A change in career path
By Denise BarAN-UNLAND For The Herald-News August 16, 2012 12:32PM
Book cover of "The Ball Player" by Clay Snellgrove SUBMITTED PHOTOS
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:01AM
Former Joliet Jackhammers middle infielder Clay Snellgrove is writing stories with the same drive he once played minor league baseball.
That’s because, for Snellgrove, both are about pursuing dreams.
“In baseball, if you’re not in the big leagues by 24 or 25, you’re pretty much over the hill,” Snellgrove, now of Tennessee, said. “The good thing about writing is that I can keep doing it as long as my brain functions. I can take small steps and have more years chasing this dream.”
Snellgrove recently re-released his 2002 novel, “The Ballplayer” on Kindle, hoping he can reach even more readers. He is also working on a master of fine arts program in creative writing from Converse College in South Carolina and seeking the right market for two additional manuscripts.
For now, Snellgrove is content to blog (www.claysnellgrove.blogspot.com), write critical reviews of fiction for school and perfect the craft of writing. He also owns and operates Bases Loaded, a children’s baseball and softball school. In addition, Snellgrove works as an emergency medical technician.
“My overall goal is to continue publishing my work,” Snellgrove said. “I would love the validation of a major publishing house someday. I really want to leave my mark with multiple books read by thousands of readers and prove I’m more than just an athlete.”
Snellgrove has childhood memories of his mother insisting he set the baseball glove aside to complete writing assignments. These included newspaper-style stories, “eyewitness” history reports and song lyrics, which Snellgrove enjoyed once he began composing them.
So when Snellgrove completed his fifth season in pro baseball, he modestly furnished a small apartment, worked at waiting on tables and spent two hours each morning writing at his card table on an old laptop. As motivation, Snellgrove kept careful track of his word count.
After Snellgrove finished “The Ball Player,” he did contract an agent only to learn the publishing market, at the time, had little demand for a baseball novel. So Snellgrove self-published it, bought 1,000 copies and sold them at Bases Loaded.
This story about a gifted athlete and his experiences with the death of a friend, his love for the friend’s fiancé and his attempts to enter the big leagues, has resonated with people who simply enjoy a good story, Snellgrove said. Not all of its readers are baseball fans.
“Having to go on my own as an independent publisher has been challenging,” Snellgrove said, “but I have a good readership base and I’m able to keep in touch with them through social networking.”
Buy “The Ball Player” at www.amazon.com. For more information, visit www.claysnellgrove.com.