I’ve been in love with baseball since I could walk. It’s the first sport I played and remember watching regularly. A passion for baseball is something author Doug Wilson and I have in common.
The 53-year-old Columbus, Ind. ophthalmologist has written three baseball biographies in the past four years. He began in 2010 with Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds about late Reds manager Fred Hutchinson. He followed his debut with with a 2013 offering — The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych — which chronicled the colorful, late Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych.
His latest book that was published in March is Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson. It is that book that chronicles the Little Rock native’s career that landed Wilson a spot on the Arkansas Literary Festival speaker’s docket. Wilson discusses the book at 1 p.m. Saturday at Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library, Darragh Center.
I visited with Wilson for an article published in this week’s Sync Magazine. Of course, with my interest in baseball, there were too many questions to publish. Here is the bonus material from our conversation.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
My favorite was Harmon Killebrew. At the time, we lived in Florida, not far from Orlando where the Twins went through spring training. He was the MVP in 1969. I was eight, and I followed him through the box scores. He was one of the nicest guys in baseball. I sent him a letter and he sent me an autographed picture. I still have it. He has always been my favorite.
How do you balance the time between your practice and being an author?
It’s pretty hard sometimes. This year, with all of the new changes and insurance have been tough to keep up with. There is always a few minutes to do things. I get up early and [work on book projects] before everything gets stared. Sometimes, I get busy and I have to go two weeks without touching [a project].
What is the toughest thing about balancing the two?
The unknown. When I am on-call, I have to go to the hospital. Two weeks ago I had little girl who had a piece of metal in her eye and had to take her to surgery. That throws the rest of the day’s schedule out. I had to work twice as hard to get caught up.
Have you thought about becoming a full-time writer?
No, I would never [write] full-time. I am ophthalmologist, and I went through 12 years of training. That’s quite a time investment. That’s what I do and who I am. I enjoy it for the most part, other than the insurance part. I enjoy operating and helping people see better. On the other hand, writing and baseball is a labor of love and something I enjoy. I work to be as good as I can and look at what other people write and try to emulate them.
Describe the feeling when you completed your first book?
It felt pretty good. It took about a year to research and writing it was tough. With the first one, you aren’t sure if your are good enough. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction. There is a fear that other people may not like it.
Mark Fidrych was one of the more fascinating major leaguers, what’s one thing you uncovered that surprised you about him?
One of the biggest things that surprised me is it wasn’t an act with him. He didn’t just do those things on TV. I talked to his three sisters and friends, and they basically told me his whole life he was hyper-active. On the mound, he was so focused on what he was doing he didn’t realize he was quirky. He was being himself.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who may be entrenched in other careers?
The biggest thing is just jump in. Don’t be afraid to write something others are going to read. There are always going to be critics. I read different authors like Leigh Montville and David Halberstand and try to learn from their styles.
What will be the focus of your next project?
Actually, last week an editor of a publishing company emailed me about writing a book about Carlton Fisk. Next year is the 40th anniversary of [his World Series game-winning home run against the Cincinnati Reds]. Nobody has written much about him, and he is an interesting guy. It sounds very interesting, but it is a tight deadline. It is going to publish in October.