Friday, June 01, 2007

In the news

I released When Towns Had Teams in September, 2005. Now, almost two years later, people are still discovering the book, which has become the quintessential book on Maine baseball history.

Matt DiFilippo, a sportswriter for the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, in Central Maine and a fellow SABR member, had received a "tip" from a Kiwanis member in Augusta, also a member of SABR that I was speaking at their noon luncheon. DiFilippo sent me an email and we arranged a phone interview.

We had a nice chat Monday night, with DiFilippo saying he hoped to run a short story about my talk, which happened yesterday, prior to the event.

With everything else happening with RiverVision Press and the launch of a new book, I forgot about it. My boss came in yesterday morning and said, "Baumer, I didn't know you were so famous."

Apparently, I was front page news on the sports pages of the KJ, yesterday morning. DiFilippo filed a nice advance article and my talk at the Kiwanis Club, in Augusta saw about 60 people in attendance. I had a good time, got to give one more talk on my book and local baseball in Maine and even sold a few books. I've posted DiFilippo's article below, in case the link goes down at some point.

Maine author speaking in Augusta
Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel

By MATT DiFILIPPO
Staff Writer

When Jim Baumer was growing up in Lisbon Falls in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it seemed every town had its own baseball team.

"I got to thinking, 'What ever happened to all the baseball?' " Baumer said.

That thought and more than 40 interviews later, Baumer had self-published a book, "When Towns Had Teams," which covers town baseball from the World War II era to the demise of town baseball. Baumer will be speaking about baseball and his book at noon today at the Kiwanis Club in Augusta.

Much of Baumer's passion for his subject comes from his own memories. He remembers going to Pettengill Park in Auburn to see teams from all over the state play in the Yankee Amateur Baseball Congress tournament.

"This was '71, '72," said Baumer, who lives in Durham and is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. "You would still have, on a weekend, two or three thousand people coming out to these baseball games."

Baumer, 45, said his book validates the stories that the players on town teams have told their children. He learned how proud the players were about their accomplishments when he sat down and talked to them.

"They remember these games 40 years ago like they were yesterday," Baumer said. "I would go ask one or two questions and they'd talk for 2 1/2, 3 hours."

Like many Mainers, Baumer feels that "coming to Maine was almost like stepping back through a window in time" and laments that it is not that way anymore. In a sense, Baumer's book helps capture the time when it was true.

"A lot of people who have read the book have told me that it's very much a baseball book, but it's also a book about small-town Maine," Baumer said. "It's a book about a Maine that, if it hasn't disappeared, it's very close to being gone.

"Part of it is the way society's changed. We don't go to our local drugstores anymore. We go to Wal-Mart, or we go to box stores."

Baumer started a company, RiverVision Press, to publish his book, and has branched out to help other Maine authors. A book by T.W. Moore of Buxton, "I Love Today -- Musings from New England," which will be released June 14. A Q&A on the company's Web site says, "We endeavor to be a publisher that releases a small number of books each year, intended for a specific audience."

"I feel like there's an awful lot of very talented writers in Maine who don't have a lot of options for getting their books out," Baumer said.

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