I never knew I had an arm until this guy calls out, “Hey you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?” I am only nine, but Mom says, “Come on, let’s play.” This carnival guy with no teeth and a fuming cigarette hands me five blue rubber balls and says if I throw three in the hole, we win a prize.
He’s grinning, because he’s taken Mom’s five bucks and figures a sucker is born every minute. This really gets me, because we didn’t have any money after Fernando took off, and he only comes back to beat up Mom and steal our money. So I really want to get Mom back something, you know, for her five bucks. I take the first rubber ball and throw it over my head and wham! The carnival guy looks at me and laughs. “Whoa! A ringer. Let’s see you do it again, sonny.” It’s like something happens when I throw a ball. My arm windmills over the top then snaps down like a rubber band. It’s like I’m following my arm. So I throw the second ball and he mutters, “Alright, let’s see you get the next ball in.” I mean we’re Mexicans, and I think this guy figures he’ll put one over on us. I throw the next two balls and they go wild. I hit the top of the wood circle with one and the other one flies completely over the game. The carnival guy is grinning again because he knows I have only one more ball. I wind up like I had seen pitchers on television and wham, right in the hole again. He hands Mom a big white polar bear and takes the cigarette from his mouth. “That looked like a sixty-mile-an-hour pitch to me,” he says. “I don’t know,” I reply, shrugging. He nods and picks up the rubber balls. “You should pitch, buddy,” he says with one eye closed. “You have a hell of an arm.”
Author William Hazelgrove is the best selling author of five novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways and Rocket Man and The Pitcher His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly, Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. His latest novel Rocket Man due out May 1, 2013 was chosen Book of the Year by Books and Authors.net. He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. A forthcoming novel, The Pitcher will be out Sept 1, 2013. He lives in Chicago.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
I met an old World Series pitcher in Florida who lived across the street from my mother in law. My son and I were playing ball in the street and this guy walks out of his garage and says just keep pitching. So we did. And then after we were done he gave my son pointers and then went back in his garage. That was how The Pitcher came about.
2. What characters do you connect with most?
I probably connect with Ricky. He is really me. A guy with a big dream but no real way to achieve it.
3. What's your favorite book-turned movie?
The Great Gatsby the new one.
4. If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
Maybe The Pitcher. He has had an amazing life that most people will never experience. He has been to the mountaintop and now has to decide what to do with his life.
5. Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?
I have another book comign out called OneUP about two guys who fight over a girl one summer at the beach. Only one survives. A sort of Lord of the Flies for our time.
6. What do you do in your spare time?
I bike and read and hang with the family and see friends. That takes up just about all my time. and then i write.
7. Who's your inspiration?
Inspiration. F. Scott Fitzgerald. David Foster Wallace. James Joyce. Hemingway. Keroauc. Bukowski
8. If you were stranded on a desert island which character do you want by your side?
I would want Rickys mother by my side on a desert island. She never gives up.
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