I have an idea for a book. It's about baseball--well, not totally about baseball. The book will be sort of about me, my friends, my political views, and my adult passion for the sport I've loved since 1950 when, as a 5-year-old, I started rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
If you can find a publisher who will bankroll me, I'd like to travel around the country, visiting as many major league parks as possible. I'll pick up a little local color in each city, sit in the various press boxes and then let my pen fly with whatever I come up with.
With a nice five-figure advance, the book could be a chronological story of the upcoming 1983 season. (I also want to backtrack at any point in the book and reminisce with whatever anecdotes come to mind--even if they have nothing whatever to do with baseball.) Also, I reserve the right to amend the text prior to publication to get in baseball facts that happen after the '83 season is over.
A word about style: I won't try to avoid using cliche's. After all, they're as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and beer. I mean, if a guy is pushing middle age and is still playing well, I'm going to peg him as an "ageless wonder"; if a ballpark is shabby, it'll be "down on its heels"; if something is quite unattractive, I'll say it's "ugly as sin." Get the idea?
Now about my habits--legal, ethical, moral or otherwise. I plan to let it all hang out on this one, Harold. I'll be sly about my drug use: But, let's face it, you can't ignore something that's so much a part of life. And about my boozing--I plan to mention in detail just about every swig of vodka and Miller Lite that I down. Don't ask me why. Wait till you see the manuscript, and you'll see how the drug-taking, the drinking, my bouts with depression and my baseball obsession are all of a piece.
I can think of dozens of vignettes to pepper the book with. They'll be very brief and anecdotal. Some of them will only take up one or two pages; none will be longer than a half-dozen pages.
I'll do some chapters on memorable games I've seen. Believe it or not, I actually was in the stands at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961--the day Roger Maris hit his 61st home run. I was the only person in the place who didn't cheer; I was an ardent Yankee hater. I can get another chapter out of the game in which my pals Jim and Rhodes and I saw Hank Aaron's final major-league RBI. There's also got to be a chapter on the time a bunch of us got stuck in an overcrowded, overheated subway car in the Bronx late one night after a Yankee game. Instead of rioting, the perspiring masses spontaneously started singing "New York, New York." Two nuns even joined in. My friend Sue later said it was the best time she had had in her life.
Harold, I know this sounds like a self-indulgent, disjointed, pointless book. I must admit that I really don't have a clear vision of what it is I want to do. But I'm going with an anarchic-amorphic approach. I'll let the chips fall where they may--isn't that what books are for? I have a gut feeling things will fall into place.
The reason I know a publisher will buy the idea is that the people at E.P. Dutton already have. They've brought out "Confessions From Left Field" by former radical Raymond Mungo. That book resembles the one I've sketched out, except Mungo is an old Red Sox and Mariner fan who's switched to rooting for the Montreal Expos. His idea was to cover the 1980 season, but the book has a lot of asides, reminiscences, flashbacks and flash forwards. A good deal of it has nothing to do with baseball.
I think Mungo's main influence is one-time gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. For one thing, Mungo himself is the center of the book. That's Thompson all over. Mungo ignores his supposed main point, baseball, with regularity. He also reports regularly on the booze and drugs he consumes.
I think aping Thompson is a mistake. Dr. Gonzo was like a breath of fresh air when his fear-and-loathing style blew in in the early '70s. But, hey, it's the 1980s. What was once innovative is now stale and hollow.
I think I'll do my baseball book in a different style. Say, Tom Wolfe. How's this for the opening passage for the book I've tentatively titled "Take Two and Hit to Right: A Baseball Odyssey from Brooklyn to Lotus Land": "As I sat in the bright-orange, day-glow aluminum bleachers in aging Memorial Stadium on that torpid August night, the vivid, Chesapeake Bay aroma of boiling crab cakes wafted into my nostrils. I turned to my friend Steve and commented laconically, 'You know, Little Rip reminds me of a young shortstop who came up with Brooklyn in '52.' "