The third book in my baseball letters trilogy is called Something to Write Home About (Random House, 2003). My two previous books, Baseball Letters (1996) and Every Pitcher Tells a Story, consist of handwritten letters from baseball players responding to questions that I had asked them about specific moments in their lives, both on or off the field.
For Something to Write Home About, I wanted to not only get the ballplayers to write some great inside stories, but to also include individuals who hadn't played the game, but who had a neat story or remembrance. I received letters from President George W. Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy, Bob Costas, actor Elliot Gould, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Peter Tork of the pop group The Monkees, Babe Ruth's almost 90-year-old daughter Julia Ruth Stevens, Martin Luther King's personal photographer and even a girl named Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, whose lifelong goal was to meet a guy named Alex Fenway-Park, so that they could swap stories about their unique names!.
As I was putting the book together, in October, 2001, I was watching the Yankees play in a playoff game. As I watched, the camera focused in on Sir Paul McCartney. He was at the game with his then fiancee Heather Mills. During the 7th inning stretch, they blasted The Beatles hit I Saw Her Standing There over the stadium loudspeakers. The cameraman caught McCartney getting up, mouthing the words and dancing joyfully to his song. It was a fun and impromptu moment.
The next day, I sent a letter to Sir Paul (no, I don't know him) asking him how he became a baseball fan and whether he enjoyed hearing one of his songs over the speakers at Yankee Stadium. In my letter, I explained the purpose of my book and expressed my desire to include his letter in it. Less than a month later (it was a Saturday), my doorbell rang. Standing on the porch was a Fed-Ex delivery man. As I took the package, I glanced at the address and saw that it was from McCartney's company in London. Paul had written back! I screamed to my wife: "This is Paul McCartney's letter!" Then, I tore open the envelope, excited to read it. Since I had told McCartney of my book, I was particularly thrilled because this letter signified that he thought enough of my work to want to participate in it.
Two items in his letter struck me immediately. The first was "Dear Seth." (I tried to imagine him sitting down in a quiet room and addressing a letter to me!) The second was when he wrote the word "Yeah." I thought McCartney writing the word "Yeah" was like Thomas Edison writing the words "light bulb" to a fan from his day.
Click here to see Liz Smith's column about McCartney's letter.