective you did in Major League Encounters?
I got to know the men I wrote about well, and sometimes I was part of their story for a short time. In the end, my daughter told me she learned almost as much about me as about the players I wrote about. Almost.
Q: You've been a sportswriter for a long time. Did you have to make to your writing method when you took up this project?
My writing has always been about personalities - people - rather than the statistics and salaries that so often define professional athletes. I tried to maintain that approach in the book. The numbers are available online to anyone who looks. The stories I’ve written are unique insights into people I found intriguing.
Q: Which do you like better: writing for a magazine/newspaper/journal or writing a book?
A book, for the freedom it allowed. Some of the 100 stories are a page long, others 10. I didn’t write to fill a page, I wrote to tell the story.
Okay, now some fun questions!
Q: What's your favourite sport?
Baseball to watch, basketball to play.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Always. My grandmother worked on a type machine at a newspaper in San Dimas, California. I’d sit in her lap while she’d type, and lead letters would appear like magic and be arranged into words. I wanted to tell stories and she was showing me one way it could be done.
Q: The first book that changed your life…
‘The Mothers’ by Vardis Fisher, about the Donner Party. It was the first book I read that combined fictional approaches to non-fiction events. I hadn’t known that was allowed. It changed the way I thought about writing.
Q: What do you prefer - watching a game, or playing it yourself?
Given the choice, I’d always rather play.
Q: Dark or milk chocolate?
5 Winners will receive a Signed Copy of Major League Encounters by Larry LaRue.
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About The Author
Newspapers were part of his life long before Larry LaRue started working for them at age 18. His grandmother was a typesetter for a weekly in San Dimas, California, and he sat in her lap while she’d run an old lead-type machine. He was first published at 10, when a San Clemente newspaper ran his story on Pookie, his dog.
He’s been writing ever since. Five newspapers, a business journal and an entertainment magazine wrapped around brief careers as a window washer, bouncer, and private investigator. Always, he wrote.
There was a book on an American Capuchin priest who performed exorcisms in New York and Iowa, another on political cartoonists, a novel based on a news story he followed, and a book of major league baseball anecdotes. All wound up in a drawer or a closet. Since 1976, there’s been another constant in his life – George Cunningham. As co-workers, backpackers, entrepreneurs, political opposites, writers, photographers and friends they have pursued projects and dreams together.
Reader Publishing Group may be the best yet for George and Carmela Cunningham, and LaRue was one of the first to leap on their backs.
Currently a writer with the Tacoma News Tribune covering the Seattle Mariners, LaRue’s sports writing can be found at http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/mariners/ and you can follow him and see his photography on Facebook at facebook.com/kwlarue, Twitter at (@LarryLaRue and the News Tribune Mariners’ blog at http://blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/.
His most recent ambition hasn’t changed in 35 years – LaRue is writing projects he hopes Cunningham can use to get him out of the newspaper business.