The book: “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative”
The author: Bill Lewers
The vital stats: Self published by Xlibris, 395 pages, $19.99
The pitch: It started, organically enough, with an email:
“Please allow me to introduce myself – my name is Bill Lewers and I recently published a book …
Bill is a Red Sox fan, who never lived in Boston, mostly in New York, now lives in the D.C. area and goes to a lot of Orioles games …
“My motivation for writing the book … was personal satisfaction as well as to provide a legacy for my two sons. It was not written to be a commercial venture. … (but) there did not seem to be many books out there written by ‘ordinary fans’. … So far most of my feedback has come from family and friends which while generally positive, is hardly impartial.”
He wanted a fresh set of eyes on his book. I had the time and the desire … and this book review thing going on …
So, let me tell you now about my new best friend, Bill Lewers, who I feel I know quite intimately — based on baseball.
Without giving up too much of his story, he’s got a lucky wife, and two pretty neat kids.
He saw Satchel Paige pitch for the St. Louis Browns against the New York Yankees in the first time he set foot in Yankee Stadium. He saw Carl Erskine throw a no-hitter at Ebbets Field in 1956, and kept score on a 15-cent scorecard — which he still has.
He was at a game in Camden Yards in 1994 where the Orioles and Angels hit 11 home runs — a nine-inning record. Two years earlier — same place — he saw the Orioles turn a triple play agains the Angels (it was hit by Gary Gaetti). Nine years after that, he saw another triple play — at his son’s game, which started with him catching a batted ball for the first time in a Little League game.
About writing your own book: Lewers said he picked Xlibris over other self-publishers like authorhouse, iuniverse, booklocker or publish america because he knew it helped his aunt with a book a couple of years ago.
“On the whole I am satisfied with the job they did (although I was less than pleased with the way the interior photographs came out – this is one of the weaknesses of POD),” Levers said in an email.
You can get a book done for as inexpensive as $400, but he went with the $1,500 “premium package” that adds for copyediting, author’s alteration during the production process and an index. He did it all on a Microsoft Word document.
“POD is very controverial as you probably know and has many supporters who say it’s wonderful and many detractors who say otherwise. If I had been 20 years younger and interested in building a career in writing, then I would not have done POD, as POD has very little respect in the publishing world for a variety of reasons (some of them quite legitimate). But for someone like myself, writing the only book I’m ever going to write, it met my needs very well.”
How the book idea started:
“The project started when my wife Mary encouraged me to write down my baseball memories about 10 years ago which I did off and on for the next 7 or 8 years. Then around 2 years ago I started to take it seriously and over a period of about a year most of the essays were written. I’m retired so I would usually write for a couple of hours a day after my wife left for work and my sons for school. I only worked on the book on school days – otherwise my duties as a househusband took precedence.”
And how it ended:
“I found the whole experience to be very rewarding on a number of levels. One of the unexpected benefits was that as part of my pacage I received 50 postcards advertising the book. At first I didn’t think much of them but then I started looking up addresses of old friends on the internet and sent the postcards to them. As a result I have renewed contact with people I have not seen for 15, 20, in one case even 40 years. A real unexpected blessing.”
How it goes down in the scorebook: Here’s the best way to end this book review series, with the last paragraph of Bill’s book about a recent trip to Camden Yards: “I look around and take it all in. I have been doing this sort of thing in one way or another for six decades, and it still seems fresh as it did on that first day at the Polo Grounds so many years ago. I’ll keep right on doing it as long as the good Lord gives me strength and my good wife gives me permission. If you’re ever at Camden Yards on a Sunday afternoon and want to experience life in the cheap seats, come on up and say, ‘Hi.’”