Baseball, Softball, and Other Important Stuff

Photos by Monte Dutton

Photos by Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 29, 2016, 11:52 a.m.

It’s been a busy day. I’ve finally gotten the print version of my 2015 novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, out and available to the public. I might even get the new one, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, out by the end of the day.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Writing is what I do. It’s what I love. It might be the only thing I can do, as a practical matter to make ends meet, at this point in my illustrious career.

What I love isn’t layout, as the wretched years I spent doing that for a living attest. Now that this process is ending, and I’ve put out a collection of short stories, Longer Songs, too, I can get back to finishing my modern western, Cowboys Come Home, finished.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The reason Crazy and Trespasses were originally published as Kindle books — let me hasten to add that it doesn’t mean one has to have a Kindle to read it, thanks to the miracle of free apps for iThings and other cell phones and tablets — was that Amazon’s KindleScout program provided money up front. I retain the rights to the print versions, and by using another miracle, Amazon’s CreateSpace, by completing the layout and design of these books myself, I can get them published on demand and start making a little money month to month on their sales.

This isn’t the primary reason for this blog. It’s typical of me that I get past the digression in the fifth paragraph.

DSCF2804The playoffs have started. Last night wasn’t so much fun. Gaffney upended Laurens in the first round of Class 4A softball. A little Indian with a powerful right arm, Olivia Henson, beat the Raiders, 4-0, and Laurens didn’t help matters by playing poorly in the field. I’m very fond of LDHS’s folksy coach, Butch Clark, who, based on the final regular-season game, saw it coming. Last night he said his team couldn’t have beaten Hickory Tavern Little League, and when I suggested the tikes in Hickory Tavern, a crossroads most noted for used-car sales, might be insulted, he said he didn’t think they played Little League up there anymore.

Here’s my account of the game at

It’s double-elimination, so the Raiders get a chance to make some amends tonight against Mauldin.

DSCF2321I won’t be there. I’ll be at the field known locally and unofficially as The Sponge, which will be replaced next year by a new facility with a grass infield, to watch the Clinton High Red Devils (20-1) take on Daniel. Clinton won its region (currently III-3A) for the first time in 22 years, and, regardless of what happens from here, the season has been extraordinary.

These last few days, most which have been spent amid the aggravating trial and repeated error of book layout, have found me feeling quite a bit like a bucking horse getting out of his stall when I backed the trusty Dakota out of the garage.

DSCF2802I enjoy getting out to write about ballgames. The kids at CHS and LDHS are as interesting as the race drivers about whom I used to write. I enjoy travel to Laurens more than travel to, oh, Detroit, or Manchester, or, especially Philly, scene of many long days of loitering in the airport waiting for delayed flights. Some of it I miss. Talladega was always fun on and off the track, but life goes on, and now I write books, but the fact that I still like writing sports is obvious given all these blogs I still crank out.

All I miss writing about NASCAR at home is seeing the delightful disorder in person.

Dale Earnhardt, last of the red-hot racers, 1978. (File photo)

Dale Earnhardt, last of the red-hot racers, 1978. (File photo)

The disappointment of the Raiders’ softball loss was assuaged by the fun of chatting with LDHS athletics director Mark Freeze on the landing at the top of the stairs outside the press box and trading old stories about Dale Earnhardt and others. Freeze is a lifelong racing fan who seems today to be like all the others I encounter.

Man, I used to go to races all the time. I never missed one at Charlotte, or Rockingham, or North Wilkesboro, and I went to them at Talladega till they started running in the fall while I had school to teach. On Sunday, I didn’t even watch the race on TV. I didn’t think about it, to tell the truth.

One doesn’t get that perspective at the track, surrounded by those who still follow NASCAR and are perplexed, mystified, and damn near crestfallen — it’s what happens when Hillcrest loses — that there still aren’t 150,000 in the stands and 40 million watching on TV.

Come to the country. They’re all playing a different tune nowadays. NASCAR’s angriest detractors are the folks who go to the dirt track on Saturday nights.

Josh. Full of mischief.

Josh. Full of mischief.

I wouldn’t be averse to a trip to Laurens County Speedway this Saturday night, but I’m obligated to watch the Columbia Fireflies play the Kannapolis Intimidators with my niece’s three delightful, fun-loving little boys — Alex, Anthony, and Josh — amidst all the bedlam that such activities imply.


(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Longer_Songs_Cover_for_KindleMy book of short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, is called Longer Songs, and you can buy it here.

The Audacity of Dope is a tale about a pot-smoking singer-songwriter who becomes a reluctant national hero. He prevents someone from blowing up the plane he’s on, and both hilarity and drama ensue. My first novel is an irreverent, fun read.

The Intangibles is my most personal. Set mostly in 1968, it draws on memories from my childhood and teen-aged years. It’s a story of civil rights, bigotry, and high school football.

Crazy of Natural Causes has a main character who is an outrageous football coach at the beginning, loses everything and has to start over. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a yarn about a corrupt, ambitious politician who wants to be governor and will do anything to achieve it. It has a parallel story of a good cop who’s trying to stop the monster and another of kids gone wild.

To peruse all my books, including most of the non-fiction ones from my NASCAR years, click here.


About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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2 Responses to Baseball, Softball, and Other Important Stuff

  1. Bobi says:

    I agree with Mark. And I enjoyed your tipping point column (but I can’t comment over there.) I’m still watching NASCAR but mostly due to habit, lost my passion for awhile back.

  2. Monte says:

    Thanks, as always, for reading me.

Comments are closed.