Thursday, July 7, 2011

Timeless Baseball and Life Principles in The 10 Commandments of Baseball

Young people love to hear about great athletes and their accomplishments. In The 10 Commandments of Baseball, featured players include many greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio along with many others who are not so well known.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball by J. D. Thorne is full of timeless sports and life lessons for readers--as important today as when the principles were penned back in 1921 by the greatest baseball manager of all time, Joe McCarthy. One recent discussion on sports radio here in Chicago concerned a player's slump. Timeless baseball principles suggest slumping teams and players need to focus on the fundamentals and avoid trying too hard to specifically solve the problem. When the fundamentals are applied consistently, the rest follows.

Another story here in Chicago centered on Paul Konerko's All-star plight. Paulie refused to moan about the All-Star selection process that to date has kept him off the team despite his tremendous season. In fact Konerko said that "they got it right." Baseball principles tell us to stay positive and respect authority like Paul Konerko.

A flurry of errors this season have helped side-tracked the Cubs. Baseball principles tell players to keep their head in the game--"keep your head up and you won't have to keep it down" is the principle. Stay alert in all you do.

In good programs, Baseball principles are taught to young players early and if presented the right way, they also serve players as life principles. The 10 Commandments of Baseball is highly recommended by many baseball enthusiasts because it's a wonderful baseball book as well as a book on life. Written at an 8th grade reading level, the book is accessible to adults and younger readers as well. It has been described as "a tremendous achievement—a tribute to everyone who has played the game"—"a perfect storm of a baseball book"—"a keeper—a book for all time"—" a great contribution to the literature of baseball."

See Sporting Chance Press for details and ordering information.

Image is "Boys Playing Baseball" from the Library of Congress, Herbert A. French.

Nicolette House Available to Talk Skating, Fitness and Discipline to Young Students

Professional ice dancer, figure skating instructor and Sporting Chance Press author, Nicolette House is scheduling talks at schools and libraries for this coming fall. Nothing helps energize and inspire students more than a positive role model making a personal appearance. In Nicolette's Figure Skating and Writing Program, Students get a first hand glimpse of what it takes for a young athlete to compete. Nicolette's presentation talks about the importance of discipline in practice, the need to respect authority and communicate with Mom and Dad, and the necessity of a healthy diet to be at one's best. Nicolette also talks about how she came to write her book: Maddie Takes the Ice, a compelling figure skating story for ages 8-12 that is an America's Battle of the Books selection for 2011.

Nicolette's one-part athlete—one part author presentation is suited for elementary and middle/junior high school audiences. A fun "show and tell" program that offers an up close and personal look at a positive role model for students. Nicolette is a figure skater and coach following in her mother's footsteps. Her mother, Ilona House is a former professional skater who coached Nicolette and has coached in Chicago and the northwest suburban area for many years.

Nicolette House is a four-time U.S Figure Skating gold medalist. Skating since the age of three, she went on to compete in European, World, and international ice dance competitions with her skating partner Aidas Reklys. Along with her Aidas, the author recently created After Dark (2010) and Military Time (2011) skating shows featuring several top international skaters. Ms. House is a recent graduate of DePaul University.

Like her Figure Skating and Writing Presentation, Maddie Takes the Ice keeps readers attention with plenty of drama and social interaction--life lessons included. More on Maddie Takes the Ice.

If you are interested in having Nicolette speak at your school or library, please let us know at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Great Sports Lives Live on in Books: Father Mac the Skid Row Priest

My father used to say that the only difference between a "big shot" and the rest of us is the size of the obituary. I think it's a common sentiment--people who are well known do not necessarily live exemplary lives that make much difference here after they are gone. But my father was also a big fan of anyone who did make a difference by their selfless actions and courage.

In our books at Sporting Chance Press, we often write about people who have made a difference in many ways--those who often struggled to overcome adversary or even self destructive tendencies, but succeeded to fight the good fight. In sports, there are many who walked the walk and it's inspiring to read about these people. We hope to give their stories a "sporting chance" to live on. Some we have covered are household names already: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays (covered in The 10 Commandments of Baseball) and George Halas, Walter Payton, Brian Piccolo, Art Rooney,(covered in Sports and Faith). We've taken up the cause of sport's greatest underdog, Fred Merkle in Public Bonehead, Private Hero -- and there are great lessons to be learned from an innocent man's response to public cruelty.

As a publisher, covering the lives of quiet heroes gives me great satisfaction. One that Patrick McCaskey introduces in Sports and Faith is Monsignor Ignatius McDermott, who was Chicago's Skid Row Priest. McDermott was one of Chicago's greatest Sox fans for most of his 95 years. If he was still alive, it would be great to have his opinion on Paul Konerko's All-Star plight.

Ignatius McDermott was more a fan than an athlete and when he injured himself seriously in a pick-up football game while in the Seminary, he was almost expelled. The Catholic Church needed physically fit candidates for the rigorous duties of the priesthood. Young McDermott had his fans, including Cardinal Mundelein, and although he did not graduate with his class, he made it a year later and the rest is history.

Father Mac, as he was affectionately called, served as assistant director of the Chicago Archdiocese's Catholic Charities with an office that was a stone's throw from skid row. Enthusiasm and warmth was perpetually written on his face. McDermott made it his mission to step out of his office to serve the residents of skid row and he went among them frequently. Like Mother Teresa, McDermott would do all he could personally to help those unfortunate find warm lodging or a good meal--working with chemically dependent is a ministry that moves in inches, yet the once hot-tempered Irish Priest never seemed to tire of his work.

A friend of politicians and everyday folk, Father Mac saw people from all walks of life fall including some of his brother Priests and he did what he could for them. He understood more than most that life is frequently troubled and that many of us walk a fine line between success and failure.

At age 65, he retired from Catholic Charities and together with Dr. James West founded Haymarket Center, a facility for the addicted that provides a continuum of professional care. This turned out to be an enormous undertaking that led to second long career for the remarkable Priest who touched thousands and thousands of lives.

Father Mac died on December 31, 2004. His motto was a quote from St. Vincent De Paul: "When you no longer burn with love, others will die of the cold."

For a comprehensive look at Father Mac's life, Haymarket Center offers his biography. For stories on many great sports heroes, see Sporting Chance Press.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball: Perfect Book for Boys

Most parents and teachers know that you can't cram something that's good for kids down their throats. There has to be some attraction from the start. Kids have to want it.

For many boys, the reading habit is one of those good-for-you habits that is difficult to form. One of the best ways to encourage the habit in boys, is making sure that they have something that is attractive and interesting to read. Some educators suggest magazines with short articles and lots of illustrations and pictures. The idea is to give the boy something in a bite size morsel on topics that he is interested in to get the reading habit started. Books are better because they help give the boy a sense of self esteem upon completion--"I read another book."

Some boys just have a difficult time reading at all. As a boy becomes older, if his reading skills are not up to par, it can become even more difficult for him to improve his reading because most materials that may be at his reading level may not be at his interest level. It's a little like an adult who begins piano lessons, the beginner's piano book may be loaded with little songs that would appeal to an 8-year old. It's important to encourage reading early and keep encouraging it.

Our book, The 10 Commandments of Baseball is a perfect storm of a baseball book that is made up in large part of short bits on famous baseball players that illustrate the baseball principles presented. It's written at about an 8th grade reading level so it is accessible to many younger fans as well as adult fans. One of my customers told me that her 10-year old grandson "simply loved the book"--and we know from our author's presentations, the book has plenty of young fans. The National Baseball Hall of Fame photos, the vintage look of the book and it's manageable size make it a wonderful book for boys and girls interested in baseball. The book is an affectionate look at Joe McCarthy's rules for baseball and life -- so it's got plenty of "good stuff" in a package that attracts readers of all ages.

The book is available from Sporting Chance Press. It's a perfect book for a reading group, class or a book club as well.

Photo is from Library of Congress Collection: "Kids at a ball game at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan"--John Vachon Photographer.