While researching for my upcoming picture book, A Ticket to the Pennant, Dave Eskenazi, a local sports-historian and memorabilia collector, pointed me toward the 1930’s and the 50’s that might serve as interesting decades for local Rainiers baseball. After a closer look it was 1955 that stuck with me. There were too many enticing details, personalities and ties to present day Seattle that I couldn’t resist.
Lately there has been a small surge of a demonstration of those ties, so I thought I’d share them here. Below is a link to a recent article about the Hutchinson family and their role in current Fred Hutch fund-raising events. Fred was a Franklin High phenom pitcher, major league player and manager and the manager of the 1955 PCL Seattle Rainiers:
The next link is a tribute in the paper a couple weeks ago. It includes a fan’s recollection of the days when his father worked alongside Dr. Hutchinson, brother to Fred, who dedicated the cancer research organization to his older brother.
This year, The Hutch Award was awarded to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. This prestigious award is given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies Fred’s honor, courage and dedication on and off the field. As the Fred Hutch website states, “Over the past 16 years, the Hutch Award Luncheon has raised gross proceeds of more than $4.8 million to support lifesaving research.”
Pretty amazing, rich connections. I’m curious what other stories will rise to the surface with the book’s release in April alongside spring training and a new major league baseball season. I get the feeling many people around here are excited to share stories about their own baseball pasts.
Every so often I struggle with this change from full time teaching to home-dad/writer. Part of me wrestles with the idea of “not working” and staying home to care for my kids. I’ve gone off to a job since I was around fourteen and I’ve always worked hard. This is a different kind of hard work. I now have more choices in how I approach my day, my to-do list, which I’ve never had to this degree.
Some days working on the craft of storytelling feels frivolous, especially when I hear former colleagues tell teaching stories from the trenches. I miss the camaraderie that the shared miseries and joys can bring. Sometimes I get a small dose of regret, especially in the midst of a conversation with my spouse on what I might try to complete around the house during the day. I realize it’s pride. Not attractive, but there it is. Other times I am content to be, as I’ve dubbed it, a “domestic warrior.”
“It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it Jo.”
His respect for the serious and necessary art of storytelling was obvious, which–at least temporarily–shores up my weird desire to constantly improve at this lonely, challenging craft. This recent TEDtalk message from Linda Sue Park also helps (to say the least).
So I think upon those things, then my head starts to swim with all the character inconsistencies, world building logistical problems and setting details still to address in my current novel project..
Most people believe not so much in truth as in things they wish were the truth.” – Haruki Murakami
Sometimes a quote comes along that resonates so I’ll put it up on my writing desk wall. Murakami amazes me with his storytelling. This year–with some creative space, along with many years of taking this work ever more seriously–my awareness of the powers one has at one’s disposal continues to awaken. Not that I’ve mastered things (never going to happen), but the other day when reading something exceptionally weird, wacky and successful, I thought to myself, “I can truly do whatever I want.” It’s like these huge, old antique, gargoyle-knocker laden doors continue to creak open revealing tools, worlds and playfulness I didn’t know existed… or wasn’t ready for yet. Sure there are conventions to keep in mind, but if you’re willing to give it a try, take some criticism to work out the kinks and put in the effort you can potentially do some inspiring things. So cool. And so scary. Daunting & exciting. Thrilling & terrifying.
What can quality writing do? For one example, it can make me want to buy a new record. This was the description from a Daptone Records advert I recently came across. Beautifully written–funny, entertaining, some kind of core truth–and now I have to hear this music.
I love when thoughtful, well-crafted writing is so spot on in its purpose, it moves me to alter the course of my day in some way. Be it in thought or deed. So sometime soon I’m going to listen to me a new tune. Read the album description below to see if it is as effective for you as it was for me
(Note: I do not receive any kickbacks from either Daptone Records or from James Hunter):
The James Hunter Six
“Something’s Calling” b/w “Talkin’ “Bout My Love”
LIMITED translucent blue colored vinyl available ONLY at the Daptone Shop.
Within the House of Soul, the Daptone Staff is affectionately referred to as “The Hate Crew,” a name they have earned from their years of ruthless evisceration of anything which doesn’t meet their impossibly idealistic expectations. Armed with rolling eyes and barbs of sarcasm, they are the true guardians of the Daptone Sound. The problem is, this new James Hunter single has turned them all into adorable little kittens. They spend all day mewing to the ballads and scampering about to the uptempo cuts instead of selling records. In an effort to save the company, label Boss Neal Sugarman declared a “Hunter Free Zone,” but when he tried to pry the test pressing of Hunter’s latest single from the office turntable and replace it with something a bit more hate-able, the needle slipped and dropped back into the grooves of “Something’ s Calling,” irreversibly morphing him too into a small playful kitten. Meow, James Hunter. Meow. Out January 22nd. Begins shipping the week of January 18th.
Went walking across South and Central Seattle a few weeks ago to visit a coffee shop on Union to write. I came through this park on MLK Jr. where my kids have played since they were small. Whenever we drive by, which is often, we see kids and families playing there. It is busy and well-used. We call it “Spider Web Park” due to the large net installation for kid climbing (Maybe, ahem, one particular adult, too.).
On this trip through on foot, I took my time and stopped to read the signs. It’s called Powell Barnett Park. Oddly enough, I named a couple in my upcoming picture book after this man. I had learned he was a generous part of the baseball community back in the day and thought it would be a nice nod to a strong personality in his community. Reading these displays in the park began to show even more what kind of man he was.
Nice to learn even more while out on a stroll through this fine city and fine neighborhood. My kind of guy in that he gave through his actions as well as his words.
Among favorite excerpts from the signage:
“In his younger years he was a star baseball player, and later organized and managed the Royal Colored Giants, an under-21 semi-pro baseball team. Sports and working with youth and young adults was a continuing priority. He worked to bring Little League Baseball to Seattle.
His community political and social activist work included helping found The Seattle Urban League, the local NAACP chapter, and the Leschi Improvement Council.
He chaired a committee to help return Japanese citizens into the community after World War II.”
Thanks, Mr. Barnett. See below links for more information.
A fundraising letter from the organization StoryCorps came in the mail last week. I’ve loved the idea of them for a long time, and have especially enjoyed their animated shorts. But the premise of their mission spoke to me so much I thought I’d share here:
“Narrowing the empathy gap, celebrating stories of grace and justice, giving one another hope, bring this country closer together–this is the work that all of us at StoryCorps have devoted ourselves to, body and soul…
…Every day, we receive profound and moving feedback from participants, listeners, and viewers that highlights the value of our important efforts. The numbers speak loudly:
80% felt StoryCorps positively exposed them to people of different races or ethnicities.
78% felt StoryCorps humanizes social issues, events, and policies.”
…your donation will ensure we continue to help this nation become more just and empathetic.”
Power through storytelling? Humanizing one another through story?
StoryCorps, you just earned yourself a donation.