Today, I'm hosting my friend, Kerry Freeman, who's stopping by on the blog tour for Playing Ball, the male/male baseball themed anthology in which she has a yummy story. Welcome, Kerry!
Oh, and don't forget to enter the contest! You could win a copy of playing ball and all sorts of other author swag.
As a child, I was a huge tomboy, and I loved watching baseball. It was the 70s, and my team was the Phillies. Don’t ask me why a girl in Alabama was a Philadelphia fan; I don’t even remember. But I remember watching the games on TV and cheering for Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose.
Sometime around middle school, I stopped being a sports fan. Always a huge music fan, it became my obsession. Baseball was just one of those “kid things” I wasn’t interested in anymore.
Fast forward to 1998. The home run race was on, and, like everyone else, I was sucked into it like most of America. But by then my appreciation was twofold. My love of the game was renewed, and I also was a little more...um...appreciative of the players.
As a female baseball fan, you’re reluctant to admit that you are a fan of a particular player because you think they’re cute or attractive or sexy. Especially to your significant other. I’m pretty sure my husband will never let me forget overhearing a conversation between my cousin and me. So we were discussing how much we like sitting behind the on deck circle at the minor league games and looking at all the cute butts in tight baseball pants. So what? That doesn’t mean I don’t like the game.
The Atlanta Braves are not my favorite team because I think they have the most attractive players. Did I call in sick to work one day in 1999 (pre-hubby days) because the Braves player I was crushing on was doing an appearance? Sure. Did I get a picture taken with said player and completely forget how to talk, looking like a total dork? Maybe. Go to a three-game stand by myself in 2000 (still pre-hubby days) because the dumbass Braves traded the player in the offseason and his team was back in town to play his former team?
Okay, fine, I crush on the players sometimes. (BTW, that player is retired, so hubby can rest easily.) But I do LOVE the game. One of my favorite sounds in the world is that crack when the ball hits the bat’s sweet spot and you just know it’s going into the stands. I love the parks (especially Turner Field). I love the geometry of the field, and the logic of the rules.
And if I ship some of the players? Yeah, I keep that to myself ;)
All Romance: Ebook
“The one constant through all the years... has been baseball.” — Field of Dreams
Baseball, America’s Pastime, carries with it a mythology like no other spo
rt, entwined with the ups and downs of the nation. In Playing Ball, authors Shae Connor, Kerry Freeman, Marguerite Labbe, and Kate McMurray explore the love for baseball and among the men who play it, from the 1920s through modern times. These four stories tell the tales of baseball men who find love off the field, whether with the heir to a baseball empire, a sports reporter, a fan, or even each other after their playing careers come to an end.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE BY SHAE CONNOR
College student Toby MacMillan, grandson of Atlanta Braves owner Ray MacMillan, works with the team’s locker room crew during the baseball season. It’s there that he meets Caleb Browning, who’s getting his first shot at the big leagues, and Toby, who’s been trying to keep his sexuality under wraps, finds himself smitten. An innocent dinner soon turns into a not-so-innocent night together in Caleb’s bed, but Toby quickly calls things off, afraid of the ramifications of their tryst.
Unable to avoid each other because of their jobs, the two men develop a tentative friendship, but it soon becomes more. After Caleb takes a fastball to the head during a game, Toby’s presence at his hospital bedside catches the attention of more than just the medical staff. Their budding romance hits the news, and Toby’s grandfather threatens to cut Toby out of team ownership unless he denies it. Facing a choice between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it, Toby has to decide if he’s ready to make a stand.
WILD PITCH BY MARGUERITE LABBE
For as long as Ruben Martell has known him, he's been in love with his best friend Alan Hartner. They played together, traveled together and publicly dueled on opposite teams. Now years later they're both retired from the Major Leagues, are running a business together and coaching rival Little League teams. And in all those years, Ruben hasn't given up hope that Alan might return his feelings one day, but now he's starting to believe that Alan will never chose to move beyond the memory of his late wife.
Alan quit the game at the height of his career to take care of his sons and the one constant he's been able to rely on is Ruben. In all that time he has tried to forget about the night everything changed, only being with Ruben on a day-to-day basis is weakening his resolve. They'd stepped over the line before and it had hurt their friendship and left Alan with a guilt he didn't know how to handle. Alan doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize that friendship now even if it mean denying the feelings he's kept locked away for so long.
ONE MAN TO REMEMBER BY KATE MCMURRAY
In the summer of 1927, all anyone in New York can talk about is Babe Ruth and the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row, the unstoppable batting lineup that no other team can beat. Skip Littlefield, an infielder for the less flashy New York Giants, is happy to let the Babe take the spotlight, even as he starts hitting as well as Ruth himself. Sports journalist Walter Selby has gained a reputation for being something of a dandy. He’s a force to be reckoned with, too, as one of the most dynamic voices in the daily papers. And now he can’t help but notice the talented first baseman helping the Giants race for the pennant. Then he meets the man and is left breathless—Skip is talented, soft-spoken, and also incredibly handsome. And Walt quickly comes to understand why Skip wants to stay out of the spotlight.
Against the backdrop of the lights of Times Square, the excitement of the era, and some of the most incredible baseball anyone has ever played, Skip starts to fall for Walt. But no one can know. Skip’s only hope is that the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from the quite romance blooming between Skip and Walt, or else Skip’s whole career and everything he loves is at stake.
ONE LAST ROAD TRIP BY KERRY FREEMAN
After the last game of his major league career, Jake Wilson is hitting the road, and he's making a few stops along the way. He has an ex-wife with a new life in New Mexico, a son following in his footsteps in Oklahoma, a daughter with an announcement in Tennessee, and the gamble of a lifetime in Georgia. In 2,500 miles, his life will completely change, and he can only hope that his visit to his first love will cause everything to change for the better.
EXCERPT FROM ONE LAST ROAD TRIP
It had been a lonely few months in Atlanta. Jake had gone from being a high school baseball star to just another hick jock. It didn’t matter that his test scores and grades would have gotten him into Georgia Tech regardless of the baseball scholarship. The smart kids looked down their noses at him. And the other jocks? Until Jake played a game and played it well, he was only a wannabe freshman.
The first day of preseason training, it all started to turn around for him. He and the other freshman bonded over their mutual desire to prove they were worthy to wear the gold and white. They worked hard and cheered each other on. They quickly became favorites of the handful of regular practice spectators, who all seemed to have a soft spot for the awkward newcomers.
One spectator stood out. Jake tried not to stare, but he couldn’t stop his surreptitious glances at the man. Jake had known since forever that he could be turned on by men as well as women, but this was different. The man’s square jaw and tight swimmer’s body made Jake have evil, evil thoughts, thoughts of things way beyond the frenzied hand and blow jobs he’d experienced with other equally frightened high school boys.
Jake also had more tender thoughts, which he found slightly frightening. Every time the man brushed his hair from his eyes, Jake wondered if the hair was soft, how it would feel if he ran his fingers through it. He snuck enough glances to determine that the man’s almond-shaped eyes were a beautiful hazel, and, more often than not, those eyes were trained on Jake. Worst of all, Jake wanted to pull the man’s full bottom lip between his and find out how the man tasted. He had never kissed a man, but God, he wanted to kiss this one.
After a few weeks of torture, Jake decided he’d had enough. He might make a fool of himself. He might even get his ass kicked. But he was going to talk to the man who’d been starring in his dreams.
When practice was over, Jake hung back on the field, waiting for the other players to head toward the locker room and hopefully out of earshot. He’d noticed days before that the man would not leave right away; he’d linger, reading a book or relaxing on the bleachers. It was almost as if he were waiting for someone. Then again, Jake thought, that could be his own wishful thinking.
As he walked, Jake brushed off his pants and straightened his cap. When the man looked up from his book to see Jake heading his way, his smile was unmistakable. Jake was sure he’d never seen a clearer invitation to come closer, and he struggled to keep his feet from speeding up. He needed to play this cool, keep his intentions a secret until he was sure they were welcome.
“Hey.” Jake shoved his glove under his arm. “What you reading?”
The man waved the small paperback. “Oh, this? To Kill A Mockingbird. I have been told it is a classic American novel. I like it so far.”
Oh holy fuck, Jake thought. He has an accent on top of everything else. The man’s voice was cool and smooth, like a window in an air-conditioned room. It sent frissons cascading over Jake’s sweat-damp skin. Each word was clearly enunciated, crisp.
Jake sat down, leaving a respectable distance between them. “It is. I read it in high school, and it’s pretty good.”
The man folded the corner of a page and closed the book. “We read a few American novels in school in Finland, but not this one. I think I may recommend it to my teacher back home.”
“Finland? How did you end up here?”
“I wanted more sunshine and warmth. My family visited friends in Savannah once, and I fell in love with Georgia.”
“Well, you definitely came to the right place for sunshine.” Jake was positive if he heard much more of the man’s accent, he would melt on the spot. “I’m Jake Wilson,” he said, holding out his hand.
The man stared at Jake’s hand before finally shaking it. “I know,” he said. “I read about you in the student paper. My name is Mikko Niemi.”
AND THAT'S NOT ALL!
To celebrate the release of PLAYING BALL and our blog tour, Shae, Kate, Marguerite, and I have put together a pretty awesome giveaway.
Grand prize: A print copy of PLAYING BALL signed by all four authors, a unisex BBQ apron featuring hot athletes from Originals by Lauren, and swag from all four authors.
Runner-up prize: An ebook copy of PLAYING BALL and swag from all four authors.
The giveaway will run from 12AM Central on September 21, 2013 to 12AM 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.
But there are some 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.