Painting the Corners – Interview with Author Bob Weintraub
Saturday April 28, 2012
MLB reports: A new day bring a new baseball book to our world. Bob Weintraub, author has recently published his book “Painting the Corners: A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories.” Not the typical biography or instructional book – Painting the Corners is a breath of fresh air. A big part of loving baseball is sharing the stories and experiences that are a part of the game for us. As fans. Writers. Viewers. Each of us has our baseball “stories” to tell, those first-hand experiences that stuck with us during key games/moments. Now imagine these tales told by the various personnel within the game. Here is a sneak peek into the world of Painting the Corners:
Bob Weintraub’s marvelous collection of baseball stories goes directly to the core of what the game does for us when we watch it being played on the field, and shows how its heroes and villains can reach into a person’s life and remain a part of us for the rest of our days. The stories are told from various perspectives, including those of the player, manager, general manager, coach, scout, owner, writer, broadcaster and fan. Each strives for its own sense of authenticity, seeks to introduce characters we’d be comfortable spending time with, and in many cases ends with an unexpected twist.
W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe (Field of Dreams), says that “Weintraub has executed a triple play: savvy baseball writing, unforgettable characters and a home run ending for each tale.”
In “Knuckleball,” a manager is beside himself when he can’t let his star knuckleball pitcher start the seventh game of the World Series because the only catcher he’s ever had in the big leagues suddenly goes down with an injury. The team from Alcatraz, in “The Way They Play Is Criminal,” has a bag full of dirty tricks waiting to spring on its San Quentin rivals, and it uses them all. A father on a college tour with his daughter happens upon the very same autographed baseball he saw a friend catch in Fenway Park’s bleachers thirty years earlier, and learns, in “The Autograph,” how a twist of fate has brought the friend together with the player who hit it. A veteran outfielder goes into the last game of his career batting .299 with 299 home runs and, in “Just One to Go,” gets his only chance to hit with two outs in the ninth. And in “The Short End of Immortality,” we see that it’s essential for a baseball writer to be totally objective when voting on a player for the Hall of Fame, even if that player has always been married to your mother.
To learn about Painting the Corners, we went directly to the source. Featured today on MLB reports is author Bob Weintraub, presenting his baseball book – “Painting the Corners”:
Welcome to MLB reports Bob. Please tell our readers about your work, “Painting the Corners: A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories.” How did you come up with the stories?
There are eleven stories in Volume 1. The action that takes place in every story is totally fictional, but two of the stories were inspired by certain events. “All the Signs Spelled Victory” is dedicated to a boyhood friend who managed the Little League team on which my son played. And “Eighty-Three and Bunting,” a tribute to Johnny Pesky of the Red Sox, was inspired by the Commissioner’s rule a few years ago that forced Pesky to give up his seat in the dugout at the start of every game. At that point in time, Pesky had spent about 60 of his 70 years in baseball with the Red Sox in about every conceivable capacity, was still hitting fungoes to the outfielders, and was almost 88-years-old. When the games were being played, the dugout was his castle. With the number of coaches allowed in the dugout limited to six, Pesky was excluded. The rule infuriated me.
How did you get interested in writing about baseball? Have you always been a baseball fan?
I wrote the first of my baseball stories in 1995, just for fun. I had given up practicing labor relations and was working on a novel. The idea for the story hit me and I detoured away from the novel to write it. It was accepted by Spitball right away, so I decided I’d keep at it. I’ve been a baseball fan since I was eleven years old.
What inspired you to write the collection?
It wasn’t a collection until it became a collection, story by story, over the years. In the past six months I’ve completed two other stories that will be included in Volume 2 of the Collection. As the number of stories increased, I was inspired to keep at it.
Do you have a favorite story in the collection?
That’s almost like asking a parent to name his favorite child. But I will say that two of the stories in Volume 1, “Blowing Bubbles” and “The Kansas City Kid,” always bring tears to my eyes at the end. And I love them for that.
Your stories are told from various perspectives, including those of the player, the general manager, the coach, the broadcaster, and the fan, among others. Did you have a favorite perspective? Was there one that was harder than another?
No, I didn’t have a favorite perspective. In fact, I enjoyed putting myself inside the head of each of them and learning a lot about what each contributed to the game. There wasn’t one that was harder than the other, yet each was a challenge.
Do you have any other favorite baseball authors or books? What book are you reading now?
I grew up reading everything I could find that was written by John R. Tunis. As an adult, my favorite fiction reads have been the books by W.P. Kinsella. I’m about to start reading “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Learning that a good story, when finished, is waiting to be edited and edited and edited until it becomes a very good story.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Until I see how my own work is received, it would be presumptuous of me to give advice. I hope my readers like every one of these stories and will take a few minutes to let me know which they favor the most.
***A special thank you to Bob Weintraub for his time as part of today’s featured interview. To learn more about Bob and Painting the Corners, please check Bob Weintraub’s Blog: http://bobweintraub.iguanabooks.com and be sure to add this one to your baseball book collection!***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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