A Conversation with Dean Whitney Author of Pinch Hitter
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
To read more about Norm Follow Here
Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is
pleased to have as our guest, Dean Whitney author of Pinch Hitter.
Good day Dean and thanks for participating in our interview.
Could you tell our readers why you have been very interested in baseball since you were a kid?
Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this
interview! To answer your question, I remember watching the
Saturday “Games of the Week” with my family when I was six or
seven. I didn’t really understand that much about the game, but I
knew I liked it. Then, at the age of nine, I fell head over heels in
love with the sport during the 1955 World Series between the Brooklyn
Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
At that time we were living in Sacramento, California. Our next door neighbors were originally from Brooklyn and huge Dodger fans. It was their exhilaration over the Dodger victory that prompted me to become a Dodger fan and learn everything I could about the game. Like all baseball fans, I certainly enjoyed the action. In my mind, there’s nothing more exciting than hearing the “crack of the bat” and watching a ball sail over the fence for a home run. However, I strongly believe that what initially attracted me to the game was the strategy involved. To many kids back then, baseball was simply “hit the ball and run” and “catch the ball and throw it”. In my case, I became a student of the game. The more I learned, the more I realized how complex the sport of baseball actually was.
I should point out that my wife and I switched allegiances from
the Dodgers to the San Diego Padres in 1996 when we decided to make
San Diego our permanent home.
What was the timeline between the time you decided to
write your book and publication? What were the major events along the
Although I had carried around the idea for Pinch
Hitter for a few months, I didn’t decide to write the story until
around the beginning of October, 2007. It was published toward the
end of June, 2008. The only major event I can think of is the
disappointing end to the San Diego Padres 2007 season.
Forced into a
one-game playoff with the Colorado Rockies, the Pads lost the
extra-inning game on a controversial call. At that point I attempted
to put it out of my mind by burying myself in the book and all the
research required for a first-time novelist. However, truth be told,
I’m still a little miffed about the 2007 season.
Could you briefly tell our readers something about Pinch Hitter
and what motivated you to write the book?
Pinch Hitter is an up-lifting story that can be enjoyed by both
fans and non-fans of baseball. Yes, it certainly contains plenty of
baseball action. However, it’s primarily about love, family, and
redemption. While my initial intention was to concoct a story that
would captivate middle-aged men who still dreamed of playing in the
big leagues, the main character (David Robbins) is a man who women
find very appealing.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your book?
The basic idea for Pinch Hitter was concocted in my head. And, because of my baseball knowledge, very little research was required.
What do you want your book to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?
I’ve had many people (including men) tell me that Pinch Hitter made them laugh and cry. I’m humbled by the notion that my written words can actually invoke such emotions in other human beings. And I would hope that anyone who is seeking redemption with a family member or a friend would be encouraged by the plight of David Robbins.
What was the most difficult part of writing your book? Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The most difficult thing was writing, re-writing, and re-writing again the emotional parts of the story. Believe me, I went through a lot Kleenex. What did I learn? Well, I learned that writing a book is hard work. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all writers who endure the process.
How much real-life did you put into Pinch Hitter? Is
there much “you” in there?
Not really. But there are characters in the book who are based on
actual people. For instance, I write about a group of men known as
the “Godfathers” who hang out at a sports bar called Fiji’s.
Those guys really exist at a sports bar in San Diego called Seau’s
The Restaurant. And there are the two Greek brothers who own a
popular breakfast place. They also exist. Last but not least, David’s
fourteen-year old son, Michael, is based on my real-life nephew. All
of the names, however, were changed to protect their identities.
When writing your book, did you ever have it in the
back of your mind that you could turn it into a movie or television
From the very beginning. In fact, with the help of a professional
screenwriter, I recently completed a screenplay for Pinch Hitter and
will soon start pitching it to agents.
Can you tell us how you found representation for your
book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would
most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you
Initially I intended to query publishers. After researching the business, however, I learned that it could take a long time—possibly years—to get it published. And then there was the issue of creative control. Being that I wanted it published during the 2008 baseball season, I opted for self-publishing. I may approach it differently with my next novel, which is a murder mystery.
What do you think makes a good story?
To me, a good story either provokes thought or moves you emotionally…or both. I also like a story that stays on point and paints a visual image.
What do you think about professional baseball today? Do you think
baseball players are overpaid? Do you feel that today’s players are
better than yesteryear?
I don’t think you have enough space for my complete answers to
those questions. So, I’ll give you the short answers.
Economically, I believe that major league baseball is headed down a dark path. Ticket and concession prices, even for the smaller market teams, are making it increasingly difficult for the average family to attend more than a handful of games each year. And the primary reason for that is the exorbitant contracts being handed out to even mediocre players. You can’t really blame the players. Why shouldn’t they take the money if the owners are willing to give it to them? Until the owners figure out how to stop the bleeding, it will only get worse. It should be noted that the teams with the highest payrolls aren’t necessarily the best teams, nor are they the teams that end up winning the World Series.
While today’s players may be bigger and stronger than players of
yesteryear, I don’t believe they’re better overall. What I
personally find disconcerting is the fact that many of today’s
players seem to lack basic fundamental skills—although they’re
supposedly taught those skills in the minor leagues. Another thing
that bugs me about many of today’s players: they don’t seem very
knowledgeable about the history of the game. On the other hand, I
feel that pitching has gotten more technical and is somewhat better.
I’m not certain if players like Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, or even Babe
Ruth would fare as well against some of today’s top hurlers. Then
again, I could be wrong.
How can readers find out more about you and your
They can check out my WEBSITE. Information regarding Pinch Hitter, including reviews, can be found there. I also have a baseball blog connected to my site. I will be updating it regularly once spring training gets into full swing.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Only that I sincerely thank them for taking the time to read this interview. And I thank you, Norm, for allowing me to share my thoughts.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors