Author Feels Pressure Of Fast-Approaching Baseball Book Deadline

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Author Dan Schlossberg signs his books during Induction Weekend in Cooperstown.Dan Schlossberg collection

By Dan Schlossberg

It’s Crunch Time!

If it weren’t true, it would actually be funny.

As author, co-author, or ghostwriter of 39 previous baseball books, including the 480-page The New Baseball Bible, I should understand how to deal with a deadline. But life finds a way of interfering, no matter how well a writer budgets his time.

In this case, the deadline is June 15 for a book called Baseball Zeroes — an illustrated listing of thousands of things that never happened, never could happen, or actually did happen, such as players who wore 0 or Double-0 as their uniform numbers or the .000 team batting average of the Chicago White Sox before and after Opening Day 1940.

Putting it together involved finding an illustrator, a baseball-savvy colleague to pen the foreword, and enough one-line anecdotes to make this volume stand out on the 2023 baseball bookshelf.

Every day, something happens that would fit into the book. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina suddenly turn into relief pitchers, Hunter Greene & Co. throw a no-hitter that isn’t, or Joc Pederson bursts out of the May doldrums with a three-homer game.

Also every day, something unexpected happens off the field that precludes early completion.

Two members of my immediate family announced June surgeries. My dog needs a vet appointment sooner than the one that had been planned for September. And I myself had two long-scheduled doctors’ appointments in May.

The central air-conditioning system died, causing a four-man crew to spend a full day inside and outside the house setting up a new one that actually works (thankfully three days before a weekend when mid-May temps in North Jersey approached triple digits).

Even worse, my dependable desktop computer — less than four years old — went belly-up, resulting in a pair of 30-minute round-trips to the office of my computer guru, who usually fixes computer issues remotely. Naturally, even after the desktop returned, there were glitches that did require his wireless expertise.

Fortunately, I was able to use my Lenovo netbook, which I also bring with me to baseball press boxes and on trips of any duration, and which I find fast and dependable. Plus that computer guru is always a phone call away.

Regular responsibilities — including writing and editing weekend editions of Here’s The Pitch, crafting at least five baseball columns per month for forbes.com, and hosting morning and evening travel shows on Thursdays — were never shoved to the back burner. And when a travel magazine editor asked me to profile Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, my two favorite ballparks, I couldn’t say no.

And there were those two 1200-word features for the Hall of Fame Induction Preview of USA TODAY Sports Weekly. Thanks, Jim Kaat, for being a terrific first interview.

The month of May also included my birthday (same day as Willie Mays), Mother’s Day, a book-signing in my old card store, a Sunday morning Men’s Club presentation by Jay Horwitz, an annual hour-long visit by a home health aid, senior fitness classes, and my first pickleball lessons (a guy has to stay in shape somehow).

I did manage to do some work on the book during a four-day trip to Puerto Rico for an annual conference I have never missed — held by the North American Travel Journalists Association, an organization I co-founded in 1991.

Since variety is the spice of life, I am proud to be the only U.S. journalist who covers baseball and travel exclusively. I even wrote a column years ago for Yankees Magazine called “On The Road,” spotlighting places to see in cities where the team was going.

As an AP alumnus, I also enjoyed heavy workloads and short deadlines. Now it’s time to rely on that experience again. Plus it’s time to get back to work!

Baseball Zeroes, featuring a foreword by Doug Lyons and artwork by Ronnie Joyner, is due from Skyhorse next spring. Not to worry: I’ll get it done before deadline.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg has written or co-authored 40 baseball books, including The New Baseball Bible. He’ll speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 6 and sign on Main Street, Cooperstown on Saturday, July 23. E.mail him at ballauthor@gmail.com.

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