Book One? Why are there two books? In July 2011, I attended the annual Lester Malloy Negro League Baseball Conference in Indianapolis IN. The conference is co-sponsored by Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and Black Ball Journal. It is a gathering of baseball historians, primarily those with a strong interest in the history of Negro League baseball. There is usually local media and a few former Negro League ball players in attendance, also. There are vendors like McFarland Publishing Company and suppliers of Negro League memorabilia.
My purpose for attending this conference – I needed input from baseball historians and former Negro League players about the viability of a historical fiction “what if” book to honor Black Ball (Negro League or segregated baseball). The feedback I received at this conference from historians and former players –the concept of my “what if” book would honor Black Ball.
Five months later (December 2011), I was talking to one of the baseball historians who I met at the July conference. He asked me “How is the book coming along?” I told him I was approaching three hundred pages and the season was only half over! He said, “Bob, you are not writing a novel, do half a season.” I thanked him. When I hung up, I felt very excited. This historian does not know it but I believe God spoke to me through him.
Within twenty-four hours, I knew that I would have a manuscript in the hands of a publisher within two weeks! Initially I called the contact person at McFarland Publishing Company. They publish many hundreds of academic baseball books. I was informed they strictly do historical books, not historical fiction. I then googled “self-publishing book companies.” At the time, being 70 years old, if I wanted a book published (in my lifetime), it would be with me being the primary investor. The first self-publishing company to pop up was Author House. I visited their website. They seemed like a solid company but their structure seemed to favor their company, not the author. Then I went to the website of Dog Ear Publishing Company. This company allowed the author to control pricing and the profit I would make per book. I contacted an author that published his book through Dog Ear Publishing and he said they did everything they promised.
Two weeks later on January 2, 2012, I sent my manuscript to them. On July 2, 2012, I had my first five books off the press (six months to the day). In my opinion, there are two books because God told me through this other baseball historian, to publish Book One, The Best Season – The First Ninety Games, now!
Why were Negro League players in the Pursue the Pennant Card Set in 1993? I believe Pursue the Pennant Baseball Game Company, was the first to have Negro League ballplayers in their card sets (1993). When I was President of Pursue the Pennant (1990 – 1995) we created our Hall of Fame/All Star card set (over 400 players and 700 player cards). Our first parameter for the card set, all players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as of 1992 (approximately 190 players) will be in the set, Negro League had to be included in card set because eleven of them were in the HOF, at that time. Remember when the card set was produced in 1993, I had no idea that a book would follow some nineteen years later!
What makes the book unique? There are many wonderful historical books on the Negro Leagues but there is not much written about their accomplishments between the foul lines. As I started to play games, Negro League players vs. these Major League Hall of Fame/All Star ball players, I realized this would be a powerful witness to these twenty-one stars of the Negro Leagues (nineteen in the National Baseball HOF) as well as all former players in the Negro Leagues and their family and friends. My book, The Best Season – The First Ninety Games honors Black Ball.
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Bob, The Baseball Man