The Bridgeport Hammer
by Jonathan Weeks
“As you would have the right to expect from any book about a baseball-playing spy narrated by the all-time record holder for most passed balls in a single game, The Bridgeport Hammer is a delight.
Jonathan Weeks’ tale of baseball during wartime lovingly gets all the details of the old ballgame right, and does so while spiriting the reader through a fascinating tale of journeymen, espionage, and one unforgettably goofy pitch.
Add “the bumpus” of the mysterious rookie Emmett Drexler to the great notions in baseball lore, and add The Bridgeport Hammer to your shelf of baseball classics.” – Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods
I headed down the runway to the locker room below, which was dimly lit and smelled of stale sweat. It didn’t take me long to locate the lush. He was sitting on a bench in the corner amidst a pile of empty beer bottles. I was instantly torn between sympathy and disgust. Bradley had been one of the premier sluggers of the 1930s. He had graced the covers of magazines, appeared on billboards and had even been to the White House for dinner. Now he was little more than a street bum. Worse yet, he seemed to be hurrying his own decline, as if he just wanted his career to be over with. When I thought of all the guys who would never find success in the majors despite years of hard work, I couldn’t help feeling a little resentful of him.
“Jesus, Huck, you couldn’t wait until after the game?”
I tried not to sound bitter, but doubt I pulled it off. Bradley sat up on the bench all glassy-eyed.
“What’s the difference? They’re not gonna play me anyway.”
“Wrong,” I told him. “Hell just froze over. Two on and two out in the ninth. Skip wants you to hit.”
“You have to. Especially tonight. Everyone is counting on you.”
“Who cares? You think I don’t know what people say about me? A few years ago, I was sitting on top of the world. Now I’m a joke. Everyone loves you when you’re knocking ‘em outta the park. When you’re not, you’re just a sorry sack-a-shit.”
I felt for him. I really did. Every ballplayer knows there will come a time when he just can’t cut it anymore. But there were far more graceful ways to go out than the path Bradley had chosen.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” I scolded him. “It’s time to spit in the face of anyone who ever doubted you. You know as well as I do that you deserve to be in a better place right now. Show ‘em that they’re wrong about you. Prove it to yourself.”
He stared at me for a long moment with a blank expression. I wasn’t sure if I had reached him. You could hear the fans above clamoring for something to happen. Finally, Bradley climbed to his feet and shuffled past me toward the runway. He patted me once on the shoulder as he did.
1. Where does your inspiration come from?
You can’t have output without input. I started reading comic books at a very young age and graduated to novels by the time I was eight or nine. The first full length book I read was Treasure Island. It’s one of my all time favorites. I’ve always been a fan of movies and television too.
Nowadays, it seems that some of the shows on TV are better than the movies in theaters. I admit that I’m a bit of a TV addict. I have nine or ten shows I follow closely. In particular, I’m hooked on Bates Motel and Vikings. I’ve been streaming episodes of Breaking Bad. Love it!
2. Would you ever want to change genres and if so what would you like to experiment with?
As a matter of fact, I’m already working on that. I’ve got a middle grade children’s book in progress that blends baseball with elements of the supernatural. Aside from sports and historical fiction, I’ve always been partial to thrillers and paranormal topics. I have a rough idea for a historical horror novel. I’ll be starting my research as soon as I finish the project I’m currently working on.
3. Are your characters/ideas drawn from people that you know personally in any way?
I almost always write myself and the people I have known into my fiction somehow. It’s not something I do on purpose. It just happens. There’s no better way to create a convincing storyline than to draw from personal experience. Writing first person narratives is a subconscious form of wish fulfillment for me. A lot of my characters mysteriously end up with desirable attributes that I lack.
4. Where would you like to be in 10 years with life or career?
I’ve never been very good at looking down the road. I just want my two daughters to be happy and healthy. That’s my first priority. As for myself, I’m pretty easy to please. I’ve always enjoyed the simple things in life. I never wanted to be a famous author. I just wanted to be published.
5. What book or books are you reading now?
I just started Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I have some fun books lined up for the summer: Hollow City (Book #2 of Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) and Skin Game (Book #15 of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series) among others. Anyone interested in my selections can check out my author page at Goodreads. You can even send me a friend request. I rarely turn them down.
6. What do you do with your free-time when you are not writing or brain-storming?
I spend a lot of time with my two daughters—ages seven and eleven. They’re a lot of fun to be around. For adult activities, I go to movies, rock concerts and pro sporting events when I can.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been attending Comicon in Montreal, which combines Sci-Fi and Horror. I don’t dress up for it, but it’s fun to see others in costume. Some people put a lot of work into it. One of the featured guests this year is producer/ director George Romero. I’m looking forward to possibly meeting him.
7. What is your fondest memory from childhood that left an impact on your life?
I had a pretty good childhood and it’s hard to rank-order my memories. A lot of my flashbulb memories are associated with early sports experiences. I played Little League for a couple of years and was also involved with various YMCA sports leagues. I was one heck of a floor hockey player back in the day. Playing sports taught me a lot about being part of a team effort and about standing up for myself. A lot of kids are mean and you’ve got to hang tough if you want to succeed.
Weeks spent thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures ever since.
A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era) is being released in the summer of 2014.
He writes about the game because he lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or lay off the high heat.
Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com
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