One of my earliest memories is of going to Chicago's Comiskey Park (now U.S. Cellular Field officially, but always Comiskey in my mind) with my dad when I was about three. I was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago — if any of you are from Chicago you know how weird it was for a Northsider to be going to see the Sox for his first baseball game — and in Chicago, especially in the summer, baseball is life. Anyway, the details of the game are obviously very fuzzy, but something about it must have made an impression because I've been a baseball fan ever since. For me, nothing beats heading to the ballpark with some friends on a warm Sunday and watching your team pull out a close one against a division rival. And the best part of that whole experience is the moment when you step out from the concourse and see the baseball diamond open up below you. "Majestic" is the only word for it.
Which is all a long-winded way of introducing Mike Lupica. I'm guessing he feels the exact same way about baseball, and that's why I like him so much. Here's a guy who really gets the magic of the sport. Check out the cover of his most recent book, The Big Field:
That captures what I mean about the sight of the field perfectly. That's the kind of cover that speaks in a language that every baseball fan understands as if it were second nature. There can be no doubt that Mr. Lupica is a baseball fanatic, and it shows in his life's work: he's been a host for a sports talk show on the radio, a host for a sports talk show on TV, a columnist for all sorts of great publications (including Esquire, ESPN, and the New York Daily News), and a little league coach. The saying goes: "Those that can't do, teach." I think in Mike's case, you could say: "Those that can't do, write."
In addition to all that great writing about sports for magazines and newspapers, he's a very successful and well-known kids' author. His last book, Heat, followed the travails of a young little league pitcher from the Bronx. It got great reviews and sold like hotcakes. He's written a bunch of books about sports over the years, and that versatility — to go from screaming at the top of his lungs in the New York Daily News to writing about the plight of a working-class New York kid who just loves baseball — is the sign of a great writer. That breadth of experience definitely shows in all of his writing, and it's one of the reasons he's such a popular and powerful voice. His books are absolutely worth picking up if you're into sports at all.
See you at the stadium, Splotters!
— Jack, STACKS Staffer