For those of you who don’t know, I have achieved a dream and published a novel. The Legend of League Park is a story about two young women who dreamed of pursuing careers in professional baseball, one as a sportswriter and the other as a professional pitcher. This novel addresses some of the struggles both internally and externally it takes to get them there.
It is also a coming of age story. For Gioia, college means leaving behind the dreams she had always been taught to shoot for and for Audrey, dealing with the last days of her father’s terminal illness, college means it’s time to forge your own path.
(There’s also touch of paranormal ghostly assistance as a thinly veiled history lesson, but I write a bit on the Gothic side, that’s how I do.)
This book has been a long time coming in a variety of ways. It has existed in several different incarnations with wildly varying plots, but then something happened which inspired the final version.
I’ll tell you a story: When I was eleven, I loved baseball. I went with my parents to Cleveland games. I watched them at home when we couldn’t go. I played basketball and softball (I wasn’t good, but I had heart.) and listened with rapt attention as my school discussed the possibility of starting a girls’ soccer team at our middle school. I idolized the women of the WNBA . I had Jackie Mitchell’s name written in my dreams. Then I was twelve and things changed. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but peer pressure had a lot to do with it. I got picked on a lot throughout my elementary years and it progressed to full fledged bullying during middle school. I quit playing all sports. My confidence in everything about myself (not just my athletic abilities, but -everything-) diminished. It took far too long to get beyond that.
Flash forward almost 15 years and I have a four year old Goddaughter who loves baseball as much as I did at her age, if not more. Not to mention the fact that this girl has quite the arm on her. I told her one day “With an arm like that, you could be a pitcher when you grow up.”
She replied, point blank, “Girls don’t play baseball.”
I was floored, but then I remembered. You can’t be what you can’t see. It’s hard to imagine being something that you’ve never seen before, even for an imaginative and (okay, I’m biased, but) brilliant child. I’m not an athlete anymore; likely, I never would have been, but that attitude that forces interest away is wrong. So, I wrote about Gioia who broke through as best she could.
The same goes for sports media. A secondary plot in the book is Audrey’s quest to become a sportswriter. As I researched the history of women in sports media, I was floored by the amount of overt sexism and sexual violence perpetrated against women in that particular career path, merely because they took an interest in a traditionally male dominated area. Little was written on their accomplishments (except countless articles listing “Sexiest Female Sportscasters”) and many pioneering women in sports media didn’t even have Wikipedia entries. That which was written chronicled events of mistreatment that disturbed me to core. I would have to give significant trigger warnings if I went into any more detail.
The Legend of Park is my first published novel. It is a dream come true for the girl who wanted to write books even before she had the proper fine motor skills required to hold a pen (and besides, who am I kidding? People write with computers now.), but there is also something in here, I hope, for the young woman tired of hearing that sports are only for boys, or who just doesn’t know what’s going to happen to those dreams she holds dear in the face of the big bad world.
So, pick up a copy and in the mean time, check out this fabulous organization: Baseball For All