Saturday, September 21, 2013

Naperville Sun Interview with William Hazelgrove on The Pitcher

William Hazelgrove hopes to have a major league hit to contend with in his latest novel, “The Pitcher.” Described as a “classic story of baseball, the price of dreams and the lessons of life,” it’s the fifth book written by the 1977 Naperville Central High School graduate.
“‘The Pitcher’ took about three years (to write),” said Hazelgrove, 53. “It is the story of a Mexican-American boy with a golden arm and a broken down World Series pitcher who coaches him to make the high school team.”
Hazelgrove, of St. Charles, was fresh out of graduate school at Western Illinois University when he penned his first book.
“My first year out of grad school I did something very strange,” he said. “I wrote a novel. I never thought about becoming a writer, but I was a big reader, and I just thought it was something I could do.”
Inspired by books like S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” his writing career began.
“I remember reading ‘The Outsiders’ the first time,” the author said. “I will never forget the opening scene. It made me want to write a novel like that.”
“Ripples,” “Tobacco Sticks,” “Mica Highways” and “Rocket Man,” preceded “The Pitcher,” which was released this month.
The author said he found his inspiration for “The Pitcher” during a trip to Florida.
“I came up with it after meeting an old World Series pitcher who had retired and sat in his garage all day listening to ball games,” Hazelgrove said. “I had been (an) assistant coach for my son for years — a pitcher — so I wanted to get my arms around the whole thing of kids’ sports and how money affects who will play because they get all the lessons.”
The book recently was recommended by the Junior Library Guild’s editorial team, and accolades continue to roll in. And on Oct. 17, he’ll return to his hometown for a book signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in downtown Naperville.
But he’s not resting on the success of “The Pitcher.”
“I have a book coming out in the spring called ‘One Up’ and then a book called ‘Real Santa’ out the following fall.”

Books by William Hazelgrove