Friday, November 26, 2021

The Writing of BORN FOR THE GAME: A New and Exciting Sports Fiction from Mike DeLucia

FREE with Kindle Unlimited

A blind man knocks himself unconscious by tripping over his dog’s bowl and smashing his forehead into a radiator. He is awakened by his dog licking the blood off of his face…When he opens his eyes, he could see! 

At least that’s what my brother, Joey, told me when we were kids in the 1970s. I believed him because it made complete sense. Firstly, I witnessed people, besides Fonzie, punch broken machines to life again. Secondly, it was common knowledge that humans only use 10% of their brain capacity (another 1970’s myth). And most importantly, my brother had sworn to it, after all. While I can’t say for certain if the story is the truth or a myth, it is, however, the inspiration for this book.

My belief in the blind man’s phenomenon led me on a journey that began with Benny, a prospect signed by the Yankees right out of high school but released a few years later, who spent the next ten years watching TV sports, coaching Little League, and playing softball. The movie began (I always see my books as films) with Benny up at bat in the last inning of a game. The fans cheer as a plump, over-forty pitcher releases an underarm fastball. Benny swings and connects. The centerfielder confidently tracks the ball to the fence, leaps, and catches it in the web of his glove, robbing Benny of the game-winning homerun. After the loss, Benny ponders his final at-bat while sitting in his car at a red light. The camera goes to slow motion as a car slams him from behind and propels his head into the windshield. The scene cuts to Benny waking up in a hospital bed. He sits up, causing alarms to sound, and a clutch of nurses rush to his aid. 

“Five Months Later” appears as Benny is cooking dinner at home. A blotchy mark on his forehead is all that remains of his injuries. While he flips a burger, he kicks a cabinet door shut, which causes a jar to fall off the edge of the countertop. The camera goes to slow motion as Benny catches the jar just before it shatters on the floor. Other examples of his heightened dexterity occur before the plot moves back to the softball field displaying a montage of acrobatic catches, base stealing, and 450-foot homeruns—all against the plump, over-forty pitcher who shut him down in the previous game. 

These and other such scenes, kept me company on many nights when I had trouble sleeping, or while driving my car, or other times when I just wanted to exist in Benny’s world for a short while. These moments were not anything close to a story, they were a collection of scenes. There were times I visited Benny often and other times when I didn’t think of him for years, but the story I referred to as The Baseball Movie, morphed inside of my imagination for decades. Benny went from being a man, to a boy, to Ryan Stone, the story’s final and most intriguing protagonist. Not only has Benny’s character been removed, so has the plot-point of blind man’s anomaly. 

While much of The Baseball Movie has evolved, the concept of being the greatest of all time and the challenges accompanying that lofty goal, remained the crux of the story. 

What does it take to be the greatest at anything? This is a universal question and dreaming about it is a universal fantasy.  Someone has to be the best. Why not me? Why not you? The possibility of it, albeit slight, exists, and that’s what makes it so much fun to imagine. 

Although it has taken nearly a lifetime to complete, The Baseball Movie officially became the novel, Born For The Game and was finally released from my imagination in the summer of 2021. Freeing something that’s been bouncing around inside for fifty years is an extraordinary feeling, indeed. If I’d gone my whole life without completing it, I’m sure I would have felt deep regret. 

The night I finished the first draft of the manuscript, I raised a glass…or three… of Prosecco with my wife Lil and will do the same when I tear open the Amazon envelope, grasp the book in my hand, and flip through its pages.


~ Mike DeLucia, 2021