June 3, 2011
The Next New Thing

For years, I’ve been walking around with voices in my head. 

It’s not like that. They seldom tell me to do things, but for me, writing is almost like being narrated to or watching a movie and describing it. The worst part is having the idea, but not all of it. For six months before I started my novel (in progress!), I was listening to the main character define himself. I knew what he looked like, what he did, what shoes he was wearing, and where he was going … I just have to write about how he gets there, which isn’t always what I expect and bogs down from time to time.

One of the other ideas I’ve had, since finishing Saving The Pitcher, didn’t have a voice and that one really ached. The idea is simple - tell the story of Tommy John surgery and how it truly changed the game of baseball. It would go from Frank Jobe looking down and making up the procedure to all the players today who have that little scar.

Of course, that’s not the sexiest idea. I kept coming back to the idea that it had to be stories around a main “spine”, a thread that we would keep coming back to, one that we’d care about, one that had a beginning, middle and end. I knew that to do it, I would have to find the right person, the right doctor, and the right situation. 

That finally happened. A pitcher friend of mine texted me asking for some help getting a teammate to see one of the top docs. Since it was an east coast thing, my thoughts were immediately Dr. Andrews and Dr. Kremchek. After some back and forth, I talked to the pitcher and we decided that we’d pursue the idea of his story being the spine of this book. 

You might remember Chris Hayes. Articles have been written about the pitcher they call “Disco” for years as he made his way through the Royals organization with a “fastball that’s stuck in the seventies.” Joe Posnanski wrote an amazing, amazing article about him while Rany Jazayerli did a series of interviews with him that showed everyone - including me - just how engaging he was. His blog was priceless insight into the mindset of a minor leaguer.

I found a pitcher who had everything except an intact ulnar collateral ligament. 

We met - Chris, his wife Tracy and I - yesterday in Cincinnati. We sat in Dr. Kremchek’s “green room” and with them sitting under Sandy Koufax’s jersey, talking about what’s next and how this book idea might work. I sat in as they met with Dr. Kremchek for the initial consult. I was in the room for the saline injection for the MRI, where Tracy cringed more than Chris did as the needle went in. I was sitting next to the radiologist as he showed Chris and Dr. Kremchek the complete tear. 

Now the fun starts. Now I get to see Chris come back, as well as the intriguing stories that surround him and this book. It’s almost going to write itself, leaving me only the challenge of living up to the potential of this story. Chris, Tracy and I will be blogging throughout the process and we want you to be a big part of this, so we hope you’ll follow along. 

We’re “Bringing Back Disco: The Story of How a Surgery Saved Chris Hayes … and Baseball”. 

  1. willcarroll posted this