BATTER UP! by Jo-Ann Roberts

Baseball has come a long way from the humble beginnings in the fields of 19th century America. For many of us, the introduction of  team camaraderie and fair play first occurred on dusty sandlots, red clay diamonds, and neighborhood backyards. Contrary to popular belief, American baseball was not invented by an individual but evolved from various European “bat and ball” games.

Yet, if you were to mention “sports” in the Old West you’d probably get some strange looks. But sports, baseball, were as much a part of a town’s beginnings and, in many cases, its growth as cowboys and horses. Often, cultivating a pasture or vacant lot into a playing field was as important as establishing homes, a mercantile, a school, a church,  and a clean water supply. While summer evenings and Saturday afternoons were prime times to gather up the fellas for a game, playing on Sunday was soundly discouraged.

 

Teams in each town were comprised of friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Everyone was welcomed to play regardless of race, color, or country of origin. It was common to see teams comprised of African Americans, those of Mexican origin, and those indigenous to the lands who were passing through the area. Not to be left out, some women’s teams were formed in the early colleges in Kansas.  Women also formed teams in their respective towns. Research showed that a women’s league with five towns around Topeka was established, some even included a male player or two in their lineup. Though some townspeople were startled at this occurrence, others merely accepted the fact.  (Hmm…wouldn’t this make a great series!

Setting these books in the purely fictitious town of New Hope, Kansas, I did considerable research into baseball in Kansas following the war. 

  • The history of baseball by organized clubs grew from the experiences of former Union and Confederate soldiers and spread across the prairie. The game became a great unifier in the years that followed the war.
  • 19th century bats were heavier and thicker in the handle with more of a gradual taper from the handle to barrel.
  • A catcher’s glove began as a leather work glove, similar to the glove a brakeman on the railroad would use.

  • The more prominent clubs in the larger Kansas cities donned uniforms consisting of long woolen trousers, leather belts, flannel shirts emblazoned with the town’s initial, and woolen caps.
  • Early baseballs were made from a rubber core from old, melted shoes, wrapped in yarn, covered in some form of brown leather, and stitched in a style known as a “lemon peel”. Pitchers usually made their own balls, which were used throughout the game.   

 

Posey Campbell couldn’t understand why her love life, or lack thereof, was of such interest to her family and friends. Having endured one ill-fated relationship, she resigned herself to living out her days as New Hope’s spinster schoolteacher…until an unkempt U.S. marshal with inviting grey eyes and a kiss-me-smile came to town turning her well-ordered life off-kilter.

Glad for a temporary assignment keeping him in one place, Grayson Barrett never expected to find love, let alone a wife, a set of orphans, and a life he’d feared had passed him by.

When a secret from Posey’s past comes to light will Gray’s steadfast love be enough to convince her he is the right man? Or will an old nemesis put an end to their love before it begins?

EXCERPT  |   AMAZON  |  GOODREADS

 

       

 

My giveaway includes a $10 Amazon gift card, along with a digital copy of my newest release, Posey-Brides of New Hope Book Two.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is to comment on this blog and Petticoats and Pistols will randomly select a winner.

 

I look forward to chatting with you…Play Ball!

A firm believer in HEA with a healthy dose of realism, Jo-Ann Roberts strives to give her readers a sweet historical romance while imparting carefully researched historical facts, personalities, and experiences relative to the time period. Her romances take her readers back to a simpler time to escape the stress of modern life by living in a small town where families and friends help one another find love and happiness.

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58 thoughts on “BATTER UP! by Jo-Ann Roberts”

    • Sadly, I agree. We always made a trip to Fenway Park each summer to see my beloved Red Sox. I hope it’s not gone forever.

      • Here in Finland they are still playing baseball (the rules are a bit different with the Finnish variety of the game). Of course, they are taking whatever precautions they can with the pandemic.

        • Minna, so happy to connect with you! Thank you for stopping by Petticoats and Pistols to read my blog. While doing my research I did indeed discover a variation of a bat and ball game was played in the mid-18th century in Europe and Russia. Thank you for commenting. I hope you have a good day!

  1. Wonderful part of history. I don’t remember seeing anything about that when I visited the Hall of Fame years ago. Hopefully, they’ve updated to reflect that part of history.

    • When we visited the Hall of Fame it was just after the movie “A League of Their Own” was released. They had display and one on the African American leagues. But didn’t have anything about baseball in the West.

  2. One of my grandsons is a baseball fanatic. He absolutely loves the game, and does quite well as a catcher. He can quote all kinds of baseball statistics and information. Thanks for sharing this blog with us.

    • Janice, my son was a catcher as well in little league, although I don’t know how he did it, getting up and down so many times! My legs hurt just watching him!

  3. Welcome to P & P. I loved this blog, I live in Kansas and I did not know all these facts. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing some Kansas sport history I didn’t know.

    • Tonya, thanks for your kind words. Mark Eberle wrote “Baseball in Kansas”. If you like baseball, it is such an interesting read. I love the info on the women’s leagues…maybe a future series?!?!

    • I agree, Melanie! Although this is a frustrating time for all sports lovers. Hopefully, we’ll all be back next year!

  4. My dad’s family were big baseball fans. My dad even played on a local team, and one brother had a huge baseball card collection. I was too busy reading to be interested in the sport. I took a book to read during my brother’s Little League game. Thank you for the interesting historical info on baseball.

    • Roxanne, my dad played semi-pro ball in Massachusetts and NY. That’s how he met my mother. In my family you are either a Red Sox fan or NY Yankee fan…always interesting conversations during baseball season!

  5. I enjoyed you blog post. I didn’t realize that base ball went that far back in time. Years ago I play on a women’s soft ball team and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t imagine catching a ball with the clove you have posted. Seems like that would be pretty rough on the hands.

    • Actually, a form of bat and ball games were played in Europe and Russia during the mid-18th century. Until I did research for Posey-Book Two, I had no idea as well. In addition to the rudimentary bats, gloves and ball they had back then, they wore woolen shirts and pants! Must have been really hot during the summer months.

    • Thank you, Cathy! I really enjoyed writing Posey and Grayson’s story. The baseball scene was especially fun for me as I had my son’s help since he is a “leftie” and played baseball since he was five years old.

  6. Great info. I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life and didn’t know that. And I love that there were so many women’s teams!

    • Jess, there is a great book by Mark Eberle which tells all about teams, ball parks, and the history of the game from 1858-1941. I’m seriously thinking about a book having a women’s team with one or two men joining it…that actually happened in one of the women’s team. Good chatting with you!

    • Mine, too, Estella! Because I love the game, I decided to make this a fun scene in the book showing the town’s enthusiasm for the game and a chance for interaction between the main characters. Good chatting with you!

  7. Welcome today and thank you for the generous give a way. This is some interesting facts about baseball. Cool how they made their balls. I love the ladies photo. Oh but this would be so cool in a book or a short series of women on a baseball team finding love with men from another baseball team. How fun would that be?
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Thank you for the warm welcome, Lori! I agree that writing on women’s baseball in the mid-19th century would be a fun book…or series. Good chatting with you!

  8. Thank you for this very interesting blog! I love watching baseball and especially the children’s teams play. All of my sons played as they were growing up. This is info that I didn’t know! Always love to learn something new!

    • I love baseball, too! My son played T-Ball, Little League, h.s. ball and American Legion. My daughter always played softball on town leagues as well as h.s. My favorite was watching T-ball…they were so cute and determined!

  9. Fascinating blog post. Baseball is wonderful for adults and children. My sons played in leagues and now my grandsons. This is a port which I can relate to.

    • I love the game, as did my son and daughter. They both played as children on town leagues and in h.s. My son even played American Legion ball during summers in high school. I still love going to major league parks…maybe next year! Good to hear from you, Laini!

  10. Baseball is my favorite sport. My boys love baseball. Our town has a minor league team and what an experience to watch the games.

    • It’s mine, too, Ellie! Growing up in Massachusetts, we had a Red Sox minor league team as well. Great fun times and many of the players went onto the major leagues. Going to minor league games is a fun and inexpensive summer activity for the whole family! Happy we had a chance to connect!

  11. I loved learning the history. To me baseball exemplifies life and sports. We visited Cooperstown many years ago. Playing baseball is the best ever.

    • Sharon, I love history as well. I think that’s why I write historical romance. I especially enjoy learning little-known facts which I can incorporate in my stories about real people, places and events to make a more compelling story. My daughter and I did a ‘girls weekend’ to Cooperstown a few years ago. The Hall of Fame and the town is so interesting. Did you know that the ballpark at Cooperstown is the setting for the World Series in “A League of Their Own”? Every time I watch it that fact comes back to me. I enjoyed chatting with you!

  12. The good ole days … I loved this blog! Thank you for sharing such wonderful traditions. I can’t imagine the joy, fun, and competition these games brought to the townspeople. I loved the pictures you included of the catcher’s glove and baseball. Can’t imagine what these games meant to families who had to work very hard to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Games … how they lighten our hearts.

    • Kathy, thanks for your comments. The baseball scene in Posey-Brides of New Hope Book Two was such fun to write. Like you I imagine the townspeople celebrating Founders’ Day with a picnic, games and, of course, a baseball game with other towns. What fun it would have been to witnessed how they played the game compared to modern baseball. I’m happy you enjoyed the blog! Good chatting with you.

  13. Great post! More little facts to add to my knowledge of the game. My family has always participated in some way and I’ve loved it. Sometimes I’m afraid we’ve lost some of that camaraderie, team spirit and inclusiveness in the big leagues in this age of big money, big trades, big contracts and records to be broken. This year is odd for sure. I’m glad to see teams playing even if with some modification or a short schedule, but I get distracted and find it hard to continue to respect players I’ve watched for years (since they were young guys!) not wear masks or social distance as they’ve been asked. Kind of disappointing the example they are setting.

    Yours is a new series to me. Love this kind of story. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Sally, sadly, this year’s baseball season has altered the way we view the games, both visually and philosophically. But there’s always next year. When my children were younger they played little league and h.s. ball. I so enjoyed the pure happiness I witnessed. I wish some of today’s players could remember that joy and play like that again. Thanks for chatting with me!

  14. This is so very interesting, Thank you so much for sharing about this. Yes, this pandemic has done a number on a lot of things, all we need to do is put our masks on and stay safe. My daughter, my son in law and my 2 grandchildren we have from them have always gone to the big team baseballs games about 2 hours away form our town, they love going, unfortunately this year there were none, but God willing next year they will be able to enjoy the baseball games. Hope is what we have. Have a Great weekend and stay safe.

    • Alicia, thanks for your kind words. Yes, it’s true this pandemic has altered so many plans for so many people. Our annual trip back to Boston to see the Red Sox play in Fenway was cancelled. We can only hope next year will be able to enjoy planned activities and not to take anything for granted. Good chatting with you. Have a wonderful Friday!

      Reply

  15. Alicia, thanks for your kind words. Yes, it’s true this pandemic has altered so many plans for so many people. Our annual trip back to Boston to see the Red Sox play in Fenway was cancelled. We can only hope next year will be able to enjoy planned activities and not to take anything for granted. Good chatting with you. Have a wonderful Friday!

    • Debra, so many games, concerts, family gatherings, and weddings have been cancelled or delayed as well. For those of us who enjoy going to sporting events, watching it on t.v. with no fans in the park just isn’t the same. As you said wait until next year. Thanks for chatting with me. Have a good start to your weekend.

    • Abigail, it goes back even further to the mid-18th century. A variation of bat and ball games was played in Europe and Russia. Good chatting with you. Have a safe weekend.

    • You are very welcome. I enjoy finding tidbits of information and incorporating them into my stories. I feel it adds authenticity not only to the romance but the story as a whole. Thanks for commenting today. Have a safe weekend.

  16. Enjoyed your post. It took me back more years than I care to think. When pick-up games of baseball and sometimes football among the neighborhood kids, and some days adults, were the norm. Teams were a mix of ages, boys, girls, and ethnicity. The whole point was to play, run, and have fun. In many ways, those games were more fun than Little League games which , depending on the coach, often became much too competitive and cut throat. It is not as common today to see kids outside playing ball, with their mismatched teams, enjoying themselves and having fun. Not that organized teams were or are a bad thing. They teach the rules of the game, sportsmanship (sometimes, our experiences with Little League was not good – much cheating by coaches and parents), and how to play.
    It is nice that towns had these teams to watch and compete with. Work was hard and there were not that many outlets for entertainment. Thank you for researching your books so well. That is important to me. It gives an authenticity to the stories and makes them more enjoyable.
    Thank you for visiting today. Stay safe and healthy.

    • Patricia, so happy you enjoyed the blog. Writing the excerpt included in this blog was so much fun. I, too, remember neighborhood pick up games with boys, girls and parents. Sometimes, I think we learned more from these get-together than
      we did in school. Sadly, as you said, you don’t see too much of it these days. I know why parents don’t send their children outside to play, but everyone can benefit from fresh air and sunshine. I enjoyed chatting with you. Have a safe week-end.

  17. Patricia, so happy you enjoyed the blog. Writing the excerpt included in this blog was so much fun. I, too, remember neighborhood pick up games with boys, girls and parents. Sometimes, I think we learned more from these get-together than
    we did in school. Sadly, as you said, you don’t see too much of it these days. I know why parents don’t send their children outside to play, but everyone can benefit from fresh air and sunshine. I enjoyed chatting with you. Have a safe week-end.

  18. Your book sounds great. You hooked me with the line “…spinster schoolteacher…until an unkempt U.S. marshal with inviting grey eyes and a kiss-me-smile came to town turning her well-ordered life off-kilter.”

    • Cheryl, thank you for commenting and your kind words. I loved Posey and Grayson’s story…it was a joy to write! If you get a chance to read it, I’d appreciate hearing your comments. I’ve included an excerpt (the baseball game on Founders’ Day). I hope enjoy it. Good chatting with you. Have a great weekend.

  19. Very interesting article.
    I always loved playing baseball when I was in school.
    Your book sounds really good. I am always looking for new authors to read.

    • Joye, thank you for commenting and joining in the conversation. Though I didn’t play when I was younger, I loved watching it on t.v. or at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium where I went with my father. My children played in town leagues and h.s. …loved watching them play. I hope you enjoy reading Brides of New Hope series. Have a wonderful day.

    • Jackie, thanks for joining in the conversation. I didn’t play baseball as a child, but I did so enjoy watching my children and their friends play in the town leagues and h.s. Good talking with you. Have a wonderful day.

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