Today, we are honored to kick off another Grab The Lapels blog tour. This time, it's for Caryn Rose's A Whole New Ballgame, and here she is, sharing with us the story of how her love of baseball all started!
For someone who has published two baseball books in one year, it might seem odd to point out that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to explain one thing about baseball to you. I didn’t grow up a baseball fan; my dad is one of those guys who gave up on baseball when the Dodgers left Brooklyn. My mom was a White Sox fan, but not enough to have passed it down to me. So, I grew up without a team, and very little understanding of baseball.
I lived in Seattle in the mid 90’s, when the Seattle Mariners just started to get good. I had lots of friends who were die-hard fans and always wanted to go to games, and I would go, but largely felt guilty to waste time and money because I didn’t know what was going on. And everyone assumes that you do know, so you don’t want to try to ask them to explain it to you. Some people aren’t good teachers, and others don’t understand things well enough to explain it to you.
When I started dating my significant other almost 11 years ago, I knew he was a die-hard Mets fan, and I never would have expected him to watch less baseball just because we were a couple and I didn’t love baseball like he did. But I definitely wanted to go to games with him, because he loved it so much. So, we started going to games, and I started asking questions, and the more questions I asked, the more he explained. Talking about baseball is one of the things he absolutely loves doing, and his enthusiasm was infectious. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to watch the game if you understand what’s going on.
At some point in 2005 I said, “I think we should go to some more games this summer,” and by the end of the season I had been to 12 games—some I even went to of my own volition, solo, because I’d had a bad day or to get out of the house or because there was a moment I didn’t want to miss, like Mike Piazza’s last game as a Met.
In the winter of 2005, I got an email from the Mets urging me to consider putting down a deposit on a season ticket plan because season ticket holders would have first priority on ticket locations in the new ballpark they were going to start building to replace Shea Stadium. I had seen what had happened to my friends in Seattle when the Mariners moved from the Kingdome to Safeco Field, and I didn’t want that to happen to the SO. I had a day job at the time where I earned commission and I’d had a pretty good month, so I put down a deposit. We were officially Mets season ticket holders.
I started blogging about baseball because I wanted to capture my first real season as a baseball fan. I’m a writer, and writing is how I process and celebrate and commemorate things. It was my own tiny little project, and I had no idea I would be good at it or that anyone who didn’t know me would care about reading it. It was also the first year that the Mets “blogosphere” (for lack of a better word) really took off.
My readership grew as the season went on; my non-sports-loving friends started reading my blog because they liked my writing. Other Mets fans, especially those not in New York any more, started reading it for the same reason. And once we reached the post-season, other non-Mets baseball fans (whose teams were out of contention) were drawn to it. I wrote about baseball the same way I wrote about music; I wrote about the experience of watching the game, of what it was like to be there. This was different than some of the more analytical or statistics-based writing that was going on at the time, and was an easy place for someone to jump in who wasn’t completely familiar with every nuance of the season.
In 2007, I moved the blog off Blogger and bought my domain name, and kept writing. Our ticket plan meant I was at 25 games at a minimum, and we would augment that by following the Mets on the road and visiting other ballparks. We would average 40-45 games a year in a 162 game season, 80 of which are at home. That is a lot of baseball. Some I watched on TV or listened to on the radio, but I was happiest writing about being at Shea Stadium, sitting in Section 12 with the rest of the season ticket holders, people you see twice a week from April to September. The stories of Shea and Mets fans were endless. The Mets, however, did not have an endless season, and if you’ve read the book, you know what happens.
Baseball blogging was now officially a focus of mine, and I was writing about all of the games I attended, every night, just like one of the beat writers. I had finished my first novel and my agent was working on selling it, while I went off and started the next one. Of course, with the frenetic pace of the baseball season, this meant that I only wrote fiction in the off-season. At some point during all of this, an editor contacted my agent, saying that she liked my baseball writing, and wanted me to write a baseball/rock-and-roll type of memoir—she referred to it as “The Eat, Pray, Love of baseball and rock and roll.” I wasn’t interested in doing that, but I was interested in writing about being new to baseball and learning about baseball late in life.
One year, when I was composing a piece to submit to Hobart’s annual baseball-themed issue, I started writing a story about a woman who travels to visit her out-of-town paramour, only to find him otherwise engaged when she arrives. She gets caught in traffic as she’s trying to flee, discovers the traffic is heading for a baseball game, and decides to join them. When the story passed 7,000 words, I realized it had taken on a life of its own. Eventually, it became A Whole New Ballgame.
Caryn Rose is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer who documents rock and roll, baseball and urban life. From 2006-2011, she authored the groundbreaking blog metsgrrl.com, covering baseball and the New York Mets. A Whole New Ballgame is her second novel. You can find her at jukeboxgraduate.com and on Twitter at @carynrose and at @metsgrrl during the season. Purchase A Whole New Ballgame HERE!
Like this post? Why not continue following the rest of the tour? Tomorrow, stop by Booked in Chico for Day 2.