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Spring Training Reading #2

Bill Meissner reads from Spirits in the Grass

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In Spirits in the Grass we meet Luke Tanner, a thirty-something baseball player helping to build a new baseball field in his beloved hometown of Clearwater, Wisconsin. Luke looks forward to trying out for the local amateur team as soon as possible. His chance discovery of a small bone fragment on the field sets in motion a series of events and discoveries that will involve his neighbors, local politicians, and the nearby Native American reservation. Luke’s life, most of all, will be transformed. His growing obsession with the ball field and what’s beneath it threatens his still fragile relationship with his partner, Louise, and challenges Luke’s assumptions about everyone, especially himself. In this beautiful and haunting novel, baseball serves as a metaphor for life itself, with its losses and defeats, its glories and triumphs.

Bill Meissner has won numerous awards for his writing, including PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards. He is the author of two previous books of fiction, Hitting into the Wind and The Road to Cosmos (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006) and four books of poetry, including American Compass (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004). He is Director of Creative Writing at St. Cloud State University. He grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin, and lives with his wife Chris in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he plays baseball occasionally with a group called The Catch and Release Baseball Club.

Peter Schilling Jr. reads from The End of Baseball

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In Peter Schilling's wonderful novel, the extraordinary baseball season of 1944 comes vividly to life. Bill Veeck, the maverick promoter, returned from Guadalcanal with a leg missing and $500 to his name, has hustled his way into buying the Philadelphia Athletics. Hungry for a pennant, young Veeck jettisons the team's white players and secretly recruits the legendary stars of the Negro Leagues, fielding a club that will go down in baseball annals as one of the greatest ever to play the game. Here are the behind-the-scenes adventures that bring this dream to reality, and a cast of characters only history's pen could create. The End of Baseball is the most rollicking, free-spirited baseball story in years, the unvarnished truth of that incredible season and the men who lived it.

Peter Schilling has been a sportswriter, film critic, and freelance writer for over seven years, in addition to writing novels, graphic novels, plays and screenplays. He has covered the Minnesota Twins for the Minneapolis City Pages in 2007, was the film critic for The Rake Magazine (Minneapolis), and now covers film for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Schilling has interviewed such diverse filmmakers as Marjane Satrapi, Richard Linklater, and Amir Bar-Lev; covered baseball, basketball, football, and hockey; and written about subjects as diverse as abstract sculpture, the mayor of the world’s smallest town, and the quietest spot on earth. He also spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia, and declined a request to witness a beheading.

John Rosengren reads from The Fight of Their Lives

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One Sunday afternoon in August 1965, on a day when baseball’s most storied rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, vied for the pennant, the national pastime reflected the tensions in society and nearly sullied two men forever. Juan Marichal, a Dominican anxious about his family’s safety during the civil war back home, and John Roseboro, a black man living in South Central L.A. shaken by the Watts riots a week earlier, attacked one another in a moment immortalized by an iconic photo: Marichal’s bat poised to strike Roseboro’s head.

The violent moment–uncharacteristic of either man–linked the two forever and haunted both. Much like John Feinstein’s The Punch, The Fight of Their Lives examines the incident in its context and aftermath, only in this story the two men eventually reconcile and become friends, making theirs an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and redemption. The book also explores American culture and the racial prejudices against blacks and Latinos both men faced and surmounted. As two of the premiere ballplayers of their generation, they realized they had more to unite them than keep them apart.

John Rosengren is the award-winning author of eight books, including Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes and Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win. His articles have appeared in Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated and Utne Reader, among other publications. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, he lives in Minneapolis.

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