The View from the Cheap SeatsBy Shae Connor
I had a little “awww” moment recently when I saw that Vladamir Guerrero had officially retired. A star outfielder who started his career with the Montreal Expos, Guerrero sticks in my mind in large part because he was once the big-name star for the Albany Polecats.
Yes, you read that right. Back in the early-to-mid 1990s, Albany, Georgia, had a minor league baseball team called the Polecats. For those who don't know, “polecat” is slang for “skunk,” and that's exactly what the team mascot was. I lived in Albany until late in the 1994 season, and I went back in 1995 as much as I could. I was even a member of the team's booster club. Because minor league baseball players make next to nothing (most have off-season jobs just so they can afford to keep playing), many minor league towns have booster clubs that do a lot more than just cheer the team on. Our club helped them furnish their apartments, bought them meals, made cakes for birthdays, and got all the payment we needed in smiles and hugs.
Vlad, though… he was a step above. He hit very, very long home runs, for one thing. Nearly every night, at least a few Marines from the local base would come out, and for every base he got (one for a single, two for a double, etc.), one of the guys would do pushups on the dugout roof while the other Marines (and fans!) counted off at the top of their (our) lungs.
There really is nothing like a minor league game. There are all sorts of promos and gimmicks and giveaways. You'll get appearances by The Famous Chicken and The Clown Prince of Baseball and Morgana the Kissing Bandit, and battling mascots and spin-the-bat and kids running the bases. You'll cheer on your closer to strike out the side not because you want to win (though you do) but because then you'll get a free Krystal after the game. Or a player will hit a home run through the hole in the outfield wall and someone will win a thousand bucks.
The ballparks are small, of course, so it's usually easy to get seats that are practically on the field. You're so close to the players that you can joke back and forth between plays (but be sure to watch out for foul balls). If you come to a lot of games, the players will get to know you, and then they'll do things like sneak up under where you have your foot resting on the wall, stick a piece of tape to it, and light it on fire. (Not that anything like that ever happened to me, of course…) Or the team trainer (he had a great tattoo of a panther on his thigh) will look to you to know the answer to the trivia question every night.
And then, after promising and promising that the team wasn't going anywhere, the team owners will move the whole thing to Maryland with no warning, leaving a small town with an empty baseball venue and thousands of broken hearts.
… sorry. I know I'm supposed to write happily ever afters. As former MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti said, baseball is designed to break your heart. The good part, though, is that it'll be back again in the spring, and you'll be back in those cheap seats, cheering on the new season's Vladimir Guerrero, falling in love with the game all over again.
To help get you through the dark days of the offseason, we're having a giveaway! We're offering two prizes. The grand prize is a print copy of Playing Ball signed by all four authors, a unisex BBQ apron featuring hot athletes from Originals by Lauren (https://www.etsy.com/shop/OriginalsbyLauren), and swag from all four authors. The runner-up will get an ebook copy of Playing Ball and swag from all four authors.
The giveaway will run from 12 AM Central on September 21, 2013, to 12 AM Central on October 11, 2013. To give an opportunity for the authors to get together to sign the book and gather swag, the winners will be picked and the prizes shipped after the end of GayRomLit 2013.
Rules: You must be a resident of Earth, 18 years or older, who lives in a place where the viewing of adult material is legal. By entering the giveaway, you are indicating your agreement to the rules. Winners must provide a physical mailing address to receive their prizes. If a winner does not respond to the prize notification within 48 hours, the prize will be re-awarded.
About Shae Connor
Shae writes primarily gay contemporary romance and is published with Dreamspinner Press, MLR Press, and Wilde City Press. Her most recent publications have been “Fringes,” a scifi ménage erotica short story released as part of Wilde City’s Charlie Harding Presents line, and “What to Expect When
Your Boyfriend Is Expecting,” a scifi short story as part of the tongue-in-cheek
Butt Pirates in Space anthology.
Shae is active on Twitter @shaeconnor and posts snippets, updates, and thoughts
on writing and editing at her web site, www.shaeconnorwrites.com. You can
contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Playing BallShae Connor, Kate McMurray, Kerry Freeman, and Marguerite Labbe
Cover by Aaron Anderson
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Baseball—America's favorite pastime—provides a field wide open for romance. A Home Field Advantage may not help when Toby must choose between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it. In 1927, Skip hides his sexuality to protect his career until he meets One Man to Remember. Ruben and Alan fell victim to a Wild Pitch, leaving them struggling with heartache and guilt, and now they've met again. And on One Last Road Trip, Jake retires and leaves baseball behind, hoping to reconnect with Mikko and get a second chance at love.
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