I’ve written earlier about how I came to love baseball (after coming to love my husband, who loves baseball.) Despite learning the rules of the game and following the win-loss records of various teams, though, I wasn’t a true baseball fan until I had a favorite player.
My first favorite player (and yes, there are many — these guys retire, after all, and a trufan should always have a favorite active player) was Jason Varitek. He played for the Boston Red Sox (the team most often watched in our house, in those pre-Washington-Nationals days…) He was a strong switch-hitter, able to bat from either side of the plate, depending on whether the pitcher he faced was left- or right-handed. He was captain of his team, a leader of men. And he was a catcher.
In fact, Varitek was the first catcher who became a favorite player of mine. There’s something about those guys… It’s not just that they have a strength I (with my wonky knees that ache after a five-mile walk) can only imagine, as they squat behind home plate inning after inning after inning. It’s not just that they take brutal abuse — hit by foul balls, drilled by wild pitches, hammered by the occasional mis-swung bat — and keep coming back for more. It’s not just that they call the game, determining which pitches are most likely to get out which batters and signalling for the pitcher to throw that specific pitch at that specific point in time. It’s not just that they are responsible for keeping the pitcher’s head in the game, for walking out to the mound to settle an anxious guy on the mound, to reset his brain and get him back on track.
It’s all those things and more. Catchers are the linchpin of their teams (a metaphor that springs from a literal linchpin — the pin that passes through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in place.)
So with my history of soft spots for catchers, it should hardly be surprising that Zachary Ormond is my favorite hero of the Diamond Brides Series. In Catching Hell (new in our bookstore today!) Zach is old for a baseball player — thirty-seven. He’s played hard and suffered injuries, and he’s beginning to think about his well-earned retirement from the only team he’s ever loved. He’s not a pushover — he fought hard for a no-trade clause, so that his Raleigh Rockets can’t send him out to pasture with another team.
But the Rockets need a new hitter, and they need him fast. The only way they can save the team is if Anna Benson, the team’s acting owner, can convince Zach to forfeit his no-trade clause. And that might be a hell of a lot easier to do if Anna hadn’t had a crush on Zach from the very first day she met him, when she was little more than a child.
The Diamond Brides romances are all about heroes. And Zach is my personal ideal of a baseball hero. I hope you’ll enjoy reading his story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Do you follow sports? Do you have a sports hero? If not, who is the most unlikely hero you ever found yourself focused on?