It’s an American boyhood dream to play for a Main League Baseball workforce. For 2007 Elk River Excessive Faculty alum Greg Larson, that dream didn’t come true. As an alternative, he spent two seasons because the clubhouse attendant for the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Excessive-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles within the now defunct New York Penn League. Larson is an writer, editor, and humorist who lives in Austin, Texas.
Larson spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as Aberdeen’s clubhouse attendant. He was liable for duties like rubbing mud on baseballs earlier than video games. After spending two seasons because the IronBirds clubhouse attendant, Larson determined to take his experiences and switch it right into a memoir. “Clubbie: A Minor League Memoir” is the results of a number of years of writing, proofreading, modifying and rejection by publishers. The e-book can be launched on Thursday, April 1. The College of Nebraska Press is “Clubbie’s” writer. “Clubbie” initially began as Larson’s graduate college thesis at Previous Dominion College in Norfolk, Virginia. Larson graduated from Previous Dominion in 2017 with a M.F.A. diploma in artistic writing after incomes his B.A. in English with a focus in artistic writing from Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Larson mentioned he was rejected by the College of Nebraska Press as soon as earlier than they accepted what ended up changing into the bottom of the principle draft of “Clubbie” after he despatched greater than 200 question letters to different publishers.
“I love their baseball catalog,” Larson mentioned. “Yearly, they’ve wonderful baseball books. They have been on the highest of my checklist for publications that I used to be going for. They mentioned [the first draft] was too just like different baseball books like Pat Jordan’s “A False spring,” and “Ball 4” by Jim Bouton. I edited the manuscript. I didn’t consider it [the University of Nebraska Press’ acceptance of “Clubbie”] was actual till I had the contract in my palms and signed it. The method feels so just like making an attempt to change into an expert athlete. It’s stunning. Surreal is one of the simplest ways I can put it [into words].”
Larson began his collegiate profession at Hamline College in St. Paul, the place he was on the baseball workforce for about 48 hours earlier than being reduce by the Pipers. He transferred to Winthrop College on a Division I scholarship, however it was for being the tools supervisor. Larson mentioned he all the time thought he was going to have his “Rudy” second in faculty.
“They’re going to [say], ‘Oh, our beginning shortstop is down,” he mentioned. “Let’s get the tools supervisor, Greg Larson, in there. That was my solely job expertise popping out of school was being an tools supervisor. These jobs as a clubhouse attendant in skilled baseball don’t open up. They’re handed down from anyone’s nephew, anyone’s grandkid, for technology after technology.”
Larson grew up watching the Minnesota Twins, inspiring him to play baseball. His father, Rick Larson, performed for the Elk River Excessive Faculty baseball workforce within the late Sixties and graduated in 1968, incomes a scholarship to play for the College of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Greg adopted in his father’s footsteps and performed for the Elks as nicely. In his 2007 senior season, he batted .091.
Rick mentioned it’s been enjoyable studying drafts of Greg’s writing resembling “Clubbie.”
“I get to relive my childhood,” Rick mentioned. “One of many biggest elements of Greg’s writing has been that it’s been capable of return me to my roots associated to baseball and he’s all the time type of saved me younger as a result of he all the time needed to play ball.”
“Clubbie” is about Greg’s experiences because the IronBirds clubhouse attendant throughout the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In accordance with the outline of the e-book by the College of Nebraska Press, Larson, contemporary out of Winthrop College [before he attended Old Dominion University for graduate school], harbors a secret want to be a part of the workforce regardless of the workforce’s struggles, his personal lack of baseball expertise, and the negligence of the Orioles. Nevertheless, Greg falls deeper into his function because the scheming clubhouse attendant and strikes into the clubhouse tools closet, which he makes use of as his private workplace to make offers involving alcohol, IronBirds and Orioles merchandise, and enormous sums of money. By his second season, Greg reworked right into a misleading, dip-spitting veteran, now totally a part of a system that exploited gamers he thought-about buddies. He risked dropping the whole lot he cared about so as to chase his personal dream of changing into an expert ballplayer till an unlikely 2013 IronBirds postseason run offers him and Aberdeen a ultimate shot at redemption.
The IronBirds received the McNamara Division title in 2013 however misplaced within the first spherical two video games to none to the Tri-Metropolis Mud Devils, the Excessive-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. It was the primary and solely New York Penn League playoff look in IronBirds historical past.
Greg mentioned he realized midway by way of the 2012 season that his experiences may change into the premise for a e-book. From his first season in 2012 to the acceptance by the College of Nebraska Press in 2019, it took about seven years to put in writing the e-book.
“My preliminary notes from these two summers are 285 single-spaced pages,” Greg mentioned. “That’s the genesis of the writing course of. Then, I began writing the prose in 2015. The summer time of 2016, I went loopy and banged out 2,000 phrases a day [and] completed the primary draft. There’s like 96,000 phrases, despatched it to a bunch of editors they usually mentioned, ‘Lower it down. Lower it down.’ [I] lastly reduce it right down to 77,000 phrases in 2019, and that’s when the College of Nebraska Press mentioned, ‘OK, now we’re able to take it on.’”
Greg mentioned one of the attention-grabbing individuals within the e-book is IronBirds pitching coach Alan Mills. Mills performed 12 seasons in MLB for the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. He completed his profession with a report of 39-32 in 474 video games with an ERA of 4.12, 456 strikeouts and 15 saves.
“He and I have been the one workers members that got here again each seasons [2012 and 2013],” he mentioned. “We’d get into arguments on a regular basis. He was the pitching coach. He struck out Mark McGwire. He struck out Derek Jeter. I keep in mind on the very finish of the 2013 season, he let me go on the sphere and take batting follow with the workforce. I’m in a batting follow group with Trey Mancini, who’s now on the Orioles, Mike Yaztrzemski, who now performs for the San Francisco Giants, Jeff Kemp, who was our second baseman, and me. I used to be this skinny, pale-skinned quick man on the market and it felt like Mills was pitching me as if he needed so as to add Greg Larson to that illustrious checklist of strikeout victims together with McGwire, A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] and all these individuals. It’s this dynamic of, ‘You belong right here, however keep in mind, you are the man who bat .091 for the Elk River Elks your senior yr.’”
Greg mentioned retired Elk River Excessive Faculty English instructor Patty Prody impressed him to change into a author. He took a artistic writing class that was taught by her throughout his senior yr and she or he would let the category learn their tales on the finish of sophistication.
“That was enormous for me as a result of I didn’t know if I favored writing,” Greg mentioned. “I used to be ambivalent about writing usually and she or he would permit us to learn these tales. I keep in mind I learn these foolish haikus on the finish of sophistication and folks have been laughing at them. I used to be like, ‘Oh, I wish to chase that feeling.’ I’d write a brief story, and, ultimately, it grew to become this factor the place it was like she wouldn’t even ask me if I needed to learn. She would say, ‘Alright, Larson. You’re up.’ That’s what began me with getting to like writing usually and received me in love with stand-up comedy.
“There’s this one second [where] I advised her about my writing routine. I’d write in my journal at any time when I had random concepts. She checked out me sideways and mentioned, ‘You is likely to be a author, Larson.’ She taught me that writing could possibly be one thing critical, humorous and one thing that I may do for a residing, which was so mind-blowing to me that it [has] caught with me ever since.”
Prody mentioned she remembers Greg very nicely.
“At the same time as a highschool scholar, I may acknowledge when children had voice, and Greg had voice at an early age,” Prody mentioned. “His character got here out of his writing, loads of occasions humorous as a result of most teenage boys like humorous first, however he did develop a extra critical facet of him.”
Because the MLB common season approaches in April and as followers are tuned in as soon as once more to America’s nationwide pastime, Larson mentioned he needs “Clubbie” to be a reminiscence of not solely his previous life however of a league and way of life that not exists.
“I need them to grasp that there’s extra to baseball than simply the numbers of the gamers,” Larson mentioned. “There’s extra to baseball than what you see on a Main League Baseball discipline. There’s all of those guys with unbelievable tales within the minor leagues. Most of them aren’t going to make it [to MLB]. A part of the rationale I needed to put in writing this e-book was to inform a few of their tales of fellows who fought one another within the clubhouse with baseball bats over music arguments, guys who walked out of the sport in the course of the sport as a result of they weren’t getting taking part in time they usually received reduce from the workforce. I needed to inform these tales and I need individuals to know that, now matter how a lot we love baseball, it’s a posh sport and it’s a massive enterprise. It has all the points and constructive elements that include that.”