After reading several biographies of Major League Baseball greats, Kelly G. Park realized there was nothing significant to be found about the players’ childhood baseball days. So, Park, a Benton author and baseball enthusiast, set out to change that.
After some smart networking and 10 years of dogged persistence, Park amassed enough information from player interviews to fill two volumes entitled Just Like Me: When the Pros Played on the Sandlot, (Sunbury Press, $16.95 volume 1; $19.95 volume 2). Written verbatim in the players’ words, stories include details such as game memories, nicknames, recruitment and family life.
Initially expecting to hear all happy memories, Park was surprised to hear of struggles about missed opportunities due to segregation, lack of equipment or even having to dive into the Ohio River to retrieve a home run ball—the only baseball a group of boys had. For a complete picture, Park includes stories from Negro League players as well as from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.