HAPPY ON-SALE DAY

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Today is the on-sale date for Steve Young’s autobiography QB: My Life Behind the Spiral. I’m in New York to accompany Steve on a full day of media interviews – Fox & Friends, USA Today, Mike Francesa on WFAN, Peter King’s podcast, The Rachael Ray Show, Sports Illustrated, the NFL Network, Yahoo! – and book signings at Bookends in New Jersey (tonight at 5:00 PM) and at Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue (tomorrow at noon).

One of the wonders of commercial publishing is the rollout. In synchronized fashion, clerks at bookstores across the country are opening boxes and putting books on the shelves; mail carriers are delivering Amazon packages to customers who pre-ordered on line; reviews start appearing. By tonight, commuters on trains, subways and airplanes will have their noses in QB.

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As a writer, I cherish days like this. As a father, however, I’m torn. Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my oldest son, Tennyson. At a train station in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, I said: “I love you.” Then I turned and ran for the train before starting to cry.

While I’m here in New York, he’s home, packing his bags for Utah. He’s moving there in a few days to start his first job since graduating from college. He’ll be gone by the time I get home at the end of the week.

It was surreal going through this past weekend filled with so much anticipation and dread. The book is the culmination of five years of work. The departure of my son marks the end of a 20-year journey from the cradle to adulthood. It’s sobering to realize we will now be minus one at home. The arithmetic only gets worse from here.

Knowing this was coming, we planned a perfect final weekend together. Saturday we spent the day doing New England things – cutting firewood in the woods, raking leaves, and replacing screen windows with storm windows.

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Sunday we planned to go to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox face the Indians in Game 3 of the American League playoffs. Both of my sons were born a few blocks from Fenway. They practically grew up there. Over the past 20 years I have never been to a ballgame without one or both of them.

With David Ortiz retiring, we determined to make a final pilgrimage to the old ballpark. Our other son Clancy, 16, was so excited for the game he special-ordered a horse head on Amazon Prime, figuring it would up his odds of getting on TV.

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It was raining when we left home for Boston. I knew the game would be cancelled. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to accept the inevitable. So we dressed for the game and headed to Boston, only to turn around part-way there when we heard on the radio that Major League Baseball had officially postponed the game until Monday.

That forced me to sell our tickets, since I had to be in New York on Monday night. I was miserable. Almost twelve years ago to the day – on Monday, October 18, 2004 – I took my boys to Game 5 of the American League Championship between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park. The game began at 5:11 PM and lasted 5 hours and 49 minutes, making it the longest postseason game in history up to that point. It ended when David Ortiz knocked in the winning run in the 14th inning. Something magical happened that day. And I’m not talking about the game. I’m talking about a bond that was formed with my sons. Sports can do that. I still remember hoisting them, hugging them, and high-fiving them when Ortiz established himself as the Yankee killer.

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But the scene at the train station yesterday afternoon was not celebratory. I don’t like saying good-bye. I didn’t want to board the train. I didn’t want to watch the Red Sox from a hotel room in New York City while my boys were watching at home. Not when it might be David Ortiz’s last game. There was more at stake than a ballgame.

The good news was that we established a group text titled “Red Sox v. Indians” and we communicated after just about every at-bat. When the Sox rallied in the eighth inning, one of the boys texted: “It’s Papi time.” When the Sox entered the bottom of the ninth still down by one, I texted: “Faith, boys. Faith.”

Of course, we all know that Cleveland won the game. I can live with that. Red Sox fans own the phrase – There’s always next year. But there won’t be another year with David Ortiz. Fittingly, his career ends in tandem with the end of an era in our family. Life is changing.

Thank goodness for QB going on sale today. It gives me a reason to smile. And I need that today.

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Jeff Benedict is a best selling author of 14 books and a television and film producer.  His latest book — QB: My Life Behind the Spiral (written with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young) was a New York Times bestseller. He is currently writing the biography of Tiger Woods. He is a producer on the forthcoming motion picture “Little Pink House,” starring Oscar-nominated Catherine Keener with music by David Crosby.  To book him for a speech or private event, contact Ellis Trevor at ellis@chartwellspeakers.com

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