Everybody’s Game / Richard Raney Photo

People keep asking me what the new book, Everybody’s Game, is about. All right, I’ll explain it. I’ll explain while on the gallery floor right now, Richard Raney–one of my painters–is posing for a newspaper photographer. Story will break the day of his show, Friday, 12/2. Man, is he proud. Well, I’m proud of him.

The story behind Everybody’s Game is simple. In fact, here’s the synopsis:

Organized sports today has become a disaster for most kids because of how certain adults run the games: the yelling, negativity, and occasional violence. Most leagues tolerate this, and I confront them head-on, revealing how these cruel attitudes have ruined children’s sports, and why it is time for a change. Why would I know about this? Because I was a baseball coach for eight years—albeit a kind one.

Everybody’s Game is about changing kids’ lives by coaching baseball—and all sports—with compassion. It’s about life and its myriad challenges, and sacrificing as a parent or coach, even when you’re broke and overworked. Especially it’s about the things that will matter when you’re on your deathbed: how many struggling children you helped, as opposed to how many games you won.

To keep the book compelling, in alternating chapters I tell about my team of “geeks” who grew into confident ball players over several seasons. Why? Because millions of children feel discounted athletically, as millions of parents once did, as I once did too.

Primarily though the book is about growth: for the child, the parent, and the family. Programs like Oprah place great emphasis on this; so do I. My voice is one of humor, experience and compassion, where I take the reader on a rewarding journey.

I discuss how to be an involved parent or effective coach, covering practices, drills, games, and so forth. But I also cover medicated kids, depressed kids, overweight kids, and all the decadent influences that parents have to deal with in today’s world. The tested solutions I offer unfold with each chapter. So does the philosophy of how when you coach well, you create a sense of community—something our society sorely needs.

My own story as a struggling writer unfolds with the book as well: the enormous problems I’ve faced, and my deep love for my family. I tell how coaching was thrust upon me—-me, an artist and one-time athletic failure—-how at first I resisted it then came to love it, mostly for the kids. I even learned to hit homers at age 40.

Teaching as I entertain, I reveal how coaching with discipline and love is one way of giving back to your society beyond the overwrought professional world, since the journey of the child comes before that of the adult. I’ve written this book to be timely (steroid scandals, out-of-control parents), but also timeless. I believe it is. PD

And there you have it. Why did I–a novelist–write this book, and when will it come out? Those are two complex questions, to which I will provide answers tomorrow. But for now, I’m going to go tease Richard about his refusal to smile for the camera.

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