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Bases to Bleachers: A Collection of Personal Baseball Stories from the Stands and Beyond

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One day during an afternoon at the ball park, author Eric Gray asked his wife, daughter, and friend to identify their favorite game that they had been to. Little did he know, that simple question would soon take on a life of its own. As the question made its way to a surprising collection of incredibly diverse stories and perspectives. Thus, Bases to Bleachers was born.

Much more than your average baseball book, the many special and unique stories shared with readers here, whether they're about watching or playing, either at the Major League level or Little League, represent a wide gamut of experiences. Some entail meeting the stars or attending famous games—and some offered are personal, intimate moments involving family connections and the importance of baseball in people's lives.

Unlike most baseball books, this is not a biography, or a discussion of a team, or an analysis of a season. Baseball here is a setting in which both astounding feats and some of the most beautifully touching moments in peoples' lives have happened. Whether it's the first game, falling in love in the park, or even a beloved baseball glove that survived World War II, these stories are about more than just baseball. They reflect the joys, triumphs, and disappointments of the human condition, and often illustrate what's truly important in life—those things we hold most dear in our hearts.

337 pages, Paperback

Published March 1, 2019

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About the author

Eric C. Gray

2 books3 followers
Who am I, and why should you read my book? Good questions. I have written poetry and song lyrics mostly for my own amusement and training projects related to my job, but I am guessing THAT is not why you will buy this book. I wrote for a short-lived on-line baseball magazine and would be happy to share those essays with you, but, again, THAT won’t draw you to this book!

This is a book of stories that everyone can relate to, baseball fan or not, stories that make you remember something from your life, stories that make you wish you had been there. The inspiration for this book came from a nice afternoon at the ballpark, when I asked my wife, daughter and friend “what is your favorite game that you have been to?” That question took on a life of its own and changed my life in ways I never could have anticipated. The result is Bases to Bleachers: A Collection of Personal Baseball Stories from the Stands and Beyond. It is filled with stories that moved me…to tears, to laughter, to remember my own experiences in greater detail. These are the stories from people who you and I pass on the street every day, but don’t get a chance to meet, ask them questions, or hear about their experiences. That’s exactly what I did, for me, for you. I spent eight years meeting people, making friends, and collecting their stories. And I got 1250 of them, from more than 700 story contributors. We all have our favorite memories, and I was the lucky recipient of some amazing ones from people just like you and me. I gut-wrenchingly narrowed them down to about 300 for this book,

I am originally from Plainview, New York, and earned my BA from SUNY New Paltz. I came to San Francisco in 1974, where I soon began a 39-year career at the U.S. Department of Labor, administering job training and employment programs for disadvantaged youth, most of that time spent with the Job Corps program. I met my future wife, Lynn Rhodes, on my first day at the Department of Labor and never moved back to NY. Lynn and I have two adult children, Rachel in San Francisco and David in Washington, D.C. We are all baseball fans, along with David’s wife, Lisa. My hobbies include rock and roll, following politics, playing and watching baseball and basketball, hiking, and hanging out with friends and family. This is my first book, but it won’t be my last. I am already well on my way to a second volume of my baseball book, having saved some amazing stories and chapters for the next one. I am always soliciting more stories, so if my book brings your own great story to mind and you would like to contribute it for my next book, share it with me at eric.baseballstories@gmail.com.

As a big music fan, I am also beginning to collect similar personal memories from folks of their experiences at concerts of any music genre, or any other music-related story that you might want to share with readers. Send these to me at eric.concertstories@gmail.com.

A random question asked at a ballgame in April 2011 became a project which has been a labor of love. I hope you love these stories as much as I do.

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5 stars
38 (77%)
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7 (14%)
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4 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Lance.
1,410 reviews92 followers
July 15, 2019
Anyone who has even a passing interest in baseball will have a story or two or ten to tell about the game. From a simple question to his family, Eric C. Gray has taken that question and developed it into a wonderful collection of baseball stories gathered from people across the world in this book.

A vast majority of the stories are a joy to read. Not all, but most – as is the case for any type of collection like this, there will be some stories that readers may not enjoy and that was the case for me. As for the good-to-excellent pieces, some are funny, some are tear-jerkers, some are proud moments of accomplishment, and some involve love at the ballpark. Not only are the stories varied in their themes and interests, so are the contributors as Gray received stories from all over the globe for inclusion in the book.

Written by fans for fans, this excellent collection of baseball stories is sure to have something for everyone. Because it is a collection, the book can be digested in whatever manner a reader wishes. It can be read for a short time, picked up later and continued or a reader can read through the stories in one sitting. No matter how someone reads it, “Bases to Bleachers” is sure to be a hit with any baseball fan.

I wish to thank Mr. Gray for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Harold Kasselman.
Author 2 books74 followers
June 7, 2019
Eric Gray's book pays homage to the love of "the one constant through all of the years", the game of baseball. He does so with an anthology of anecdotes from ordinary fans(and some celebrities) about what baseball means to them, and how the game made memories that have lasted from generation to generation. I thought I would take my time and read the book in short passages since you can pick it up anywhere and not lose context. Instead, I could not stop reading it. I finished it in less than three days because each anecdote provided some comfort and meaning that I could identify with as a baseball fan. Some stories, especially the ones about special needs children, made me choke up with tears. Others, such as the World War II prisoner of war's baseball glove that found a sympathetic Nazi, were simply fascinating. Of course the ones concerning family especially fathers and sons hit me especially hard.(Richard Shapiro of Illinois for instance) But others will leave you smiling broadly or even laughing. These are human interest stories that meld us together in the common thread that the game has thrilled us with in our lives. It has built and cemented relationships of love. The chapters on the Negro Leagues and the international games were particularly interesting. I doubt that my old ears could handle a game in Japan or S. Korea, but it was fun to read those stories. Imagine having a fifth inning break where the opposing teams meet and relax together before the second half begins? I think there are 1,700 anecdotes in this volume alone and no doubt thousands were left out because of space limitations. Still, each and every one is special. This is a unique treat that allows the reader to appreciate what love of the game has meant to so many of us in the words of your fellow fans as" baseball has marked the time."
44 reviews1 follower
November 26, 2019
My friend Eric Gray has written a great, heart-warming book about folks' personal stories, memories, of their experiences with baseball. It is really a human interest book in a baseball jersey; the stories will make you laugh, cry and just remember. I have been a baseball fan almost my whole life and I can remember few pure "baseball stories". Eric's book magically merges great stories to the game of baseball. For example, in one case a son in Chicago's North Side is a Cubs fan; his father is a White Sox fan. The son purchased two tickets for a baseball game. The father died five days before the game. The son attended the game and left an empty seat next to his signifying his father and the son's desire to get closer to his dad.

Eric tells a very nice story about the first time he took his two kids, David and Rachel to a baseball game at AT and T Park. Halfway through the game, David was running up and down the stadium with his friends. Rachel sat transfixed and has worked many years for the San Francisco Giants.

This is nice book to read even if you are not a baseball fan. Highly recommended.
July 18, 2019
I LOVED this book. It is definitely the type of book that I will read over and over again. The best part is that it doesn't matter where I start reading, every chapter and every story is interesting! I am not a baseball fan nor a baseball book reader, but this wonderful book is sooooo much more than a baseball book. It really is a story of people who lives are touched by, in, and around the game. Very rarely has reading a book brought tears to my eyes, but there are several stories in this amazing collection that did! I won't give it away, you'll have to read it for yourself (hint: WWII bomber crew) !!!!
July 14, 2019
Whether you are a fan of baseball or you just want to read a great book, this book will not disappoint! Some of the stories are hilarious and some will bring a tear to your eye. You can read a few stories at a time, or sit for a morning/afternoon/evening and read about peoples wonderful experiences and memories that have happened with baseball. Buy this book for yourself or for that baseball fan you know, you will be glad you bought this great book!
1 review
March 6, 2020
GREAT BOOK!!! I just finished reading BASES TO BLEACHERS: A COLLECTION OF PERSONAL BASEBALL STORIES FROM THE STANDS AND BEYOND by Eric C. Gray. I don't know how Gray managed to find and assemble this amazing collection. I laughed out loud at the end of many of these stories--in astonishment. Of course, a lot of the stories are hysterically funny. But many are very moving. Or even erotic! Famous old timers. Women playing baseball. Little League. Beating the traffic. Negro Leagues. Family. Love. Assembling these wonderful stories is a major achievement.
Profile Image for Stephen Raguskus.
27 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2021
Baseball is the perfect game for telling stories. The pace allows plenty of time to share memories of games past. This book is a collection of stories and feels like you’re sitting in the bleachers, eating peanuts and sipping on a beer, with a bunch of friends. Some of the storytellers are famous, most are just me and you. Every chapter brought to mind stories of my own, great memories with friends and family. I highly recommend this enjoyable book!
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 1 book10 followers
October 7, 2022
There are so many heroes in "Bases to Bleachers". Most noticeable, of course, are the baseball players who provided the thrills that formed lifetime memories for others. Then there are the fans from all over the country (and even Australia) who contributed their personal recollections that mostly centered on activity on the field. Finally, author/editor Eric Gray deserves applause for taking the time to gather, curate, and comment upon these stories. In the end, "Bases to Bleachers" is one of the most satisfying baseball books you will read.

This well-balanced narrative pulls readers in with accounts that can be appreciated by baseball novices or aficionados. In fact, some of the stories, like the one about the woman who did not know that the man she spoke to in a bar for an hour was Ernie Banks, are told by people with little or no baseball knowledge. Other stories, of course, are told by men and women born with baseball in their blood.

As mentioned, most of the book has stories depicting on the field activity. But, Gray does an excellent job categorizing the stories within different themes, including those that have nothing to do with Major League baseball games. These tales are, in all cases, just as interesting and provide extra flavor throughout. I don't know how much editing Gray did within each story, but they are each impressively written and moving in their own way.

If you are a true fan like me, you'll probably find yourself wanting to write out a few stories with your own favorite baseball experience. While a sequel to "Bases to Bleachers" is already in the works, I'm sure Gray will be happy to review material for what will almost surely be a trilogy.
Profile Image for Zach Koenig.
641 reviews3 followers
July 1, 2022
Baseball may be the only sport about which a book like this could be written. Its leisurely pace and long season make for story-worthy moments that can easily be reflected upon without the all-out intensity of other sports (such as football, basketball, hockey, etc.). That is basically what author Eric C. Gray does in “Bases to Bleachers”—compile 300+ pages of baseball experience stories.

The stories here range from family members to romantic interests, player interactions to on-field experiences, famous MLB milestones to those accomplished in Little League. Essentially a wide swath—humorous to tear-jerking and everything in between—of personal stories all involving an element of the national pastime. There is nothing that baseball fans like more than reflecting on a sport that often revels in its history and nostalgia, so that largely will keep the pages turning here.

Of course, “Bases to Bleachers” is—at its core—a selection of random stories. As such, it is difficult to give this a full five stars. Not so much for any internal failing, but simply because there is really no narrative throughline other than “it’s amazing that all these disparate stories can spring up around this one thing (baseball)”.

But Gray’s tome is easily a solid 4-star read for the experiences that baseball fans young and old will be able to relate to. I read the book straight through, but I’d almost recommend breaking it up here and there or over the course of a longer period. Gaining the context of each individual story can get a little exhausting when they come right after another, but over time I could foresee it being easier to stomach. A perfect coffee-table book, in other words.
2 reviews
November 22, 2019
I met the author at a Milwaukee Brewers game, my being a baseball fan from Milwaukee and the author simply being a baseball fan. He asked me, a complete stranger to him, if I had any baseball stories that might be interesting enough to share in a book. I sent him several and one of them is in there. Of course, I'd buy the book, having a story in it, but as I began to read it, I found it to be so much more than a baseball book. It was about people more than baseball, but every story has some connection to some form of the game of baseball, which is what drew my interest. There are some tender stories, some sad stories, some funny stories, weird stories and more. The stories could be about the Major League, the Negro League, the Minor League, a softball league or no league at all...perhaps a game of catch in a back yard. I must admit that a part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is that I love the game of baseball, obviously like the author. But, in reading the book, I also read a lot about people's lives..
1 review
November 24, 2019
Eric Gray's book, had it been a restaurant, would have gotten the highest Michelin rating. The personal stories touched me, entertained me and made my innards explode with laughter at times. Americans can be proud that this sport, this life long attraction for millions is shared all over the globe. What other sport has fields or any other playing measurements that differ in so many ways. "Green Monsters", monuments on the playing field, bushes in play,etc.etc. are all and more unique characteristics of this wonderful sport. But the people from young kids to Hall of Famers domestic and international make this sport so inviting to watch and play. There are intricacies and situations in baseball that most sports cannot compare--it is truly a "thinking man's game". Thank you Mr. Gray for collecting tales to share with all.
Greg Murray
2 reviews
August 9, 2019
Hey baseball fans,

It’s been 45 years since the Chevrolet commercial introduced the jingle “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie & Chevrolet.” (For those of my generation, try to get that tune out of your mind now.)

As far as I’m concerned, the only noun that survived as being a truly American phenomenon is baseball. There is nothing like going to a ballpark. It’s fun when your team wins, but it’s a magical event win or lose. At least that’s how baseball fans like me feel.

Eric’s love of baseball and, in turn, love of fans has given us a wonderful read. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll reminisce all the while hearing the sounds, smelling the smells and dreaming the dreams.

Read this book, you’ll love it.
26 reviews
November 21, 2019
A few month ago I got my hands on this book, and have finished it...for the third time. I had read it immediately upon its arrival, but after finishing it I needed to read it again... this time taking notes, and REALLY immersing myself in it. If you're even a casual baseball fan, you MUST read this book. It's a collection of stories from the fans to the fans, that'll make you smile/laugh, it'll give you a lump in your throat, and it'll make you fall in love with the game all over again. So many great stories, from so many interesting people, please put this on your reading list. Hell, you might even find a few people you know who contributed their stories...Contact Eric, contact me, we'll get you a copy...TRUST ME, YOU'LL LOVE IT!!!
January 23, 2020
This is a wonderful collection of baseball stories, but also personal baseball anecdotes. They are interesting and portray the game as not just hits or walks, but also as life experiences. I really enjoyed the stories and the book took me back in time to my youth. It brought up memories of going to Yankees games with my friends and family, playing baseball in grade school out on Randall's Island and even throwing the ball with my father in Central Park. Having recently lost my father, I was so happy that the book was able to evoke these emotions and memories. I also gave copies to my grade school coach and my baseball-obsessed nephew.
Profile Image for Jennifer Halligan.
5 reviews8 followers
February 9, 2020
This book is so much fun although it invoked years from me the entire time. They were of joy, of sorrow and nostalgia. I was never sad, but baseball moments big and small, triumphant & tragic- have always elicited these emotions from me. There are stories about the greatest moments of peoples' lives and in some cases some of the worst but it covers every emotion fans can feel at the while at the yard. Eric does an amazing job of taking these stories and arranging them so that they really do come alive! Honestly, if you are dedicated fan of any sport, you will find a connection with this book. Not reading it is doing yourself a great disservice. I could read it again and again!
Profile Image for Nick.
2 reviews4 followers
August 16, 2020
This book is not just for baseball dorks like me who were as fascinated with the statistics on the back of the baseball card as the picture on the front. The stories in Bases to Bleachers are also for those who know nothing about baseball but are interested nonetheless in the game's quirky characteristics and the eccentric behavior of those who live and breathe what is labeled America's pastime.
From the little leagues to the big leagues, from different areas of the world, all bases are covered (terrible pun, I know).
Family, friendship, multiculturalism, it's all there. A note of warning - Have some Kleenex handy for some of these anecdotes.
Yes, I am loving this book.
Profile Image for Sherri Kent-Roberts.
57 reviews3 followers
September 4, 2019
This unique collection of stories is not just another book about baseball. It is much more than that! It is written in the words of those whose unique experiences made them fall in love with the game. It’s about attending the first game with a parent. It’s about die-hard Cubs’ fans! It’s about the regrets of leaving a game early and missing out on an awesome ending. Mr. Gray has captured the essence of the game-little league or major league and why we love baseball. Can’t wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Phil.
672 reviews14 followers
November 18, 2019
Baseball is life and love. If you are of that mind, as I am, this is the book for you. It is full of wonderful personal rememberances of games and moments that touched the teller. Why 'just' 4-stars? (I seem to have broked a run of 5s). It does get a bit repetitive. More so in certain parts. The stories of fans meeting players 'Mickey, Can I Have Your Autograph" is one example. Many are 'I was sitting in a diner and realized that next to me was _______.' That and a couple of other spots got a bit tedious.
December 19, 2019
This is a great book. It has an amazingly wide range of stories around the subject of baseball but yet is not a baseball book in the sense of most which are full of statistics and analyses and specific stories about players and the game. This is more about the human interest and spectator side of the sport. It is a fun and heartwarming look at so many different aspects of the people who have an interest in baseball. I'm looking forward to the second collection that Eric Gray will publish hopefully in the near future.
1 review
December 27, 2019
This is not your typical baseball book and you don't have to love the sport to appreciate the book. Eric Gray has compiled a diverse array of personal stories from contributors across the globe. The tie that binds them together is the personal connection with baseball - the individual experiences and memories that go beyond runs scored and on-field achievements. Eric received an overwhelming number of stories, and I was lucky enough to have been selected as a contributor. The stories are funny, compelling, sad and nostalgic. I look forward to his next book!
1 review
November 11, 2019
The Super Bowl passed the World Series years ago to become America’s premier sporting event, but baseball still captures the hearts of its fans like no other game. In “Bases to Bleachers,” dozens of fans of every age, race, gender, and nationality share their most unforgettable baseball moments. The stories, skillfully compiled by Eric Gray, are a reminder of the joy of watching men play a boys game and in playing it become boys once again.
November 22, 2019
This is a wonderful book. It's not really a baseball book, but a book about life, with baseball as a minor character in it. Some much of our humanity can be found through sports, but also through baseball. it is a mirror of who we are, as people, a reflection of the good and the bad, and our humanity. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is beautiful with all different stories of people in good times, and in bad times. It is who we are.
1 review
November 24, 2019
Bases to Bleachers is a great collection of baseball experiences that illustrate so well just how baseball isn't just a game, it's life, connecting fans from across generations and oceans and more! Eric C. Gray does a great job letting the storytellers lead the way, and you, as the reader, are sitting right next to the hopeful Mom of a Little Leaguer, the Dad of a Major Leaguer, a retired umpire, the kid getting to meet his childhood hero years later, and other tales. A very fun read!
Profile Image for Karla.
6 reviews3 followers
November 25, 2019
If you're a baseball lover, you'll definitely enjoy reading this book! You'll appreciate each and every story as they're very relatable. Some will make you laugh, others cry but and in all, you'll see how others share in this passion with you. My best friend and I both have stories published in it. Can't wait to read it again next season!
June 22, 2021
After tons of baseball books telling almost everything about teams, players, brass, there is a book where simple, genuine, (almost) anonymous fans tell their unique relation with the American Pastime linking it with certain sides of their lifes.

And that catches your attention! Laughs, tears, awe, love, all come out from the pages.
1 review1 follower
December 4, 2019
You don't have to be a baseball fan to be touched by these many intimate, personal stories that were somehow associated with baseball. It is a beautiful read.
Profile Image for Scott Goldman.
1 review4 followers
September 6, 2019
What a treasure ! A must read for those whose hearts and souls are in our American Pastime

Great stories and memories
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews

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