Peanuts and Crackerjack
by Kate McMurray
I suspect I don’t really look like a sports fan. There was a recent episode of Project Runway in which the contestants had to design sporty clothes, the sort of thing a fan would wear to a game, and the judges thought my personal favorite design of the bunch—a kicky fit-and-flare dress with a mesh overlay—was too cute and fancy for attending a game at a stadium. I was like, “Says you.” The overlap of fashion and sports is a weird one, but it makes perfect sense in my head.
I have a lot of hobbies and interests, which I think are reflected pretty well in the big bookcase in my living room, where a lot of my nonfiction books live. There’s a whole shelf of fashion-related coffee table books, for example, and books on science, religion, and world history, New York City history and culture, and, of course, baseball. I seem to have a particular weakness for biographies of dead-ball era players, but I like the mechanics of the game, too: the strategy, the statistics, the way certain combinations of players make magic while others don’t.
It’s easy to kind of distill the game down to its numbers and miss out on the human component of it, which is why I think I like player biographies so much. It’s a good reminder that our sports heroes are often flawed humans.
That’s a lot of what went into Out in the Field. Athletes make for compelling romance heroes for this reason. They’re strong, driven, often successful, but they’re flawed, too. They have problems and insecurities.
It was fun for me to imagine how it must feel to be the sort of man who is so dedicated to his sport that he chose to play it professionally. Likely he eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball, but his interests wouldn’t be limited to that. So I wrote Matt Blanco, a man who doesn’t think he has anything to offer the world aside from his (substantial) baseball prowess, but who likes art and design and poetry. And he’s flawed, defensive. He’s anxious about aging, he puts his own health at risk to continue playing the game he loves, he keeps secrets from his friends so that he won’t risk his career.
I think that’s relatable even if you’re not a sports fan. At the end of the day, he’s a man who is passionate about his career. And when the way he’s been living his life is challenged—when he starts to fall for Iggy and realizes there’s more for him in the world than just baseball—it creates a crisis for him that he has to work through to get his happy ending. At its bones, those are elements at the heart of most romance novels.
I hope my peculiar blend of compassion, humor, and deep, deep baseball nerdery are reflected in Out in the Field, and I hope readers, both sports fans and non-sports fans, can find something to relate to in the novel.
Matt Blanco is a legend on the Brooklyn Eagles, but time and injuries have taken their toll. With his career nearing its end, he’s almost made it to retirement without anyone learning his biggest secret: he’s gay in a profession not particularly known for its tolerance.
Iggy Rodriquez is the hot new rookie in town, landing a position in the starting lineup of the team of his dreams and playing alongside his idol, Matt Blanco. Iggy doesn’t think it can get any better, until an unexpected encounter in the locker room with Matt proves him wrong.
A relationship—and everything it could reveal—has never been in the cards for Matt, but Iggy has him rethinking his priorities. They fall hard for each other, struggling to make it through trades, endorsement deals, and the threat of retirement. Ultimately they will be faced with a choice: love or baseball?
About the Author
Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers and is currently the president of the New York City chapter of RWA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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