Take me out to the ball game
Author to share baseball wisdom, anecdotes
OMER — Author Tom Stanton, who will hold a free to attend presentation at Ye Olde Courthouse in Omer on June 2, has interviewed several people that have dominated the spotlight – Elton John, Hillary Clinton, Mike Wallace – but other interviewees, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and Tigers legend Al Kaline, are much closer to his heart.
“I was one of those baseball-obsessed boys growing up in the suburbs of Detroit,” Stanton, who has had four books published based on America’s past time, said. “When I think of baseball, it’s not just the game taking place or my heroes, but more than that.
“It’s the way baseball runs through multiple generations of families.”
He says his presentation at the courthouse will have a similar feeling as his books – informal, anecdotal and dealing with the way baseball touched him and his family, especially the way it helped him bond with his father.
Stanton says his dad was a huge fan of baseball and exposed him to the players he grew up idolizing, but Stanton had some heroes of his own.
“If you grew up in Detroit in the mid-50’s and the early 70’s, than certainly Al Kaline was one (hero),” he said, adding other Tigers, Mickey Lolich and Willie Horton were also some of his favorite players.
He even had the chance to speak with Kaline while penning his book The Final Season, which chronicles the final baseball season played in Tigers Stadium.
“I went to all 81 games that year, but it’s not about what the team was doing on the field. It’s about the people I meant and the heroes I had playing in that stadium,” Stanton said, adding it also talks about his relationship with his dad. “I still get e-mails from people who are reading that book.”
After The Final Season hit the shelves, Stanton was offered a chance to speak in Cooperstown at the baseball hall of fame, which he covered in his book The Road to Cooperstown, which also touches on his relationship with his father, and their journey and visit to the hall of fame.
Next, he wrote Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America.
“I was recreating that 18-month period when he was trying to break Babe Ruth’s home run record,” he said. “Every game he was getting death threats because people didn’t want to see him break the record.
“He was playing in the South in Atlanta, Georgia, amidst a lot of racism.”
While working on this book, Stanton says he actually spoke with Aaron, who held the career home run record for multiple decades before it was controversially broke by Barry Bonds.
“We talked by phone once,” Stanton said. “It would’ve been nice to interview him in length. … He cleared the way for me to talk to people he knew.”
And even though the Detroit area writer used to publish a fan magazine for Elton John’s fan base and met with the current United States Secretary of State while she was the First Lady, he says it’s much more exciting for him to conduct interviews for the baseball books.
“I’m interviewing Al Kaline or Hank Aaron and it’s a whole different dynamic. Suddenly I’m 12 years old again,” Stanton said. “You’re a little more nervous. You still hold those people in awe.”
Stanton also wrote Ty and the Babe, which tells stories about Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, and was named as one of the five best sports books of the year in 2007, according to Stanton’s bio.
His presentation at the Omer Courthouse, which starts at 7 p.m., was funded in part by an adult program grant given to the Arenac County Historical Society (ACHS) from the Iosco-Arenac District Library, says ACHS member Phyllis Klender.
She says the event will include some classic baseball fanfare.
“We’re going to have peanuts and crackerjacks,” Klender said, adding the traditional baseball stadium treats will be served, along with other refreshments provided by the ACHS, after Stanton’s presentation.
For more information, visit tomstanton.com.