Q&A with the sportswriter and author of Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me.
Stacey May Fowles loves baseball, but she never meant to be a sportswriter. The novelist and essayist started “curating baseball feelings”—that is, compiling an e-newsletter of happenings from across the league—in 2015. Her smart and self-described gleeful dispatches found a devoted audience and led to a new collection of essays about what might be her favourite thing in the world (family and friends notwithstanding…we think). Fowles chatted with us about what the game means to her, covering the tough stuff and the player she's rooting for the most.
Canadian Living: What do you love most about baseball?
Stacy May Fowles: It's reliable. It happens every day—maybe not your team, but there's a game every day for a set period of time—and you can use your love of it as a tool, so if you want to go to a game and completely escape, you can do that.
CL: There's been a lot of talk recently about “sticking to the game,” but your book addresses quite a bit more. Why?
SMF: There are so many people who love baseball because it helps them through the more difficult parts of their lives. And I don't think that's a thing we talk a great deal about. We talk about stats and projections and who's going to what team, but we don't talk about what this game means to people in their everyday lives.
CL: You also talk about serious issues in baseball, such as doping, racism and sexism. Why is that important?
SMF: Because I love it. If you see value in a space, it's worth investing your time in making that space welcoming for everyone. Baseball has done so much good for me, and my impulse is to share that with as many people as possible, not keep them out. Often, when I criticize how exclusionary baseball culture can be, people get defensive about it. But the reason I do it is because I love it so much, not because I think it's awful.
CL: What's it like to be one of the few women writing about sports in mainstream media?
SMF: It's a difficult thing to navigate, and it's important to talk about it, but we also have to understand that fan experiences are very personal. There isn't a woman's and a man's fan experience; there are a lot of different experiences. That's where many MLB teams get it wrong; they think that marketing toward women by giving them a feather boa is the way to go. That's why I think it's important to acknowledge that women are still consistently excluded from baseball culture, and that a woman's experience in this game is not universal.
CL: Who's your favourite baseball player?
SMF: That's hard to say! I have such an incredible affinity for [former Blue Jay and current Atlanta Braves pitcher] R.A. Dickey as a person, so I feel the need to eliminate him from the list, because I actually talked to him, human to human. I have a lot of incredible feelings for [Blue Jay third baseman] Josh Donaldson. But I'm really Team [Jose] Bautista lately; I became so annoyed with people who criticized him that, somewhere along the way, he became my favourite. Which is actually really strange because I was always sort of an underdog person, and all of a sudden, I'm rooting for the legend.
Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me (McClelland & Stewart) by Stacey May Fowles, $25.