As baseball season gets underway across the country, Mancos author Mark Stevens is taking his first swing at a baseball-themed novel. You’re watching “The Local News Network” brought to you by the Lor Foundation and Big O Tires. I’m Connor Shreve. Writing about baseball is stepping out of the batter’s box for Stevens, who’s written five crime fiction novels as part of the Allison Coil Mystery series. Stevens quickly developed “The Fireballer’s” main character, a man haunted in some respects by his own talent.
And so I went home kind of thinking this would be a real departure in terms of what I wrote, but that night, that very same night, I thought, what if this pitcher, this fictional pitcher in Little League, if one of his pitches unfortunately hit and killed an opposing batter for his, another Little League team. And it was just that character moment where kind of the whole story just came together and I thought I’d better try to write the book.
Stevens dedicates the book to Irv Moskowitz, a former boss turned lifelong friend who inspired Stevens to step out of his comfort zone.
One day in summer of 2018, he casually said, “You should write a book about a pitcher who ruins the sport of baseball, who basically destroys the current paradigm of pitching and hitting.”
Stevens used that thought to frame the idea that shapes his story in “The Fireballer,” a pitcher who can throw 110 miles per hour, well over the current top speeds of around 105.
Usually that means the batter has 0.3 seconds to decide whether to swing, how to swing. 0.3 seconds, and it’s an insanely small amount of time right now, and if you put a pitcher in a story who’s throwing 110, you’re basically, you know, the equation is over. There’s no time left for a batter to swing.
Stevens grew up a baseball fan in Massachusetts, and his recollection of visiting Fenway Park for the first time is still one of his seminal memories. That’s part of why he welcomed the process of writing “The Fireballer,” and it’s likely why it’s the fastest book he’s ever written.
So, yeah, huge baseball fan. I thought I knew enough about it that I could write about it, but coming up with the idea for the book just gave me the excuse to do a ton of reading and watching YouTube videos and just sort of really immersing myself in the sport, yeah.
Steven says the book is about someone who lives the unique experience of being the best at something, but it’s deeper than that.
It’s a book about interior mental health. It’s about knowing who you are, what you’ve been through, and learning how to deal with what you endured as a young child and how to process that in life.
Ultimately, “The Fireballer” touches on the tragic and heroic elements of the human condition. And like any great sports story, it transcends sport. For more information about this and other stories, visit montezumalocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of “The Local News Network.” I’m Connor Shreve.