Retired Henry High Teacher publishes novel

Life in a small Iowa town where baseball is a religion

Time often slows and frequently even stops in the small town of Cottage Park, Iowa where time is best measured not by the hands of a clock but by innings in a baseball game. Praying and playing baseball are two of the town’s primary activities. Actually they are one in the same in a town where baseball is a religion—a religion where some fathers, like the Greek god Chronos, devour their sons before they can grow up, and other fathers like the God of Abraham, sacrifice their beloved sons to save the world.

Tom Murray (pictured with father and baseball coach), retired teacher from Henry High School and author of Fathers, Sons, and the Holy Ghosts of Baseball, discusses the genesis of this story:  “In 1973 I was a scrub on the football team in Burlington, Iowa—missed a big tackle that resulted in a touchdown, and was sentenced to life on the end of a very long bench. From my solitary perch on the bench I had a lot of time to think about my coaches, all older men, and the fathers in the bleachers behind living vicariously through their sons on the field. Like many of those boys I played for my hero, my father. And also like many of those boys who battled for victory and glory in athletic contests, I wished that I had known my father better. Sometimes I felt I didn’t know him at all.”

“Way back then I filled my empty head with dreams of a story where the old men were coaching, and fathers were cheering on their sons, but instead in another sport in which I was also a miserable failure—baseball. It’s true that those who can’t play baseball write about it. I’ve been thinking, writing and editing this story since 1973.”

“Fortunately the baseball gene skipped only my generation. My two sons, both blessed with baseball prowess, returned glory to the Murray name. In 2014 I retired from Henry High School with the hopes of finally finishing this story of my father, and now my sons, and dedicating it to my father and his father. I hoped to present it to him wrapped in the cover of his favorite print—a portrait of Memorial Field in Bancroft, Iowa—a field built on land donated by his father and dedicated to his brother, Tommy Murray who sacrificed his life in World War II. Unfortunately I couldn’t write my story as fast as dementia robbed my father of his life’s story. Dad never got to read the printed copy.”

“Regretfully, and yet with pride, I now present this story of a high school baseball team in a small town in northwest Iowa in 1974 desperately fighting to win their first Iowa State Summer Baseball Championship.  This novel is for those who love small towns, baseball and their own fathers.”

Visit facebook.com/baseballisareligion for review copies.