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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interview With Sports Book Author J.P. Hoomstra


Author of The 50 Greatest Dodgers Games of All Time

What inspired you to write this book? Being around the ballpark I hear talk, and read blogs, about the best Dodger games ever. Yet somehow, no one had ever sat down and written a book about the 50 Greatest Games of All Time. It seemed overdue. This book is the first of its kind.

How did you go about selecting the top 50 Dodger games out of 125 seasons that spanned 10,000 games? For each game I considered things like drama, historical significance, significance within each season, and the individual acts of greatness that took place in each game. I put a master list together, tinkered with it, and ultimately went with my gut.

How are the Dodgers different than most other baseball teams or sports franchises? There are more similarities than differences, but for the purposes of this book the differences were easy to find. The Dodgers have been around way longer than most teams (125 years since joining the National League). The number of people who have worn their uniform, or worked for the Dodgers in another capacity, is staggering. One was Jackie Robinson. They’ve called the two largest media markets in the United States home, which is rare if not unique.

Did you choose a monumental game like Jackie Robinson breaking the sports color barrier or the first-ever televised game or did you choose something significant like a perfect game or a World Series win as your greatest game? I’d rather people read the book to find out, but let’s just say I had my Top 3 games picked out before the other 47 games -- and I didn’t decide the order of the Top 3 immediately. They were (in no particular order) Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, a perfect game, and a World Series win.

You report on the team for the Los Angeles News Group. What is it like to go see your favorite team play every day? Because I report on the team every day, I’m not a Dodger fan. You can’t be as a reporter; it just doesn’t work like that. They’re my favorite team to the extent that they are my subject. That said, what’s it like? The Dodger Stadium experience is 100 percent better when you’re not fighting traffic in the couple hours leading up to the game. (Reporters usually arrive four hours or more before the first pitch.)

Who are your top five greatest Dodgers? I could interpret this question a couple ways. My five greatest Dodgers to work with as long as I’ve been covering the team: Miguel Rojas, Luis Cruz, A.J. Ellis, Dee Gordon and J.P. Howell. The top five of all-time in terms of baseball accomplishments: Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Zack Wheat, Duke Snider and Clayton Kershaw (provided he keeps this up).

My dad grew up in Brooklyn rooting for the beloved Bums, is there a feeling in LA that the team is still a NY transplant that broke the hearts of millions like my dad, or is that part of their history now a distant memory for just a handful? There’s really no in-between feeling on this topic from my experience. They’re either an L.A. team or a Brooklyn team in your heart. It’s not a Brooklyn team to most of us in Los Angeles, not just because it’s Los Angeles but because most people living in Los Angeles were born after the move. Of course that wasn’t always the case, but it is now. I see hipsters wearing the Brooklyn “B” hat around town and I doubt they carry any heartbreak.

What challenges did you have in putting your book together? The two biggest challenges were making sure I didn’t miss any big games, particularly from the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and making sure the book had some balance (between eras, between playoff/non-playoff games, between games that were dramatic for how they ended and games that featured dramatic individual performances). Beyond that, doing research and interviews, and making old baseball games readable to a new audience, are all easier said than done.

Any advice for a struggling writer? The more you read and write, the better of a writer you’ll be. If you’re constantly reading good writing, not only will you be inspired and challenged but your brain will absorb new words, and new ideas for constructing sentences and paragraphs and stories. Challenge yourself to write something you’ve never written before. Don’t worry about who’s reading. Rinse, wash, repeat, and take breaks to clear your mind. Have fun.

For more information, please consult Riverdale Avenue Books or http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Dodgers-Games-Time/dp/1626011958.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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