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The Hall Ball: Finding the Famous and Obscure

Hall Ball (primary)

by Mark Jent

When my friend Willie Steele asked me earlier this year if I’d like to write another book review to be published in the fall edition of the NINE Journal, I very gladly said yes! Willie is the editor of NINE and has been a great encouragement on my journey the past few years. (My first was on The Wax Pack from the spring edition. Click here to read: Published, A Personal First.) As I perused over the list of book options to read and write about, I was immediately drawn to another book about a baseball road trip adventure – The Hall Ball, by Ralph Carhart.

Back in 2010 while visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Carhart finds an old tattered, worn out baseball near in a creek beside Doubleday Field. Little did he know that this single ball would lead him on a nearly decade long journey in combining his passions of baseball and grave chasing. What started out as a quest to take a picture of the ball on the grave of every deceased Hall of Famer, eventually led him to asking living Hall of Famers to pose with the ball too. Some were creeped out by it, others nonchalantly obliged, while some were excited for his quest.

Reggie Jackson with The Hall Ball

Carhart traveled on dirt back roads across America to find many of his subjects. He found himself in Arizona outside the cryogenics lab where Ted Williams head is frozen and he even traveled to a deserted beach in Puerto Rico near the site of Roberto Clemente’s plane crash where his remains were never recovered. From Babe Ruth’s tombstone in New York, to a remote cemetery in nowhere Idaho, Carhart’s grit and determination to complete his mission is admirable and awesome!

I connected with Carhart via Twitter (@ralphcarhart) last year after I received the assignment for his book and have enjoyed staying connected with him ever since. I reached out to him recently to ask what has been a highlight of releasing a book that was a decade in the works, he said, “The greatest thrill is meeting someone who connects with the book in some way. Having them reach out to let me know that the book meant something to them, or to a relative.”

Like most authors who have released books since the pandemic began, promotions and appearances have been challenging. This was no different for Carhart, “I did not expect the book to be a bestseller, but I know that if I could have released it in more normal times I would have had an easier time marketing and promoting it. Zoom is helpful but no public appearances spelled doom.”

Left: the table of contents. Right: the beginning of my 1,100 word review

My book review is just one of many in this fall edition of the NINE Journal. Also included are many original pieces of literature about baseball history. Click here to see a partial excerpt of my review.

Looking for a gift for that baseball fan in your life? You can purchase The Hall Ball directly from Ralph Carhart himself for $29.95 by contacting him either via Twitter or by emailing him thehallballproject@gmail.com. Or you can visit your local bookstore or online retailer.

To buy a copy of the NINE Journal, visit the University of Nebraska Press website! It is edition 29:1-2.

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