Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Erica Westly's "Fastpitch"

Erica Westly is a journalist and author currently based in Tucson, Arizona. She has a MS in neuroscience and a MA in journalism, and has written articles for Popular Science, Slate, the New York Times, and other publications.

Westly applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game, and reported the following:
Page 99 of the book falls near the end of Chapter 7, which is primarily about the economics of fastpitch softball and amateur sports, in general, in the 1950s. This particular page concerns a women's fastpitch team from Fresno, California, called the Rockets. They're not the main team discussed in the book, but they do arguably represent the spirit of the fastpitch story. There were hundreds of thousands of men's and women's fastpitch teams in the '50s. At the time, fastpitch was the dominant form of softball, and every town seemed to have competitive teams. Most were sponsored by local businesses and civic groups, such as the Lions Club.

The best teams tended to be sponsored by large companies, such as Caterpillar and Dow Chemical, which attracted top players by offering them jobs and travel perks, such as flying to long-distance games instead of driving. The Fresno Rockets were an exception to this rule, however. They succeeded at the highest level, winning three national championships, despite having hardly any money or even a consistent sponsor. As chronicled on page 99, the players traveled to long-distance games in their own vehicles, often driving through the night instead of staying at hotels in order to save money. They juggled the often-grueling softball schedule with full-time jobs that weren't always that accommodating. One player became a serial job-leaver, deciding that she'd rather be unemployed than miss a single softball game. Other teams may have won more trophies and received more media coverage, but it was hard to beat the Fresno Rockets when it came to talent, dedication, and grit.
Visit Erica Westly's website.

Writers Read: Erica Westly.

--Marshal Zeringue