PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Redlands, B.A.; Attended University of California at Berkeley.
ADDRESSES: Home—1565 Rose St., Berkeley, CA 94703. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of California at Berkeley, Upward Bound program, Berkeley, composition instructor; high school history, English, and psychology instructor; social worker for San Bernardino County, CA; drug abuse counselor and program administrator for City of Berkeley Health Department. Also worked variously as translator for an independent film company in Spain, co-manager of a dry cleaning business, consultant and program administrator for Educational Testing Service, and consultant for California State Department of Education.
If I Never Get Back, Crown (New York, NY), 1990.
Havana Heat, Total Sports (New York, NY), 2000.
Two in the Field, Plume (New York, NY), 2002.
Also contributor to books, including Splash Hit! Pacific Bell Park and the San Francisco Giants, Chronicle Books, 2001; and The Heavenly World Series: Timeless Baseball Fiction, Carroll & Graf, 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including Sports Illustrated, Baseball Research Journal, Sports Heritage, and National Pastime.
ADAPTATIONS: If I Never Get Back was optioned for film by Golden Door Productions.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Ten Angels Swearing and Hemingway's Passport, both novels.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist Darryl Brock writes books that examine the history of sports (especially baseball) and places these athletic pursuits in the context of their times. His first novel, If I Never Get Back, takes a tired twentieth-century journalist named Sam Fowler and tosses him back into the world of post-Civil War America, where Fowler becomes involved in the inaugural tour of the country's first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. "Fowler, having a thin time of it in the 20th century, is plunked into a situation in which his only problems are day-to-day adventures," John Skow stated in Time. "His lifting of mood coincides with that of the reader, whose cynicism about sports drops away as these 19th century men delightedly play their boys' game." Eventually Fowler becomes a kind of gopher for the team, collecting tickets, counting receipts, and occasionally lifting a bat to replace an injured player. In the process he introduces the bunt to the game, and also experiences other events in late nineteenth-century America, including a run-in with humorist Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and political plots by Irish Fenian revolutionists.
"Mixing fantasy and historical fact, this episodic plot generates a panorama of an America in flux, an America looking for an identity but moving too fast to fix on one," wrote Peter Carino in a review of If I Never Get Back for Nine. "Baseball is a part of this identity, as the Red Stockings become some of the nation's first popular culture celebrities." Fowler takes another trip into the past in Two in the Field, as the shock of an automobile accident sends returns him to nineteenth-century America, where he tries to rekindle his affair with Caitlin O'Neill, a woman romanced in If I Never Get Back.
In Havana Heat Brock tells the story of another historic baseball team, John McGraw's 1911 New York Giants, as seen through the eyes of deaf player Luther "Dummy" Taylor. As Steve Gietschier explained in his Nine review of the novel, "Born in Oskaloosa, Kansas, Taylor, a pitcher, made the majors in 1900, and won 116 games over a nine-year career, mostly with John McGraw's Giants." As the novel opens Taylor is recovering from physical problems that prevented him from playing during the regular season, and he makes a special effort to be allowed to accompany the Giants on their post-season tour of Cuba. Taylor not only vindicates himself in the Cuban tour, he also gets the chance to mentor a young Cuban player at the beginning of his career. In the end, however, "Luther must choose between the sporting spirit of baseball and the man who could give him his heart's desire," com-mented Marylaine Block in Library Journal. "Havana Heat is a beautiful book," Gietschier concluded. "Its life-affirming story brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kliatt, March, 2003, Michael P. Healy, review of Two in the Field, p. 30.
Library Journal, May 1, 2000, Marylaine Block, review of Havana Heat, p. 151.
Nine, fall, 2000, Peter Carino, "Triple Play," p. 83; Steve Gietschier, review of Havana Heat, p. 116.
Publishers Weekly, December 22, 1997, Paul Nathan, "Time Tricks," p. 19; March 6, 2000, review of Havana Heat, p. 84; September 2, 2002, review of Two in the Field, p. 56.
Time, February 12, 1990, John Skow, review of If I Never Get Back, p. 66.