Garret Mathews has a favorite baseball memory. When he was a boy, he lived next to Gail Harris, a big leaguer with the New York Giants and Detroit Tigers. Harris once told him that on the last game of the year he had 19 runs and wanted to hit his 20th. The opposing team's catcher, Earl Batty, was a friend. "Earl knew I'd probably never hit that many again... so he agreed to give me a chance." The next pitch was a fastball, and Harris drove it over the right field fence. Mathews remembers, "I was in heaven. He had given me something more precious than balls and bats. He had shared a piece of baseball lore."
Mathews asked 64 people, including LeRoy Neiman, Don Larson, Dick Vitale, and W.P. Kinsella, to share their own pieces of baseball lore. The result is Baseball Days, a nostalgic look at the national pastime. The pieces range from the sad (Bill Bradley remembering how his team had to stay in a dive hotel during a Little League playoff because the better places wouldn't accept the team's black players), to the poignant (Robert Goulet remembering his dad pulling him out of a game to go to his piano lessons), to the funny (sportswriter Hale Brown's "I took up baseball at the age of eight and gave it up after 2 minutes, the length of time it took me to take the field at shortstop and get hit in the nose with an errant ground ball. I ended up with no hits, no runs, one chance, and one error."). A sweet tribute to America's game. --M. Stein
About the Author
Garret Mathews is a columnist for the Evansville (IN) Courier & Press.