Rooting for the 'home' team

Williamsport author pens book about New Market Rebels team

May 01, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • "Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley" by Williamsport author Austin Gisriel is a nonfiction account of the New Market (Va.) Rebels' 2009 baseball season.

Williamsport resident Austin Gisriel was so fixated with a baseball team in New Market, Va., that he's written a book about them.

"Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley," is a nonfiction account of the New Market Rebels 2009 season and how the team energizes the town each season. The team is comprised of college players who use summer leagues to hone their skills when school's out.

The book was published by Augusta Free Press based in Waynesboro, Va.

Gisriel, 53, is a full-time freelance writer and avid baseball fan. He writes about the sport on his TypePad blog, "Baseball, Life and Other Stuff." As to why a Williamsport guy would write about a summer-league team in Virginia, Gisriel said it's the proverbial story behind the story.

"I had one woman tell me, 'I can't not go to the games. I can't miss what my summer sons (are) going to do,'" Gisriel said. "She treks up and down the Valley to make sure she sees her 'boy,' and that's not an uncommon attitude."


So you see it's more complicated than going out to the games and rooting for the home team, which is what attracted Gisriel to the story of the New Market Rebels.

"The town makes a big deal, in fact, of getting to know these kids as people and taking them into their homes whether they've finished last or won the championship. They are very disappointed to see that season over," Gisriel said.

When writing "Safe at Home," Gisriel said he thought his wife, Martha, would be a fair representative of his audience. She follows baseball, Gisriel said, has been to New Market, but she doesn't get into the technical details.

"She was a person who knew something about the game and that was about as far as it went," Gisriel said.

The 221-page book has photos from the New Market Rebel's season and is written as a first-person narrative, weaving together reams of interviews with townspeople, players, coaches and fans. By the end of the book, he hopes readers will have a new appreciation for their baseball heroes.

"I think we tend to forget, as fans, especially players at this age and with players in the minors such as the Suns, there's a great deal of fear involved on their part," Gisriel said.

Concerns like whether they're good enough to compete with their peers, whether they're good enough to go on to the next level and handle the fame and pressure that may come along with making it big, Gisriel said.

"I see errors now and I just have sympathy," Gisriel said. "Even if it's my team and it's costing the game, that guy, that player, is much more of a person to me."

If you buy ...

"Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley" by Williamsport author Austin Gisriel is available at:

o Extra Innings, 16038 Business Parkway, Hagerstown

Phone: 301-393-2668

o Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe, 18 N. Main St., Boonsboro

Phone: 301-432-4588

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