Tag Archives: writing

FREE book – Jan. 17

17 Jan

A story of fishing, baseball but mostly life

5 Jan

Here’s an excerpt from Mike Reuther’s book, Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic.

To really understand this story, I guess you have to start at the end. For it was on a particular Labor Day Weekend, after we’d won our amateur adult baseball team tournament, that I first shared my story about Sir Jon. Up until then, I had never talked about Sir Jon, a kind of mythical figure from my days spent on trout streams, not even with my friend Hal, who’d been with me on one or two occasions when Sir Jon had showed up while we were fishing. Most people had never even heard of Sir Jon, and he remained an elusive kind of creature. It was as if he didn’t exist. It was Sir Jon, you might say, who made me finally realize what’s important, even if there were many other people who would play a big part in shaping me and my philosophy about life.

So there I was, Nick Grimes, still at the ball field long after most of my teammates had gone. I guess I was basking in my glory at the advanced baseball age of forty-five, the winning pitcher in the championship game. Somehow, my assortment of deceptive slow curves and changeups mixed in with an occasional fastball had baffled the opposing hitters. The only other person left was my young teammate, a kid named Leggett, who’d had a big day at the plate, going four for four with a couple of home runs. He’d been a high school star but had decided against going to college and playing ball. Some people said he was crazy for not pursuing baseball more seriously. He certainly had the tools for turning professional, and he was tall and lanky with a perfect kind of baseball body that the scouts loved. But I could tell he didn’t have the passion for the game. “I like hitting home runs,” he told me one day. “But the rest of the game … It pretty much bores me.”

What Leggett really enjoyed was trout fishing, and he never missed a chance to query me about my own experiences fishing and guiding anglers around central Pennsylvania. I was sitting in the small grandstands behind home plate when Leggett plopped down beside me on one of the weathered, wood planks.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play next year,” he said.

“Oh. Getting too old?” I looked at him and smiled.

“Ah … It’s just not that fun,” he said.

“Even on days like today … when you blasted a couple of home runs and led your team to victory?”

“It’s cool but …”

“But what?”

“It’s the same old shit. Tomorrow, I’ll go to work at the mall and put in my eight hours. Then back to work the next day and on and on it goes.”

“Yeah. I know how that is.”

“I’ve been out of high school two years now,” he said. “My girlfriend wants to move things along. Know what I mean?”

“You mean, get married?”

Leggett shrugged. “Sure. Have a kid, start a family. The whole deal. I won’t have time for this.”


“There’s gotta be more to life. Ya know?” He looked at me and then down at the ground.

“Like fishing?”

Leggett grinned. “Now that I can relate to.”

“Sure. Fishing is great.”

“Nothing like it,” he said.

“So. Go fishing.”

“I do man. Every chance I get. But it doesn’t change anything.”

“No, I suppose it doesn’t.”

“Like I said, I’m still stuck in that job and probably headed to the same old life everyone else has.”

“I guess it comes down to finding your passion.”

Leggett looked at me and then out at the field. The sun was low now and the trees along the first base line, some of which were just beginning to show their fall colors, were throwing long shadows across the green grass of the infield.

“You probably think I’m nuts for not taking one of those baseball scholarships a couple of years ago.” Leggett’s eyes narrowed in on me from beneath his baseball cap.

“What can I say? It was your decision.”

“Maybe I should have gone to school,” he said.

“Yeah … maybe.”

Leggett threw up his hands. “Aw hell … sometimes I drive myself crazy. Sometimes I think I am crazy.”

“Like I said, follow your passion.”

“Yeah … well. What the hell is my passion? Just tell me Grimes. What is it?”

“That’s for you to find out.”

We both sat there for a few moments staring out at the field.

“Sir Jon,” I said.

“What?” Leggett asked.

“Sir Jon. He’s this crazy mountain man who lives by himself not too far from here. You could become another Sir Jon.”

“And why would I become another Sir Jon?”

“He’s doing what he wants. He’s probably the most incredible fly fisherman I’ve ever seen.”

“Sir Jon?” Leggett looked at me with both suspicion and interest as if I’d just told him the lottery ticket he’d bought that morning had turned up a winner.

“A legend. But more importantly, a student of life.”

I didn’t know if I had gotten through to Leggett, a talented ballplayer who didn’t really like the game of baseball all that much, a kid who had spurned college scholarship offers to play. Leggett was like so many other kids on the verge of manhood, a bit lost but not hopeless, wondering what the hell he was going to be doing with his life for the next fifty years.

My reference to Sir Jon seemed to resonate with him, however. A hermit who’d given up a career to go live in the mountains and spend a lot of his time trout fishing seemed to appeal to Leggett.

“Sounds like the dude is doing what he wants to do,” Leggett said. “That’s cool.”

“It is cool.” I said.

“Yeah,” Leggett said.

He turned to me then. “Thanks man.”

“For what?”

“For giving me something to think about.”
He picked up his baseball bag and stuck out his hand.

“It’s been real,” he said.

“See you next season?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I doubt it. I think I’m done with baseball.” He took one last look out at the field. It was close to dusk by now, and the strange night calls of birds could be heard.

“Maybe I’ll look up that Sir Jon dude,” he said.

“Good luck,” I said.

“Yeah man.” He gave me a thumbs-up and headed across the field for his car parked out behind the right field fence. I watched his figure grow smaller and smaller in the fading light as he made his way across the outfield grass. And then, the engine of his car started up, and he was gone.

Sir Jon is a big part of this story I’m telling as is Leggett, even if you won’t read a whole lot about them. Keep their names in mind as you read on. Of course, the story is also about me, Nick Grimes.


Lonely guys on a mountaintop

4 Aug

“A blonde, a brunette and a couple of dogs,” Ritter said hopefully.

Moran nodded. It was the confident nod of a sage, who knew the score. “Are you sure Jon? I mean … it’s late October for God’s sakes, and there’s a chance of snow. I don’t think a pair of voluptuous women are going to venture up into these hills this time of year.”

“I didn’t say they were voluptuous for Pete’s sake,” Ritter said.

“Well … the way you described them ol’ chum. I mean … ”

Ritter picked up a piece of wood and poked at the campfire. “I think I said, they looked fetching … at least from a distance.” Why get his hopes up? he thought. I mean … life was full of disappointments and missed opportunities and shitty circumstances. Hell, if they wanted to meet women, why didn’t they just join some church or become dog owners and go to the park every day. I mean, he’d once heard somewhere – talk radio? freakin’ Facebook? – that daily walks with a pooch was a sure-fire way to meet women. Next thing you knew, some great looking gal was petting your dog and you were in like Flynn. Ah … but that wasn’t him … or Moran, for God sakes. On the other hand, he wouldn’t put it past Moran to try it.

Ritter peered down the mountain from their campsite, but he could see no sign of any ladies. It was late afternoon and the cool autumn breeze chilling his face more than hinted of a chilly night – his favorite kind of fall evening. Sure, who needed women anyway? He’d stare into the flames of the campfire, groove on the wind snapping the bare branches of the trees, gaze upward into the stars and the mysteriousness of the Rocky Mountain night. And yet … and yet … he had this gnawing hope that these women would appear.

Moran brought the binoculars up to his eyes, training them on … what? The trail disappeared into pines and aspens. Good God, it was impossible to see anything.

“What in God’s name are you looking at?” Ritter asked.

Quite suddenly, a smile creased the old professor’s face. “Bing-GO,” Moran said.

“What?” Ritter nearly shouted.

“There they are … as gorgeous as co-eds traversing the lawn of Penn State’s Old Main on a sunny spring afternoon.”

“Wha-a-a-a …” Ritter sputtered. “Let me see those binoculars.”

“No need, my boy.”

Sure enough, Ritter saw for himself the two women, the pair of canines trailing them – a blonde and a brunette, just now emerging from the thick canopy of trees along the trail.

“Holy jumpin’ juju bees,” Ritter said. “I look like hell.” He scrambled to his feet and looked toward the tent. “What do we do?” He knew full well he probably didn’t smell too good. Three days of hiking without a bath didn’t exactly result in pleasant bodily odors.

Moran coolly lowered the binoculars and smiled at his longtime protégé. He slowly stood, pulling a beret from his pocket and placing it atop his head at a rakish angle. He looked toward the tent, and trotted off toward it, leaving Ritter next to the campfire.

“Where are you going,” Ritter whispered loudly. He stole a glance down the trail. The women were drawing closer.

“Getting into my old Army dress uniform,” Moran called back before disappearing into the tent.

“But you were never in the Army for God sakes,” Ritter said, gritting his teeth. Ritter stole another glance down the trail. Hell, they were perhaps just one hundred yards away. In a few minutes, they’d be here. What the hell was he supposed to change into? The damn filthy blue jeans and sweatshirt he’d worn yesterday?

“Remember the old Boy Scout motto Jon?” Moran called out from inside the tent. “Be prepared.”

“You were never a Boy Scout,” Ritter screamed.


Waiting for Godot

10 Feb

Idleness and Wanderings

My dream job is to review movies for some cheap underground film magazine. Think of it, hanging out in second-run movie houses in sketchy sections of downtown cities, my pack of black market Turkish unfiltered cigarettes rolled up into the upper arm of my tie-dyed t-shirt, my beret pulled low on my head. Meanwhile, up on the silver screen, a blonde scantily clad Swedish babe astride a motorcycle – doing her Kerouac thing – roaring off into the Scandinavian wilderness, subtitles keeping me abreast (pun intended) of the action. Afterwards, hanging out in coffee houses, discussing the merits of the films of Bergman, Truffaut with like-minded bohemian sorts – awaiting Godot. Being idle, getting bored, wondering in God’s name where our lives are going, only to be admonished by J.R.: “There is something heroic about casting off real jobs, middle class trappings and doing our thing dudes. Believe me when I say, Godot will arrive.” Ah … J.R., the wise and wonderful J.R., pacing before us like a fire and brimstone preacher, his eyes aglow, stabbing the air with his pipe to drive home the more salient points of his diatribe against 401(k) plans, respectable jobs and neckties. “Those things were created to strangle mankind,” he screams, flinging the pipe into the wall, his piercing eyes now narrowing in on the bespectacled Ralph, shaking him to the very core of his being. But of course, this is all a preliminary, a warm-up, don’t you see, to the debate to follow. Fred M. and the great J.R. will once again lock horns, get down and dirty to argue about life and love and the whole of existence. “As soon as that S.O.B. gets here, you guys will see what I’m trying to say.”


A couple of baseball books to start the season

31 Mar



Can’t get enough baseball? When you get done watching your favorite team on Opening Day will you still be hungry for more baseball?.

There’s always plenty of books on the national pastime. Some of my favorites include “A False Spring” and “Dynasty.”

“A False Spring” is Pat Jordan’s mostly autobiographical book of his minor league days as a struggling pitcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jordan was a flame-throwing right-hander who got a nice bonus from the Milwaukee Braves, but unfortunately was unable to fulfill his promise.

Jordan’s story isn’t a particularly happy one, but it’s interesting how he tries to make sense of how it all went wrong. And Jordan paints just marvelous descriptions of some of the backwater bush league towns where he spent lonely summers of his late adolescence learning about himself and struggling with his baseball life.  .

“Dynasty” was Peter Golenbock’s first baseball book, and it was a gem. It covers the great era of the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1964 when the Bronx Bombers were truly a dynasty. Golenbock traces each of the seasons and later catches up with the ballplayers, and not just the stars such as Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, but the mostly forgotten players as well.

Anyway, those are just two books I would recommend among dozens of others you can read. Hey. It’s great to have spring here finally and another baseball season. Now let’s play ball.


Writing a book is therapy … and safer than drugs

7 Mar

Those days when you’re feeling lousy just might be the best times to go to the keyboard and write that book.

Now why in the name of Truman Capote would I say that?

Well, for one thing, it will get your mind off the fact that you’re feeling miserable. Besides, you need to be writing anyway – just about every day – if you’re serious, really serious about ever completing a book.

Think about it. If you can write on the days you’d rather stay in bed until past noon or get in the car and drive across the country and never come back, you can certainly write on those other days, when you feel great and can’t wait to race those fingers across that keyboard.

I know it’s worked for me.

A number of years ago, after I lost a job and went into a anxiety-ridden period, including panic attacks and the whole shebang, I began writing my first book. It never got published, but that’s another story, as they say. It was late November, the weather was  lousy in Pennsylvania and wouldn’t get better for months, and as I mentioned, there was no work to go to. I suddenly had this time on my hands – a lot of it. For years, I’d dreamed of writing a book, and I figured what better time to begin.

I wrote every damn day in long-hand in a spiral notebook. I wanted to get my story down, and I did. The writing was wonderful therapy as it threw my mind off the troubling thoughts that were dancing around in my head most of the rest of the day, when I otherwise faced all this empty time to fill.

So, if you don’t think now is a good time to write a book. If you figure there’s too many other things swirling about in your life for you to get yourself together enough to write, think again. It just might be the best time for you to begin a story.

Again, if you can write during the bad times, you can certainly write during the good times.
Remember, there’s no way in hell you’re going to feel good every day anyway. Nobody feels as if they’re flying on air all the time. And guess what else? Writing through the bad times just might give you something to make you feel better every day.

Try it. You might like it. And it’s safer than drugs.