Major League Baseball has been crippled by yet another players’ strike, and the fans have had enough, tired of paying to see ballplayers with seven-figure egos but ten-cent work ethics.
When baseball’s commissioner floats the idea of enlisting the minor leaguers to keep revenues flowing, Lew Pearson, the aging player-manager of the Triple-A Indianapolis Outlaws, sees his chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Having never had more than a “cup of coffee” in the big league, Lew leaves his wife and two young kids behind to play in the bigs, even though he knows he and his teammates will just be the pawns of the owners. Baseball runs deep in his blood – his father’s own professional dreams were trampled on many years before – and despite the big asterisk that will accompany every game, it’s an opportunity that beckons him.
But no one, including Lew, the owners and the striking Major Leaguers, could predict how fans would embrace these farmhands, who take the field every day not for their big paychecks but purely for the love of the game. At first the crowds are small, but as the fan frenzy takes root in ballparks across the country, both sides of the strike confront a new normal, and an audacious plan takes shape in board rooms to determine once and for all whether the Major Leaguers or the minor leaguers will get the privilege of remaining in “the show.”
Gary Frisch is a long-time sports fan with a special place in his heart for hockey and baseball. A lifelong writer and former journalist, he has contributed many articles and columns to a variety of newspapers and magazines. He was inspired to write Strike Four as a result of multiple player strikes and lockouts that marred baseball in the 1980s and ‘90s, during which the media frequently speculated that owners might bring up minor league players to fill the rosters.
Frisch works in the public relations field, and has owned his own PR agency since 2007. In 2015, he was named to Linkedin’s inaugural list of “Top Voices of the Year” for his contributions to the business networking site’s blog. He lives in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, with his wife and two children, and frequently writes under the watchful eye of his cat and two dogs.
Writing can be lots of fun, but it can be extremely hard, and even aggravating. When you’re looking at a blank screen or blank page and you just don’t know what to write next, you want to rip your hair out. Staring at the computer seldom helps. For me, I’ll take the pressure off. I’ll play in the yard with my dog, or go for a three mile walk. I do my best thinking when I’m walking. If I think purely about what I want to write, however, it doesn’t suddenly come into my mind. I think about other things, occasionally letting my thoughts flit to my current project. Then, I find, ideas gradually seep in. As I flesh these out, full sentences start to emerge. In many cases, I can’t get back to my computer quickly enough. Sometimes, I’ll record them on my cell phone so I won’t forget. In any case, by the time I get back to writing, my fingers are usually on fire.
Strike Four A Baseball Novel
All the while the minor leagues, predictably, flourished. For want of baseball, fans from Major League cities began making excursions to the backwaters of baseball, places like Hamilton, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Pawtucket, Rhode Island; Des Moines, Iowa; and Oneonta, New York. Places like these were the sport’s proving grounds, rich in hopes and dreams but poor in creature comforts. As a result of the strike, frequently empty parking lots became densely populated forests of steel, single-lane access roads became pockmarked beneath unexpected traffic jams, and once-deserted bleachers creaked beneath shoulder-to-shoulder people. The farmhands from Triple-A all the way down to A-Ball finally received the attention they always felt they richly deserved. And for the first time in its history, the Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League sold out of hot dogs by the fourth inning.