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Zach Fredericks has spent his entire life dreaming of becoming a Major League Baseball player, and everything has gone according to plan until now. In his third year with the Birmingham Barons, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, he's started the year in a slump and is in danger of being released.
He is not about to let that happen and he will do whatever it takes to keep his dream alive. Zach's best friend, Manny, tells him to be patient and involve himself with something other than baseball, but he won't listen, sure that any change from the plan will only hurt him. It's clear that he has to do something, but how far will he go and what are the consequences?
A chance meeting with a beautiful college student named Sarah provides Zach with the balance that his life has been missing and he finally starts to realize his true potential. But Zach holds a secret that can change his life forever if anyone found out. Is it too late for him? Will the mistakes of the past catch up with Zach and cost him both his dream of making the major leagues and a shot at love?
Patrick Rockenbach delivers an inside look at professional baseball and the lengths one man will go to achieve his dream to escape the Double A Blues.
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Zach Fredericks always had a plan. Once he had his mind set on something he did whatever was necessary to accomplish his goal. One of his first memories was when he was about five years old and got a baseball set for Christmas. He had been nagging his mom for weeks so when he tore open the wrapping paper he could barely contain his excitement. He didn't get many presents but his mom always came through with what he really wanted.
When he closed his eyes he could still picture the red bat, blue tee and white ball. Up to then he had been using an old broom handle and trying to hit the rocks he found among the flower beds in the back yard. He had seen some older kids playing ball in the street and wanted to join in, but he didn't really know how to play so he just watched.
Truth was, this set was probably for someone a few years younger than Zach but he didn't mind. He took it into the backyard and tried to hit the ball. At first, he was lucky to just make contact and even then, the ball would only roll a few feet away. He struggled with holding the bat and focusing on the ball. The big kids made it look so easy. It was going to take a lot of work, but he was determined.
He would put the bat down, walk over to the ball, pick it up, walk back to the tee and hit it again. Hour after hour, day after day, he would spend his afternoons hitting that ball. He really didn't have much else to do, he was an only child and his mom worked from home and usually sent him outside to play so she could work in peace. He didn't see his dad much, he travelled a lot for work and when he was home he spent most of his time on the couch watching TV.
He didn't mind being alone, in fact after a while he preferred it, and he loved hitting that ball. Eventually, he started to hit it farther and his goal became to hit it over the neighbor's fence. At first the ball simply rolled to the base of the fence. Over time he started to hit the ball harder and it consistently hit the fence. Each day Zach would wake up and think that today's the day he would hit the ball over that fence.
Then one day, if he closed his eyes he could still see it, the ball actually sailed over the fence. He dropped the bat and took a victory lap around the yard. First base was the flower bed, second base a hole in the ground, third base the lemon tree and home plate the worn out patch of grass the tee sat on. As he rounded the imaginary bases he didn't think he could ever be happier. He had set a goal and by working hard he had achieved it. It was the defining moment of his life because he knew then what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a major league baseball player.
His joy was short lived when he realized he now had to go over to Mr. McNelson's house to get his ball back, but he never forgot the feeling when the ball sailed over the fence that first time. That memory had kept him going through some pretty rough times, including his parent's divorce. It was hard to believe that one moment from so long ago had been such a big influence on his life.
Now, many years later here he was living the dream. Well, not quite the dream since he wasn't in the majors yet, but he was a minor league baseball player. He played for the Birmingham Barons and right now he was in the on deck circle waiting for his turn to hit and staring out at a very tough pitcher that had already gotten him out three times tonight. Funny, Zach had faced him before at a lower level and had hit him pretty hard. Oh well, everyone gets better, that came with the territory. If you wanted to make it to the big leagues you had to put in a lot of work and beat the best along the way.
His plan, as always, was to try and hit the ball back up the middle. He usually got in trouble when he tried to pull pitches and either popped up or grounded out weakly to the infield. He had never been one to change his routine, but he had tinkered with his batting stance all during spring training and had yet to feel comfortable at the plate.
It had been a tough couple of games to start off the new season and he was anxious to get on base. Maybe a little too anxious, he thought as he swung the bat back and forth while he watched his buddy Joe at the plate. Some guys made it look so easy. Take a pitch or two and smack the ball into the outfield, no big deal.
Sure enough, Joe sent a one and one pitch into the gap in left center and pulled into second base standing up. Amazing. The guy never seemed to break a sweat; he just hit lines drives all over the field like it was nothing. They said some guys could roll out of bed on Christmas morning and hit lines drives. Joe would fit right into that club.
This was Joe's first year with the Barons but at the rate he was going he would move up to the triple A Charlotte Knights by the end of the season. Who knows, maybe he could even get called up to the big leagues and finish the year in Chicago with the White Sox. It happened before, a player on the big league club gets hurt and the team needs someone to fill in for a few weeks. For some guys that became their only chance, for others, they made the most of the opportunity and stayed up for good.
Yeah, one way or another Joe would get his shot. He could even play multiple positions and that always helped. He was a little more seasoned than Zach; after all, Joe had spent two years at the University of Arizona. He was selected by the White Sox in the third round of the draft three years ago. He wasn't exactly a blue chip prospect but some guys just had a way about them, some people would call it cocky, but it was really just confidence. Yeah, Joe would make it someday because talent always got you a shot. Sometimes injuries would sidetrack even the best players but if you at least got a chance anything could happen.
A chance is all that Zach wanted. It had been a long five years in the minors already and here he was stuck in Birmingham again. Unlike Joe, he didn't go to college and wasn't selected until the 21st round of the draft. He didn't receive a big signing bonus and had to struggle to make ends meet in the off season working a regular job. He still lived at home with his mom, not the most exciting prospect for a 23 year old man. But most guys he was drafted with were already out of the game so he had already beaten the odds to get this far.
It was a funny business. Even though you were teammates, there was always that underlying competition that made things a little tense. Sure, you wanted everyone to do well because you wanted to win, but it always stung a little bit when you saw someone get called up before you. This was going to be Zach's third year with the Barons and if he didn't move up a level this year it meant his development had stalled and he could end up getting released.
Patrick Rockenbach has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years but his dream growing up was to be a writer. After many years of thinking about writing a book, Double A Blues represents his first attempt at putting the stories that have swirled around in his head to paper. A lifelong Los Angeles Dodgers fan, it is only fitting that his first book is centered around baseball. Written primarily on an Ipad, Double A Blues took about eight months to write.
Patrick received his BA in Communications from California State University Fullerton. He lives in Whittier, California, with his wife, Nilda, and their three sons, Dylan, Bryan, and Adrian. While work and family life keep him busy, you can usually find his family somewhere around a baseball field every Spring and Summer.
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Book Description Tate Publishing, 2013. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1625637942
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Book Description Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2013. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. 264 pages. 8.80x5.80x0.70 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # 1625637942