Tag Archives: baseball

Another round-tripper by Naples author Kate Angell

No One Like You, by Kate Angell. Kensington. 304 pages. Trade paperback $9.95.

Lovers of contemporary romance will find many satisfactions in Ms. Angell’s latest addition to her Barefoot William series. The name is not that of a mythological beach bum, but a Gulf Coast Florida beach town pretty much owned by the Cates family. It’s time for spring training, and the Richmond Rogues major league baseball team has made its new home in Barefoot William, much to the pleasure of team captain Rylan Cates, a hometown hero.  NoOneLikeYouCover

Because Ryland has many leadership responsibilities during the eight week spring training season, he advertises for a personal assistant. Beth Avery, a newcomer fighting a losing streak in her personal life, wins the job – and much more.

Beth’s job is includes keeping Rylan on schedule, taking care of the house, preparing some meals, and – most importantly – taking care of his four dogs. Atlas, the huge Great Dane, is way more than a handful. The author builds this stubborn but loving creature into a complex personality. Strange as it may seem, Atlas is the third most important character in the book. His tail-wagging cohorts are also memorable creations.

Who are the other important characters? Clearly enough, the members of his two extended families: Rylan’s many tightly knit and mutually supportive Barefoot William relatives and his fellow Richmond Rogues. Ms. Angell’s readers have met many of them before.

This time out, comic relief is provided by the nuisance behavior of Halo Todd and his sidekick Landon Kane, two of the team’s star players. They hang around Rylan’s home uninvited, drop in for meals, and generally impose upon Rylan’s good nature. Beth’s patience is strained by the goofy presumption of this duo. However, she does manage to involve them in preparing for a big party, even while risking the payback they’ll expect. Halo and Land are immaturity raised to a higher power.

The heart of the story, of course, is the unwanted romance brewing and bubbling between Rylan and Beth. Their attraction to one another is powerful, yet neither is looking for intimacy or commitment. The timing just doesn’t seem right. Ryland has to concentrate on his extensive responsibilities as team captain; Beth needs to get her feet on the ground in her new surroundings and find the strength to overcome recent disappointments.

Living in the same house and working together so often, they become aware of each other’s strengths and virtues. Mutual respect and blazing sexual attraction are a powerful combination, yet each remains somewhat guarded as the fire builds. Where is this relationship going, besides the bedroom? A big question for both of them – and for the reader. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 20, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 21 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions. 

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Professional baseball challenges female player

Where the Falcon Flies, by August Sterling. Barringer Publishing. 280 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.

This is a very sweet novel: gentle, buoyant, and inspiring. Can sweetness thrive in contemporary fiction? I’m pleased to know that books like this one are being written and published. They deserve an audience. Enough with the doom and darkness already! falconFrnt

Cassie “The Falcon” Peregrine is an attractive, sensitive young woman just finishing junior college. Baseball is her passion, the arena in which she feels fulfilled and at home. From the Chicago area suburban village of Hebron, this avid Cubs fan plays for a local team in a semi-pro league. She is well-liked, with supportive parents who respect her wishes while worrying about her future.

Her life begins to change rapidly when a savvy, respected scout sees her play. Brock Starwood, who scouts for the Cubs system, comes to check out a pitching prospect on the opposing team. However, Cassie’s all-around play and all-out style captivates him. Although no women were playing in the minor leagues, Starwood feels that Cassie has the talent to go all the way to the majors.

He knew the obstacles that stood in her way: tradition, male chauvinism, taunting, and worse. Nevertheless, Starwood made an appointment to meet Cassie and her family, and the outcome was the offer of a three-year contract to play for the Berkshire Bears, the AA league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Only Starwood could have persuaded the higher-ups to make such a deal; he was courageous enough to put his reputation on the line.

Once Cassie signs, she is off to her new home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Sterling

Sterling

August Sterling does a fine job of characterizing Cassie both as a young woman and as “The Falcon,” a fledgling professional second baseman. He shows her in the context of family and friends as well as in the context of the ball field, the dugout, and the locker room. The tension between these two identities provides considerable interest and suspense.

As Cassie takes the long auto trip to Pittsfield, her thoughts involve this same tension, a mixture of anxiety and ambition. By the time she makes a stopover in Cooperstown, New York to pay homage to the greats memorialized the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Mr. Sterling has quite fully won his readers over. We care about Cassie: her dream and her destiny.

Once she is introduced to the team, her trials and opportunities begin. Cassie balks (clever choice?) at any hint of favoritism because she is a woman, knowing this is already suspected and will backfire anyway. And yet she must accept private living quarters and private bathroom facilities. She doesn’t so much want to be one of the boys, but one of the team members. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 4, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the February 5 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, and the February 19 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Sterling 1 and here: Florida Weekly – Sterling 2.

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Beach reading par excellence

Review by Phil Jason

No Sunshine When She’s Gone, by Kate Angell. Kensington Books. 288 pages. Paperback $9.95.

You like baseball? You like beaches? You like shapely, hot babes? You like chiseled, sexy guys? You like lavish houseboats and penthouse condos? Yes? Then grab ahold of the third title in Kate Angell’s Barefoot William Series and get ready for waves of tension-filled romance.  NoSunshineWhenShesGone

Jillian Mac and her good friend Carrie have been sent to the Gulf Coast beach town of Barefoot William by their employer, the Richmond Rogues major league baseball team. Both women are in their early thirties, good-looking (though Jill has the edge here), and – of course – single. They are tasked with the community relations effort accompanying the new spring training facility that the team is building in this laid back resort town.

The town seems to be the private domain of one extended family – the Cates family. They own many of the businesses, including a successful construction company run by Aidan Cates. This company has the contract to build the Richmond Rogues complex.

However, the town recently made peace with its more upscale neighbor, Saunders Shores, in conjunction with a marriage that joined the Cates and Saunders families.

In the launching scene of the book, Aidan Cates is coaxed into visiting a fortune teller by a woman named Lila who seems to be chasing after him with some success. There is a gathering of well-known psychics taking place on the Barefoot William boardwalk. Though most of the booths for psychic readings have long lines, one is not busy. Lila and Aiden soon engage with an attractive clairvoyant named Aries Martine, but the shapely psychic exposes Lila as a two-timer who is only a using Aidan.

Or so it seems. Certainly Lila is exposed, but the woman in the chair is Jillian Mac. She had sat down to rest at the empty station and just played along with the false assumption that she was Aries the clairvoyant. It was her idea of fun, but it led to bad feelings and mistrust before the powerful connection felt between Jill and Aidan began to develop.

As Aidan is witness to Jillian’s professional skills at work – including arranging all the details for a promotional, community-building softball game between Rogue alumni and locals – he begins to admire her more and more. However, her attraction to telling little white lies keeps Aidan cautious. In this situation, he is the more conservative one while Jillian seems more spontaneous and flamboyant. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 29, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the June 4 Fort Myers edition, and the June 5 Bonita Springs and Port Charlotte/ Punta Gorda editions, click here Florida Weekly – Angell 1 and here Florida Weekly – Angell 2

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Dorothy Mills hits a home run with baseball novel

“Drawing Card,” by Dorothy Seymour Mills. McFarland. 265 pages. $25 trade paperback. 

Dorothy Seymour Mills

Sitting down with a new book by Dorothy Mills is always a rewarding experience. In her latest, she mixes two of her areas of expertise – historical fiction and baseball history – to provide an unusual and provocative novel. The protagonist, Annie Cardello, is a young woman of Sicilian heritage whose youthful passion is playing baseball. 

Readers will be familiar with the common meaning of “drawing card,” a person or attraction that lures people to a place of entertainment. In her short career in baseball, Annie Cardello, her last name shortened to its first syllable, earned the nickname “Drawing Card” as she was skillful and colorful enough to be a drawing card for her team and for her sport. 

Mills’ portrait of teenage Annie adroitly playing women’s baseball in a Cleveland area industrial league is vivid and exciting. The character’s enthusiasm is delightful. However, in fictional Annie’s time there was far less of a future in this kind of athletic pursuit than there is today. She had no place to go with her talent. No way, that is, to be true to herself.

The man with the power to open professional baseball up to women, Judge Landis, would not honor contracts between female athletes and the clubs and leagues he ruled. It’s easy to think that if had ruled in favor of women players, it would have been smooth sailing for the best of them. Of course, it would not have been. However, Annie takes the judge’s ruling hard. She swears vengeance. She feels that something within her has died.

Ms. Mills carries Annie’s life forward through the years of the Great Depression and the decades that follow. She marries into an upper-crust family, primarily to be in a position to support her own family. However, her husband, John Smith, turns out to be an uncontrollable abuser. By the time that they make a trip to her ancestral homeland of Sicily, Annie needs to be free of him – and she manages to manipulate his demise. The years that follow are ones of subservience to the influential Smith family and of mounting frustration. They are also years in which self-justification and guilt war within her.

Late revelations about money left for Annie without her knowledge only complicate her situation, as that money is owed to someone who would threaten her life and the lives of those around her to get what he wants.

Annie’s personal story is set into larger contexts in various ways. The most risky is the author’s decision to include time travel. We meet earlier incarnations of Annie’s competitive feminist spirit in ancient Greece (as Demetra) in the late Middle Ages (as Demona) and protesting the first modern Olympics held in 1898) (as Stamata). This is an interesting way of universalizing Annie’s dilemma, but it takes attention away from Annie herself. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the May 30, 2012 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the May 31 Naples edition, and the June 7 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter edition, click here:  Florida Weekly – DrawingCard 1 pdf and here: Florida Weekly – DrawingCard 2 pdf

See also: https://philjason.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/dorothy-mills-throws-strikes-in-book-on-baseball-history/

And https://philjason.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/613/

And https://philjason.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/book-beat-54-naples-literary-news/

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Dorothy Mills Throws Strikes in Book on Baseball History

“Chasing Baseball,” by Dorothy Seymour Mills. McFarland. 258 pages. $39.95.

Naples resident Dorothy Mills has had a distinguished career as a writer of children’s books and historical novels. Until recently, her career as a trailblazer in the field of baseball history was relatively unknown. Her biography, “A Woman’s Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour”(2004), allowed her to step out of the shadows and gain recognition as her first husband’s partner in the momentous three-volume history of baseball published by Oxford University Press.  Her new book, “Chasing Baseball: Our Obsession with Its History, Numbers, People, and Places,” presents not only a wide array of information about the national pastime, but also the author’s views on the relationship between baseball and American values.

“Chasing Baseball” is two books in one. Part One, “A Manly Pursuit,” examines the values of the game as a reflection of national character understood as manly traits. Also in this section, Mrs. Mills details the contrast between what she labels “The Amateur Spirit,” in which participation derives from a true love of the sport, and the business of professional baseball, in which those essential values – over the many decades of growth – have been compromised if not obliterated. When the dollar rules, fair play often does not. For the amateur, the joy of competing is everything, for the professional and certainly for the team owner, the bottom line – winning and its cash rewards – is what it’s all about.

Throughout her discussion, Dorothy Mills draws upon her vast learning and her story-telling skills, allowing readers to see and feel the broader, more abstract issues. Her book is at once friendly and philosophical, colorful and educational. Many myths about baseball are undermined, including the one about it being invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY.

To read this article in its entirety, as it appears in the April 1-7, 2010 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly, click hereFlorida Weekly – Chasing Baseball pdf

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Naples Author Pitches Baseball History

“Everything good happens to me on July 5,” says Dorothy Jane Mills.

Indeed, she was born that day in 1928. She moved into her much loved home in The Carlisle, a retirement community in Naples, that day in 2007. And on July 5 this year, Mrs. Mills was credited in The New York Times with furthering a much-publicized FBI investigation into the theft and fraudulent auctioning of rare baseball documents.

A few weeks before the Times article was published, Mrs. Mills had received a phone call from an FBI agent asking her a question that probably no one else could have answered. The agent needed to know if a certain letter had been part of the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection, a repository of early baseball history.

To see the rest of this article, as it appeared in August 27-September 2 (2009) issue of the Naples Florida Weekly, click  Florida Weekly – Dorothy Jane Mills

Catch up with this fascinating writer at www.dorothyjanemills.com

Here is the cover of her forthcoming book, mentioned in the article:

highresolutioncoverchasing

 

 

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Ball Cap Secrets Revealed

Ball Cap Nation, by James Lilliefors. Clerisy Press. 218 pages. $15.95

Naples knows Jim Lilliefors for his excellent magazine and newspaper work, and also for his fine writing in Philharmonic Center for the Arts publications. His books include a novel, Bananaville, and two earlier forays into popular culture: Highway 50 and America’s Boardwalks.  Ball Cap

Ball Cap Nation addresses the material and cultural history of the baseball cap in a breezy, sometimes self-deprecating tone. Lilliefors seems to insist that his “Journey through the World of America’s National Hat” is not to be taken very seriously. However, this strategy allows him to sneak in plenty of solid information about this omnipresent head-topper.

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To see the entire review as it appears in the Naples Florida Weekly for July 16-22, 2009 click here:Florida Weekly – James Lilliefors. For pdf version, click here:Ball Cap Nation PDF

For more on James Lilliefors, see James Lilliefors profile and review.

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BOOK BEAT 52 – Bonnie Crosby

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 15-21, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

Few teams have had the love of their local fans and of the American public to the degree achieved by the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose mix of failure, success, and colorful characters made them synonymous with baseball for several decades. Some say they were the first “America’s Team.” For many, the Dodgers were family, and this loving tribute to the team and to Barney Stein’s memorializing photographs has the flavor of a family album.

“Through a Blue Lens,” by Dennis D’Agostino and Neapolitan Bonnie Crosby, does justice to a brilliant photographer and a tantalizing sports epoch.

The nearly 200 photographs are a selection of those taken by Stein from 1937-1957, the twenty-one years that he served as the official Dodgers photographer. For Stein, this was his afternoon job, following hours he would put in as a news photographer for the New York Post.  

Many of the photos in this collection had not been seen in fifty years; others, including those of the final Dodgers game at Ebbets Field, had never before been published. Crosby, who discovered the treasure trove of her father’s seemingly lost photographs several years ago, spent two years cataloging them and digitizing them. She was tracked down by sports historian D’Agostino, who some twenty years before the collaboration had found a beat-up paperback called “The Rhubarb Patch” that included yellowing pages of Barney Stein’s photographs. His initial search to find Barney’s daughter did not pan out, but when she created a website to document her father’s work, D’Agostino was able to get in touch with her and propose the project of bringing Stein’s Dodger photographs to a new audience. When Crosby found out that D’Agostino was originally from Brooklyn, the deal was sealed.

The “family album” flavor of the book is enhanced by the reminiscences of several Dodger greats. These include Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Ralph Branca, Clem Labine, and Johnny Podres.  There are also comments by (and photos of) the master announcer Vin Scully, Mrs. Gil Hodges, and Dodgers’ executive Buzzie Bavasi. Because she was prescient enough to interview her father shortly before his death in 1993, Bonnie Crosby also brings us her father’s own words.

The selection includes not only memorable action photos of games and great locker room moments, but also spring training (at Vero Beach), social events, groupings of players’ wives and executives, photos of the players at home, and many celebrity shots. Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, General Douglas MacArthur, Nat King Cole, President Dwight Eisenhower, Red Skelton, and Marilyn Monroe are among those found in or around Ebbets Field and caught in Barney Stein’s viewfinder.

There is a special chapter on the legendary Jackie Robinson, another on the championship season of 1955, and finally one on the demolition of Ebbets Field that marked the end of Brooklyn Dodger history.

Included the book is Stein’s most famous photo, one of the most famous in sports history. It won the first prize in the New York Press Photographers’ Sports Class and the prestigious Izzy Kaplan Memorial Trophy. This is, of course, the shot of Dodgers’ pitcher Ralph Branca, sobbing on the clubhouse steps of the Polo Grounds in 1951. Branca had served up the immortal three-run game-winning homer to New York Giants’ outfielder Bobby Thomson in the ninth inning of the third and final game of the National League playoffs.

For this reader, whose only visit to Ebbets Field occurred around 1950 for a game in which the great Stan Musial was swinging his bat for the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, the collection not only captures the mystique of the Dodgers before their flight to Los Angeles, but it also opens a black and white window on urban America during this era. Here in abundance is the look of the times – the clothing styles, the haircuts, the billboards and advertising styles, and the broadcast booths. The collection provides a poignant review of a key component of American popular culture during a period that seems, from today’s perspective, refreshingly innocent. And, by the way, these are simply great photos.

at Yogi Berra Museum

Bonnie Crosby and her husband, Steve, have made Naples their home since 2004. Naples met two important criteria for the couple: it had the climate characteristics that Bonnie Crosby needed for her health, and it had the calendar of artistic and cultural events that they craved. “Through a Blue Lens,” published by sports specialist publisher Triumph Books, is widely available. A somewhat different representation of Barney Stein’s work, prepared by Crosby, is available on the website barneystein-photography.com.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.

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BOOK BEAT 7 – Dorothy Jane Mills

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 23-29, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

Who has written three historical novels, a vegetarian cookbook, a basketful of recently republished classic books for children, a memoir, and co-authored a definitive three-volume work on baseball history? Naples resident Dorothy Jane Mills is that person. Eclectic? For sure. Eccentric? Maybe just a little.

Mills grew up in the Cleveland area. She recalls being an avid reader with early intentions of being a writer. In fact, she co-edited her high school newspaper before going on to major in English at what became Cleveland State University. There, too, she worked on the newspaper and also contributed to the literary magazine. She worked as a “copy boy” for the Cleveland News and then as a proofreader in the advertising department of the Halle Brothers Department Store.
In college she also discovered the drama of history. And, while performing part-time secretarial duties for various professors, she discovered Professor Harold Seymour. After her third year of college, Seymour divorced his wife to marry Dorothy, and she transferred to a branch of Case Western Reserve, now focusing on an education degree. The young married woman taught while completing her master’s degree, and she also began assisting her husband with his research for a Ph.D. dissertation on baseball history. The couple then moved to Buffalo, New York, where Mrs. Seymour taught and started work on a doctorate.

Harold Seymour’s first book, published when they lived in New York City, grew out of his dissertation and received much attention in the press. It was to be the first of three volumes on baseball history that he published, with his wife as unacknowledged co-author.

In the 1960s, the Seymours lived outside of New York City, continuing with the baseball series. Dorothy then wrote a series of ten children’s books that were published in 1965. These became very popular, and five of them have recently been republished for a new generation of young learners. These include Anne Likes Red, The Tent, and Ballerina Bess. The couple moved to New England in 1966 and the following year Dorothy Seymour became an editor at Ginn and Company, an established educational publisher.

Through the seventies and eighties, Dorothy did her free-lance writing and editing while helping Harold complete the next two volumes of the baseball history series. She became interested in Irish customs and history after spending part of a year living in Ireland with her husband. Returning to the States to be near research sources, Dorothy found herself doing more and more of Harold’s work as he became depressed and unfocused. After a while, it became clear that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

By the time Harold Seymour died in 1992, Dorothy had begun work on The Scepter, the first of her trilogy of historical novels. It deals with Austrian Nazis in the 1930s. In 1993, while on a cruise, she met a retired Royal Canadian Air Force officer named Roy Mills. After settling residence requirements, the two were married and found a vacation home in Naples. In 1998, The Sceptre was published on the internet. The following year, Roy and Dorothy Mills moved to Naples permanently and The Sceptre was published in hard copy. In subsequent years, an author now known as Dorothy Jane Mills continued the saga of Katya Becker with two more novels – The Labyrinth and The Treskel. In this expansive trilogy, Mills realizes her love of history’s drama and shares it with her readers. 

But before bringing this final leg of the fiction trilogy into print last year, Mills published two other books, both nonfiction. The first, Meatless Meat, is a vegetarian cookbook that has won many fans. The other is her revealing memoir: Woman’s Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour. Here Mills reveals the details of her uncredited collaboration.

 

Baseball: The People’s Game, book three in Harold Seymour’s history series, includes five chapters on early women’s baseball for which Mills had done the research – and most of the writing. “These chapters,” she notes, “became the first to explain the extent of women’s play and the enthusiasm with which they played the game.” Indeed, Mills’ trailblazing research in this area led to her receiving an award from the Woman’s Baseball League – an engraved red bat – at the league’s initial conference in 2001.

So, what’s next? What does a historical novelist do with all that baseball knowledge? Mills writes, “A serious historical novel about a woman baseball player hasn’t yet been published. A few slight books for young adults have entered the market, but they fail to appeal to an adult audience. In this new book, my twenty-fifth, to be called Drawing Card, I’m writing about a young woman baseball player in Cleveland of the 1920s and 1930s. It tells the story of Annie Cardello, an Italian-American daughter of immigrants, who plays with independent and textile teams of the city and interacts with other Clevelanders from more exalted walks of life.”

Mills is available for presentations, and readers can subscribe to her free email newsletter. While awaiting the completion and publication of Drawing Card, keep up with this versatile writer and find out how to order her books by browsing the website dorothyjanemills.com.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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