Tag Archives: book

Lopez reminisces about life Behind the Plate

Behind the Plate CoverJavy López looks forward to spending a couple of days in Birmingham this week, and not just because being back in town reminds him of the old days when he and the Greenville Braves were beating the Barons.

“We always did good against them, but there are a lot of Braves fans in Birmingham, no doubt,” the three-time All-Star catcher said, anticipating a visit to Regions Park to throw out the first pitch when the Barons host the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

The last time he played Birmingham was 1992, which he remembers as a very good year. “We were sick of winning that season,” he said with a laugh by phone from his home in Suwanee, Ga.

“We finished 106-42, won the (Southern League) championship, and then I got called up to the big leagues and went straight to the World Series.”

López has detailed his meteoric rise from the minors in his new book, Behind the Plate: A Catcher’s View of Braves Dynasty. He’ll greet fans and sign copies at Books-A-Million in Brookwood Village at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 6. The autobiography, compiled from interviews he did with sports journalist and Braves historian Gary Caruso, was published in April by Triumph Books.

“The book is for my family, fans, and friends who have constantly been asking me to write it,” López said. “Even my kids pushed me to do this. Fans who wonder what it takes to get to the big leagues and what occurs behind the scenes can find out, and my family can read it and learn a lot of things about me they didn’t know. There are things in the book that I’ve never talked about before.”

Not, he added, that a reader has to be a baseball or Atlanta Braves fan to appreciate López’ story, which begins with how he learned to play baseball on a neighborhood basketball court in Puerto Rico and continues through a difficult language barrier and other struggles on his way to the major league record of 42 home runs in a season by a catcher. It also includes being named MVP of the 1996 National League Championship Series, playing on 11 of the Braves’ 14 straight division-winning teams, and how, after spending two seasons with the Orioles and Red Sox, he dealt with a failed comeback attempt with Atlanta four years ago.

“The book can teach anybody what it takes to get what they’re looking for in life,” he said. “It was hard for me to make it. I had to go through a lot of barriers and overcome a lot. It wasn’t easy to get to my goal, but what helped me get to it can help someone else get to theirs, whether they’re a baseball or Braves fan or not.”

López remains associated with the Braves organization and still has vivid memories of his first season on the roster. “When I got called up, (Atlanta) was already on fire. The Braves had gone from worst to first the season before, and everybody was pumped up. That’s what I came into as we were going into the World Series. Some guys play their whole careers and never make it to the playoffs. To go straight from the minors to the World Series was an amazing experience.”

So was catching Kent Mercker’s no-hitter against the Dodgers in 1994.

López wasn’t having a good day at the plate. Midway through the game, he was 0-4 and had struck out three times. “I was so furious because I was struggling offensively that I didn’t pay attention to what Kent was doing. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that I realized, ‘Wait a second. We’ve got something going on here.’

He had one more at bat, a fly ball for an easy out. “I didn’t even care any more. All I wanted at that point was to get that no-hitter done.”

López has filled his memoir with such stories and said that readers expecting accounts of contention and scandal are likely to be disappointed. “For some reason, people find controversy interesting, but this book is just good old baseball stories.”

Susannah Felts’ new book drops tomorrow

This will go down on your Permanent Record bookcoverTomorrow night at 7 p.m., you can find Susannah Felts at The Bottletree reading and signing her new book This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record. The book is all about developing an identity as an artist among the culture of the New South. In anticipation of the book’s release I traded a few emails with Felts, to see what all the buzz was about…

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Murder in the Magic City

Tomorrow, the Homewood Library hosts the 2008 mystery fan conference menacingly monikered Murder in the Magic City. The door open at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. The cost is $45 and includes lunch (for those with reservations), drinks, snacks and a “goody bag”. Because of limited seating they have been encouraging reservations, but I am told a few walk-up seats are still available.

The all day event includes a panel discussion, a special session with award-winning author Donna Andrews and book signings. What’s cool is that fans can bring their own books from home to have signed by the authors present (a complete list of which is here).

trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.

Greencup Books opens tomorrow

This Friday, February 8th, at 2 p.m., Birmingham’s newest used bookstore opens its doors to the public. This grand-opening of Greencup Books, located in an old two-story brick building at 105 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., South (next to Bare Hands Gallery), includes a kick-off event featuring a signing with Tony Crunk and artist Peter Wilm, who will be there at 7 p.m. to promote their book project Stories from Real Life, which is Greencup Books first publishing project.

Owner and publisher Russell Helms says opening a business that published books and art, as well as sell it, is something that he hopes will spur new ideas within the revitalized Southside area.

“It’s all about building community and supporting creativity “at any cost”, says Helms. “If you need a creative boost, just spending half an hour with us should do the trick. Ideas and original thoughts are guaranteed. We have books, books, books, and lots of cool art from Bare Hands Gallery. We exist to spur creativity. People can expect whatever they are looking for, and more!”

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Looking through the lens of Birmingham books

Birmingham book Collection
Special to The Terminal.

It is no secret that Birmingham’s history is one filled with infamous people and colorful events. It’s also one that has been well documented in the pages of books. But books don’t always survive the decades and the ones that do often find themselves buried in the back of used bookstores or hidden away in a grandmother’s attic, until some kind soul stumbles upon these lost books, reads them. Plucking gems of local history from their pages. This a process that Birmingham-area native John Morse knows something about.

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Slamming in the ‘Ham

Ultimate Fighting Champion Matt Hughes is cruising through Birmingham tomorrow night. He’ll be at the Wildwood Shopping Center Books-A-Million location at 7 p.m. He’ll be ready to pose for pictures and will be signing his new book Made in America, which is loaded with tons of background information about his rise to dominance and dishes backstage happenings about one of the most explosive leagues in all of sportdom.

{trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.}

The Big Read’s Big Kick-Off

Today, the balloons were bought and the were cakes cut in honor of this year’s Big Read. Libraries across Birmingham have activities planned all day to help build awareness and participation in Project Mockingbird, which is the library systems push to get all of Jefferson County reading Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Think of it as “one county, one book” kind of a reading plan.

Events and features are planned all the way through this summer. Including a “Read it Forward” program where 1,500 copies of To Kill A Mockingbird will randomly be placed around the county, for people to stumble upon read and pass on.

You can keep up with the project here, and download free gfx, wallpaper and podcasts here. If you are wondering where the nearest launch party is today, check out the JCLC’s calendar page.

{trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.}