By Rubin E. Grant
When author and baseball historian Doug Wedge was trying to get his first book published, he sought out a publisher in Charleston, South Carolina.
But The History Press informed him that it wasn’t interested because the book wasn’t regional enough.
So, Wedge turned to Texas A&M University Press to get his book “Cy Young Catcher,” co-authored by former major league catcher Charlie O’Brien, published in 2015.
At the same time, Wedge came up with a book idea that would meet The History Press’ requirements.
On May 28, “Baseball in Alabama: Tales of Hardball in the Heart of Dixie” will hit bookshelves, released by Arcadia Publishing & The History Press. The book retails for $22.99.
Wedge profiles 10 players with Alabama roots and connections and their rise to the major league. Players such as Birmingham’s Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson share their keys to success, career highlights and anecdotal stories. The 176-page book also examines minor league and college baseball in Alabama.
Former Auburn baseball coach Hal Baird wrote the foreword, describing his experiences on the diamond in the state.
“When you think about Alabama, you think Alabama and Auburn and college football and the Iron Bowl,” Wedge said from his home in Edmond, Oklahoma. “I also see images of Nick Saban holding up that Waterford Trophy with confetti raining down (after Alabama wins a national championship) and Bo Jackson going over the top to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. But baseball has a rich heritage in Alabama, too.”
Wedge conducted in-person interviews with each of the 10 players featured and pored over newspaper articles and box scores to come up with some other interesting details.
Among those stories is Hank Aaron’s final at-bat, when the Mobile native and former home run king was with the Milwaukee Brewers and pinch-hit for catcher Charlie Moore, who’s from Adamsville.
Wedge also details how Jay Tibbs from Huffman High School in Birmingham was with the Cincinnati Reds as a teammate of Pete Rose’s when Rose broke Ty Cobb’s hits record. Plus, the book includes Trussville’s Mike Mordecai batting twice for the Miami Marlins in the infamous “Bartman Game” against the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 National League Championship Series.
“Doug Wedge does a great job of telling you about the Alabamians who made their mark in the big leagues and shares good stories about college and minor league ball in Alabama,” said former Birmingham Barons and major league pitcher Jack McDowell.
Wedge lived in Mountain Brook for six years, from 2010 to 2016, before returning to Oklahoma, where he now lives with his wife and four children.
His new book will be available at Church Street Coffee and Books in Mountain Brook and on Amazon as well as other online outlets. Wedge will be selling copies of it during the Rickwood Classic on May 30, when the Barons take on the Chattanooga Lookouts at 12:30 p.m. Later that day, he will be selling books at 5:30 p.m. at the Good People Brewery Company.
Wedge will be at Emmet O’Neal Library in Mountain Brook at 2 p.m. on May 31 for a discussion and book signing. He hopes “Papa Jack” will be able to join him.
“I’m trying to coax him to be there and talk,” Wedge said with a laugh. ❖