A couple of not-so-funny things happened on the way to finishing my Rocket City Trash Pandas book, “Pandamonium.”
First, there was the global coronavirus pandemic. You may have heard about it. It was on the news every now and again.
Thousands of words, hundreds of hours of research and interviews, all about the “how we got here” aspect of the new minor league baseball team in north Alabama. The book was written, edited, typeset and literally at the printer when Covid-19 arrived. The printing company shut down as everybody started to quarantine.
We put things on hold, waiting see about the start of the 2020 season, for which we had timed the release of the book — coinciding with opening day for the Trash Pandas. The start of the season was delayed, keeping us more in suspense, then ultimately canceled.
If you’ll recall, “pivot” was the popular word during the pandemic. So we made ourselves a pivot. I tweaked the book, noting the pandemic and including various anecdotes about how the franchise managed to survive even without baseball, and some of the creativity involved. The racoon, according to my research, is one of Mother Nature’s most inventive creatures. The Trash Pandas were an inventive business, even without baseball.
So,, back to the press in the spring of 2021 — only to have Ralph Nelson, the team’s managing general partner and a predominant character throughout the book, resign a few weeks before the season opened. Stop the presses. Again.
We reinvented “Pandamonium” another time, with the idea to closely chronicle that first season, and do the sort of player profiles and behind-the-scenes stuff that legacy media no longer cared to do. I was happy with the result, and still think it rather timeless.
Now, to go back to those thousands of words, hundreds of hours of research. Much of that fell victim to one gigantic, ruthless “Delete” key on the final manuscript. Initially, I was putting the return of baseball to north Alabama in a historical perspective, going back to the teams of the 1900s, to famous local players, to the hot-and-cold quarter-century of the Huntsville Stars. That perspective didn’t fit a narrative as current as Pandamonium version 3.0.
In the happily-ever-after bit of this tale, the folks at Arcadia Press in Charleston, S.C., were intrigued enough by the 25,000 or so words I had written about Huntsville’s baseball history, and the people involved in it. With the generosity of many, including a former employer, I collected dozens of photographs to accompany the text.
So, we now have “Baseball in Huntsville.” It’s available at local bookstores, or I’d be honored to sell you a copy from my supply and to personalize the book. Hey, Father’s Day is just around the corner. Great gift for baseball dad in your life.
Keep checking out this space. I’ll be posting a few excerpts from the book, to tell you what a bitter rivalry Huntsville used to have with Decatur to the Huntsville Springers of the 1930s to a Huntsville native who earned no small amount of fame by catching a baseball tossed from the top of the Washington Monument.
Baseball in Huntsville
Check out my new book, Be glad to personalize it. Just let me know to whom I should inscribe the book. Price includes shipping.