Tuesday, June 10, 2014


If you know anything about Bleeding Yankee Blue, you know that we started because I was yelling at the TV after a Yankee loss, and over the past 3 years, we've developed into something much bigger than that. Sure, we are Yankee fans here, but we are much more. We are baseball fans.  We are family and we love to interact with all of you on any given day to talk about everything from the New York Yankees, to family events to just plain life.  We are here to serve these days and we appreciate all of you checking in with us.  We are blessed. I will continue to Thank you.

I want to share with you a very good book. I was taken by this book about baseball and life.  It's called Getaway Day and it's written by Ken White.   It's a story about a 13 year old named Mikey Wright. His father has cancer and it's right then that he begins his true journey trying to save his father's life and along the way, learning about his own. Mikey has to learn about selflessness and the power of believing.   It's a truly wonderful story and I don't want to give too much away. I will tell you that you need to read it because it's a story that many families will feel are about them at one point or another.  It's touching, it sweet and it's the best book I've read this year.

I now introduce to you my interview with Ken White. Enjoy this... I did:
BYB: Ken, I write a lot about father, son relationships at Bleeding Yankee Blue and your story resonated with me very much. Tell the audience the importance of family and believing and why it's so important in people's lives.

(In Photo: Ken White and family, 1961)

Ken White: Family is a safety net and a bulwark. The unconditional love and support of parents and siblings gives us the encouragement, confidence, and protection to be who we were meant to be. I feel sorry for anyone who did not experience a nurturing, loving family life. I moved back home from a sabbatical in Hawaii to be close to my family because I missed them and enjoyed being around them. 

(In Photo: Ken White's Parents)
I remained close to my parents until they passed away. And I remain close with my siblings and their children. In his book, Dandelion Wine, author Ray Bradbury described an intact family as the real Happiness Machine. I believe that.

BYB: I say to my kids a lot, "Back in my day, we played ball until dark". My "day" was the 70s and the 80s. Tell the audience about the 60s and kids those days and why has it changed so much between then and now with kids, pickup games and baseball, or, has it?

Ken White: It has changed. Perhaps because there are more options and distractions. In the 60s, we didn’t have cell phones, video games, DVDs, or arcades. Television was still relatively new. There weren’t as many movies made and it was expensive to attend. Plus, our mothers wanted us out of the house. They wanted us to go outside and “get the stink off.” So, we were gone from dawn ‘til dusk. We had a park behind our house and that’s where you would find us. I see very few kids in my neighborhood playing outside, alone or together. It’s baffling and sad. We do have one neighborhood family that is a bit of a “throwback.” From the moment we first met them, we would always see the three boys outside. We knew exactly what sport had ended and what sport had just begun by what sport they were playing. It was encouraging to see that kind of love for the game.

BYB: I loved the Modesto twist in "Getaway Day", with the Yankees and Giants working out there because of the flood out in the Bay area. Very real. Bring us inside your heart and mind putting that portion of the book together, especially with Mikey Wright and his dedication to helping his father's dream come true.

Ken White: I was at the event on October 14, 1962. Every few years, on the anniversary, the Modesto Bee would do a story to remind us. When I began to write, I concentrated on stories about Modesto and the Central Valley. And, having played baseball and always been a fan of the Yankees and Giants, I wanted to write a story about this particular day. All I was lacking was the engine to drive the dramatic and fictional part of the story. I lost my best friend to stomach cancer nearly ten years ago. I realized I could combine those two experiences and write a story that honored baseball, my home town, a seminal year in my life, my family, and my best friend. But, I decided it was the father of my fictional character that would be battling cancer because it then also became a story about fathers and sons.

BYB: Cancer is a terrible disease and you see the maturity in Mikey helping his cancer stricken father. What can you tell everyone reading this that perhaps has had been in a similar situation like Mikey?

(In Photo: Wendell White, left and George Rogers)
Ken White: As I mentioned, my best friend died of cancer. This past January, my younger brother died of pancreatic cancer. So, I have been intimately involved with what cancer can do to a person and those who love them. It can be a very helpless, deadening feeling. And an inspiring one, as you watch these courageous people deal with what has happened to them and what they are facing. I was able to care for my friend during the last year of his life. My brother died too quickly for any of us to do much of anything. For me, the key was – and is – to be available. To remain upbeat and positive. To make them comfortable. To help them laugh. To be supportive. To not be angry. And to be as selfless as possible, which can be very difficult. And that is the life lesson Mikey learns in this book.

BYB: When I coach these days, I consider myself a throwback. No "travel team" mentality although, I like to be competitive with my teams. But, for me, it's about nurturing, teaching and allowing the kids to believe in themselves. Tell the audience about your coach interaction as a kid and if you see a difference today or not.

Ken White: I have had many different types of coaches in my life at several different levels, from Little League to competitive senior softball. And I have coached. Like you, I try to be competitive, but I do not believe in winning at any cost. And I also believe in teaching children about the game, teamwork, respect for themselves and others, as well as winning and losing graciously. I am involved with a local Little League program, so I get out to a few games each summer. And I still see the same spectrum of coaches and parents and players. I wish it were a little less competitive some times. In fact, I attended a “B” League championship game a few nights ago between the program I work with and the program from an elementary school I attended. It’s a very old rivalry between schools representing opposite ends of the economic spectrum. It was an exciting, well-played game. And it was no different than the games played 75 years ago when Little League started. Kids look up to their coaches, just like they look up to their dads. Unfortunately, sometimes, the coach must stand in for an absentee father. I just can’t imagine what that would be like.

BYB: What do you remember most about the 1962 World Series?

Ken White: Willie McCovey’s line drive that Bobby Richardson snagged for the final out. It was probably one of the most exciting finishes of any World Series ever played. And it still amazes me that the Giants’ team which played in that Series never returned to the World Series.

Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry are all in the Hall of Fame.

BYB: Tell the audience the most important thing you personally have taken away from a father and son relationship and how much different is it between and mother and son? Be specific.

(In Photo: Ken, his brother Tom and Father, 1954)

Ken White: I would like to quote from my book because I said it as well there as I can now:  For Baby Boomers who grew up when I did, it was up to the father to teach his son to be a man, to be tough in a cold, hard, unforgiving world. It was up to the mother to dress the wounds when that world kicked your butt. It was up to the father to provide qualified approval. It was up to the mother to provide unconditional love. It was up to the father to run alongside as you tried to ride your bike for the first time and shout encouragement as you did. It was up to the mother to stand on the sideline frightened you’d fall, and wipe away the tears when you did. Fathers took charge. Mothers took care. Between them, with a little help from family and friends, community and society, a baby boy would grow up to be a man – a normal, productive, well-balanced, and committed member of society. In the case of Baby Boomer boys like me, that meant being self-assured, self-absorbed, and self-conscious about changing the world and making things right, and filled with a sense of entitlement and great expectations for our own success.”

This was my experience growing up. It wasn’t something I fabricated to make a good story. I was fortunate to live it every day. And I was blessed to have an opportunity to do something similar with my two step-sons. I am proud of the men they’ve become.

BYB: Personally, what main ball player did you idolize growing up and why?

Ken White: Mickey Mantle. He’s still my favorite. Early in his career, when I was old enough to follow the game seriously, he was the All-American boy. He seemed like a good guy. And he really appeared to enjoy playing baseball. It was easy for him and it looked like a lot of fun. He was fast and played great defense, which were the strengths of my game. He would have troubles later in life, but I preferred to overlook those. I continue to wear #7 on my team jersey.

BYB: What was the most important thing Mikey Wright learned on his journey?

Ken White: Again, to quote the book:  “In 1962, I learned what it meant to be selfless, to think about others before myself, and to not be afraid of the unknown. I realized that I couldn’t control everything in my life, that stuff happens and nothing ever goes as planned. Most importantly, I discovered that expectations weren’t real, loneliness was absolute, change was inevitable, and laughter was essential. I became a believer in the power of positive thinking.”

He also learned to never stop believing. These are all things I continue to consider important.

BYB: Why should people buy your book?

Ken White: For Baby Boomers, it is their story. Even though it is set in Modesto, it is about growing up in America in the early 1960s. For families, it is a heartfelt look at the complex relationships of fathers and sons, husbands and wives, siblings, friends, and community. Although a family is “the closest of strangers,” there is nobody who will ever know us better. For baseball fans, it’s a fond look back at a great period of the game. For historians, it offers a glimpse into the world of the time; a backward glance at the things that would later shape all of the 60s. For everyone, it’s a fast, enjoyable read with characters you like and can root for. And, as one Giants’ fan pointed out, “I knew the ending, but I kept hoping the Giants would pull it out.” That’s the epitome of believing.

BYB: Do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue? If so, what do you think?

Ken White: I have only recently started reading the BYB Blog. I’m amazed at the depth of coverage and the amount of fan interaction. And the wide variety of stories. I can only imagine the amount of time and energy this “hobby” requires. It’s obvious that you are a true fan of the Pinstripes and the Game.

Thank you Mr. White.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it was an absolute honor and pleasure to interview Ken White for BYB.  He's a helluva nice guy and Getaway Day is a helluva read.   I hope you all take the time and pick up Getaway Day.  It's a perfect Father's Day gift. Here's the LINK to Amazon if you are interested in getting a copy right now.

Ken, thanks again!

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