High school senior Carolina Williams is headed to Yale University this fall, thanks in part to an essay about Papa John's. "When I saw that the prompt was 'Write about what you love to do,' my very first thought was order pizza from Papa John's," Williams toldBusiness Insider. "I order pizza from Papa John's once a week—it's my absolute favorite! I thought for a while about if I should actually do that and if they would take it seriously, but I decided to just write it because it was so easy and my passion came through."
In her essay, Carolina explored the vast range of emotions that come with ordering pizza—specifically Papa John's. Williams' essay not only helped her stand out among the rest, but it drew an email from an admissions officer and "fellow lover of pizza," who raved about her application. "I laughed so hard on your pizza essay. I kept thinking that you are the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with," the admissions officer wrote. "I want you to know that every part of your application stood out in our process and we are thrilled to be able to offer you a spot at Yale."
Even Papa John's took the time to congratulate Williams on her acceptance to Yale—and hopefully offer her a free pie or two.
A collection of poignant stories, “The Love of Baseball” reveals writers whose love for their sport spans lifetimes, generations, and continents. These personal narratives evince a loyalty, commitment, and devotion that is contagious for even baseball’s toughest critics.
Arranged by editors Chris Arvidson and Diana Nelson Jones to imitate the pattern of a typical baseball season, “the essays begin with stories of spring training optimism, followed by the guts and grind of the regular season, and ending with the glory (or heartbreak) of the playoffs.”
Chris and Diana selected writers from varying places with diverse baseball loyalties for their compilation. Chris explains, “We wanted representation from all over the United States, and we wanted the book to speak to anyone who is a baseball fan rather than any one particular team.”
From the description of “Spring Training,” readers recognize the passion embedded in each writer’s story as their own unique love letter to baseball. “The phrase hope springs eternal works wonderfully for the beginning of baseball season. Spring training is the hope of a new year — everything is possible for our teams. Injuries have healed. The bad taste of last year’s end-of-season slump is long gone. No more sour grapes. All is new spring wine.”
In the opening essay, “Somewhere the Sun in Shining,” Diana describes the significance of traveling to experience spring training, “…it really doesn’t matter who wins. Wins and losses don’t indicate how the season will play out. Spring training is rehearsal, and the fan gets to be backstage. One novice bobbles a grounder that another novice grabs to get the runner out. A new pitcher comes in every two innings. An exciting game is a messy game. The real payoff is that the games are played close to players, with a bright sun and a blue sky overhead.” Later in Part One, Victoria Stopp remembers her “glory days” of the sport: “…but as our coach pulled the team van into the parking lot of Taco Bell, I knew my college career was over…Suffering through another season as an untalented pitcher wouldn’t bring forth another chance at glory…I sighed and thought of post-game pizza binges with my Comets friends. The college’s $5-per-player allotment brought me nachos and a Pepsi, and I pocketed the change, smiling and telling myself I’d just gotten paid to play ball, and that surely there was nothing more glorious than that.”
Part Two of the book, “Season,” carries the writers’ romance even further. As it is described, “The baseball season is a serious haul. There aren’t many days off and there’s plenty of travel…We get our chances to go to some, or many, games. We commiserate. We wear our gear and fly our flags…individual accomplishments can be cheered the whole season through. It is the greatest, real-time narrative in history.” From these pages, readers understand the “in-a-relationship” status of those who love baseball and the time both fans and athletes are happily willing to commit to the sport.
In “The Girl from Cleveland,” Nancy Gutierrez beautifully describes her lifelong love for baseball and its significance in her life: “It has been more than 50 years since I was pulled into the enchantment of baseball by Sister Judith and Diane Decker. It has been exactly 50 years since the white-knuckle tension of listening to Sonny Seibert’s no-hitter. In the years since, I have experienced heartbreak and misery. As I have told friends, ‘Being a Cleveland Indians fan builds character.’ I have lots of character.”
Also in Part Two, David E. Malehorn writes “Love, Hate, Cubs” to his grandson, Booker, explaining, “I hope that you fall in love with something good while you are still a very young boy. By the time I was 4, I was already a Cubs fan. This has not always been a good thing, but love doesn’t always make you happy.” Using baseball as his guide, David imparts the wisdom he’s garnered from life. He closes with, “Love never fails. Winning is terrific. Celebrate it, but don’t always expect it. Losing hurts, but pain is the rent we pay to live here, and it fades. Every new game is a clean score sheet and nine fresh innings of hope.”
Part Three, “Post-Season,” speaks to fans’ and athletes’ abiding love for baseball. “Baseball work for us. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s dependable, reliable, and timeless. Thank you, baseball.”
Whether a baseball fan, a former player, or just someone interested in learning more about life’s nuances, readers will value the honesty, sincerity, and passion found in these essays. And, if you’re really lucky, you will “take home some turf” and find yourself excited for the 2018 opening season.