Best New Writing 2011 On Sale Now

27 09 2010

Jim Musgrave’s award-winning story, “Letter to the President of the United States,” appears along with 15 other excellent stories in this year’s Eric Hoffer Award Winners.  You can purchase a copy online today.

Jim’s story is a psychological drama that takes place at the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003.  An Iraqi engineer who worked for Saddam Hussein has lost his memory due to traumatic events, and a U. S. Marine Sergeant and Arab-American translator gets his psychiatrist father to assist him in recovering the engineer’s memory along with what might be called his “soul.”


Girl Pitches Two Perfect Games with Her Knuckler

22 08 2010

Jim Musgrave’s fictional Dipsy Izzie in “The Mayan Magician” is perhaps become real.  Here’s a young lass who is giving fits to young boys because of knuckleball control.

(CNN) — A young baseball phenom has received one of the sport’s highest honors — recognition from the National Baseball Hall of Fame for pitching not one, but two perfect games.

And while a perfect game — defined as one in which the pitcher allows no hits and no walks — is a rare occurrence for the sport, what makes this 13-year-old pitcher’s feat even more impressive is that she did it against the boys.

Yes, she.

Chelsea Baker, once a student of former major league pitcher Joe Niekro, last week donated the jersey she wore to pitch one of those special games to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The jersey will be part of an exhibit dedicated to the importance of women in the sport, according to the museum.

Chelsea, who until recently honed her pitching arm in Plant City, Florida’s Little League program, told CNN Sunday that she feels “really honored and blessed” to be recognized on a national level at such an early age.

In addition to her Hall of Fame achievement, Chelsea was also recently featured on ESPN’s “E:60” series.

Chelsea, who says she has been pitching since she was 7 years old, boasts a fastball in the mid-60s (miles per hour) and a baffling knuckleball that has been known to make her male opponents shed a tear.

“Yeah, when I strike them out with the knuckleball, sometimes they’ll throw their helmets and start crying,” she laughs. “It’s just really funny to watch.”

It’s a pitch that was perfected with help from Niekro, who was her team’s batting pitcher before his death in 2006.

“He would always throw it to us and I could never hit it, and so I’d always beg him to teach it to me and finally one day he just taught it to me,” she says.

The knuckleball has helped propel Chelsea through four seasons without a loss with her Brandon Farms team — and her batting average isn’t bad either, hitting over .600 this season, though she notes “I like pitching more than batting.”

Chelsea is now participating in Baseball for All — an organization that advocates for women in the sport — playing on a touring all-girls team made up of players from around the country.

And Chelsea says her career is only getting started.

“I want to play baseball for as long as I can,” she says. “I want to play high school baseball and then I also want to play on the USA girls’ travel baseball team.”

Watch out, boys.

Knuckleballing Woman Makes the CBS Evening News!

15 07 2010

Just as in Jim Musgrave’s novelette, a woman has broken into the ranks of professional baseball with a dazzling butterfly pitch!  Watch her on the CBS News.

(AP)  Eri Yoshida bounced off the mound with an ear-to-ear smile, looking every bit like an 18-year-old who had just graduated high school and was enjoying a new country.

It was what she did on the pitcher’s mound – and in the batter’s box – that set Yoshida apart.

Becoming the first woman to pitch professionally in the United States in a decade, Yoshida showed that she and her sidearm knuckler can hang with the men.

The “Knuckle Princess” was unfazed when a former major leaguer opened the game by bunting for a hit. She had a few knucklers that danced almost as much as those of her idol, Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox. She pitched a scoreless first inning in her debut for the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League, before struggling a bit by allowing four runs in her final two frames.

But all in all, the debut was a success, especially considering she hit an RBI single in her only at-bat against David Rivas of the Tijuana Cimarrones. That led to a standing ovation from the near sellout crowd on “Girl Power Night.” Even her teammates got caught up in the excitement, taking pictures of Yoshida standing on first after her bases-loaded single through the hole between first and second.

Yoshida is the first woman since Ila Borders in 2000 to play professionally in the United States. The 5-foot-1, 115-pound Yoshida is also the first woman to play professionally in two countries, having pitched last year in an independent league in Japan.

Yoshida got off to a much better debut than Borders did in her first game in 1997, when she failed to retire any of the three batters she faced for the Saint Paul Saints of the Northern League. Borders pitched four years in independent leagues, ending her career in 2000.

After former San Francisco Giants infielder Ivan Ochoa led off the game by bunting for a single, drawing jeers from the crowd, Yoshida settled down and kept Tijuana off-balance with a sidearm knuckleball that usually registers in the 50 mph range.

She got Erold Andrus on a foul pop behind home plate before inducing former Yankees bonus baby Jackson Melian to ground into an inning-ending double play. Yoshida hopped off the mound in excitement after the nine-pitch inning and exchanged high-fives with her teammates in the dugout with a huge smile plastered on her teenage face.

She fared better in her second encounter with a former major leaguer, getting Juan Melo to pop out to second base to open the second inning. She then got another former major leaguer, Kit Pellow, on a fly out to left before hitting Carlos Lopez with a pitch in the back. Juan Velasquez followed with a two-run homer for the first runs off Yoshida.

(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Eri Yoshida (left) is congratulated by her catcher Mike Rose after making her U.S. professional debut pitching for the Chico Outlaws, May 29, 2010.

She didn’t fare as well her second time through the order as the Tijuana players showed more patience. With two outs and nobody on in the third, she allowed three hits and a walk to her final four hitters. She got out of the inning when Melo was thrown out trying to score from second on a single to left by Pellow.

That ended the night for Yoshida. She allowed five hits, four runs and one walk in three innings, throwing 47 pitches on the night.

Spurred by the interest in Yoshida, the Outlaws are streaming all of their home games live on the Internet this season. About 25 media outlets were credentialed for the game and the team drew a much larger crowd than usual Saturday.

Mika Kuriyama, a Chico State alum from San Leandro in the Bay Area, made the three-hour-plus drive to take her 5-year-old daughter Hannah to the game. Hannah was decked out in a kimono and held a sign for the “Knuckle Princess.”

“I admire her,” Kuriyama said of Yoshida. “It takes a lot of guts to come out here and pitch. I really admire her. I wanted my daughter to be able to see that.”

Yoshida learned to throw the knuckleball as a young girl by watching Wakefield. She taught herself the pitch and never had any formal coaching for how to throw the knuckler until meeting her idol during spring training in Florida earlier this year.

Yoshida became Japan’s first female pro baseball player last year when she pitched for the Kobe Cruise 9 in the Kansai Independent League. She was 0-2 in 11 appearances with a 4.03 ERA in 10 2-3 innings.

She then went to the Arizona Winter League this past offseason, where her manager on the Yuma Scorpions was former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mike Marshall. She went 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA in Arizona and impressed Marshall enough to get a shot in Chico, where Marshall is the president and general manager.

Marshall said he has no doubt Yoshida has the makeup to handle this historic challenge. He said the biggest factor in determining how far she will be able to take it will be how much stronger she gets in the next few years.

“There’s going to be a draft here in a couple weeks and there’s probably only a handful of 18-year-old high school kids who are going to get drafted who could come here and play. Men,” Marshall said. “Look at the rosters. You have Double-A, Triple-A, big-league guys. This isn’t affiliated rookie ball; this isn’t affiliated A-ball. This is way up there. These are 25- to 35-year-old men she’s playing against.”

Despite the disparity in age, experience, gender and cultural upbringing, Yoshida is fitting in well with her new team. Manager Garry Templeton, an admitted skeptic when he first saw her pitch this winter, said the players missed her when she didn’t make a season-opening road trip to Mexico.

He said Yoshida has been taken to kangaroo court, where she was fined a dollar, like all newcomers to the court. The only special treatment she gets is separate locker room facilities to change in and her own hotel room on the road.

“They’re protective of her,” Templeton said. “She blends in well. She’s just a ballplayer. They see her as a ballplayer, not as a girl.”

Jim Musgrave’s Story Makes Hoffer Award Short List

7 07 2010

Eric Hoffer Prose Award Short List

As the annual judging draws to a close, a small set of grand prize award finalists is announced for the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose. This small list or “short list” of finalists is an honored distinction of its own and is announced publicly during the summer of each award year. Below are the current short-listed entries in alphabetical order by author:

Jim Musgrave, “Letter to the President of the United States of America”
Deborah Rise McMenamy, “Love, Like Stew”
Adam King, “Outer Spaces”
Talia Carner, “The Maidens and the Messiah”
Beverly Akerman, “The Sea of Tranquility”
Rachel Maczuzak, “Wasted”

Story Selected for Publication in Best New Writing 2011

12 06 2010

Jim Musgrave’s short story, “Letter to the President of the United States,” has been chosen from over 2,000 entries and will appear with 15 other stories in the upcoming Fall anthology, Best New Writing 2011In addition, the story is still being considered for the first place award and three editor’s choice awards.

Jim’s story is a psychological drama that takes place at the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003.  An Iraqi engineer who worked for Saddam Hussein has lost his memory due to traumatic events, and a U. S. Marine Sergeant and Arab-American translator gets his psychiatrist father to assist him in recovering the engineer’s memory along with what might be called his “soul.”

Joe Niekro’s Knuckleball Lives on in Twelve-Year-Old Girl

4 05 2010

Perhaps we now have a future American version of Dipsie Izzie, the Mayan Magician.  Shortly before his death, in 2006, Joe Niekro taught this little girl how to throw his famous knuckler.

Story Selected as Finalist

25 04 2010

Out of the thousands of entries, Jim Musgrave’s short story, “Letter to the President of the United States,” has been chosen as a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Fiction Contest.  The short list will be announced this summer, 2010, and will be published in the book of award winners in the Fall.