For the Love of the Game

I live in Northwest Missouri and, as such, frenetically watch the Kansas City Royals at any and all opportunities. It’s a little easier thing to claim than it was ten years ago. You’re probably thinking “Oh how easy it must be to love the Royals these days!”

Okay. Yeah. It’s really easy. But it hasn’t always been that way. I still remember dark and terrible things. Jimmy Gobble giving up ten runs in one inning. Our lone all star in 2006 being a pitcher who had an ERA over 5.00. Losing so, so many games. Having people laugh at you and tell you to defect to the Cardin-NO! I’M NOT GOING TO!

Anyways, the Royals just won the World Series and I’m still recovering from the aftereffects. I mean, I would have been in shock just based on the fact that I got to go to Game 1. Then it ended up being an instant extra-innings classic that I will never forget. Never.

Ethan and Friend

I love baseball. I’ve loved it since I was in high school and really started following the Royals. My school didn’t have a baseball team and I’d stopped playing in third grade, but that didn’t matter. I fell utterly and hopelessly in love. Suddenly watching my team actually compete after so many years of punchline-worthy play causes my stomach and emotions to dance around throughout the season much in the same way that happens every time I watch one of the trailers for the new Star Wars movie.

The connection between sports and storytelling is ageless and the most successful writers can look at a player, a game, a sport and seamlessly weave stories as affecting as those of any other genre. The best can even make game recaps poetic.

Two of my favorite online sports storytellers are Rany Jazayerli (Rany on the Royals) and Joe Posnanski (NBC SportsWorld). I suppose it’s somewhat telling that they both love and write about the Royals, but they also tackle other matters and, regardless of the team they love, they write about sports in ways that move me. Joe posted an amazing article about the Royals yesterday. You should totally read it.

Baseball novels had a big role in my reading development and I think it’s interesting to hear about the different titles that affect various readers throughout their childhood. In the glow of a championship I never thought would happen, I’m going to list a few of my favorite sports books.

Baseball Flyhawk

Baseball Flyhawk by Matt Christopher – I probably read this over 30 times growing up. I devoured any Matt Christopher books but something about this one made me read it over and over. It might have had something to do with the fact that the book’s protagonist, Chico, played for a team called the Royals. But it also had something to do with me wanting Chico’s teammates to like him.

 

 

Chip Hilton

Chip Hilton Series by Clair Bee – This is a series that may be a little dated, but I read so many of these books growing up. It kind of became a joke how great Chip was at every sport. He played so many different positions and was never bad. But despite that, he and his supporting cast were interesting and I really enjoyed the books. I still read them now and again. Even as something of an adult.

 

 

The Brothers K

The Brothers K by David James Duncan – I’m beginning to make this an annual summer read. It’s one of my favorite books. Baseball weaves its way in and out of a story of a broken family trying trying to understand and love one another.

 

 

 

Give me some recommendations if you’ve got any you think I should know about. I’ll check them out as soon as I get back from the World Series parade!

— Ethan Evans, currently recovering from late nights watching the World Series