AWARD-WINNING PLAYWRIGHT AND AUTHOR TELLS STORY OF SHOELESS JOE 100 YEARS LATER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GREENWICH, CT – EMMY-nominated playwright and author Granville Wyche Burgess is releasing his latest title, “The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe” (May 1, 2019, Chickadee Prince Books). Set to release in time for the 100th anniversary of the Black Sox Scandal which ended Shoeless Joe’s professional baseball career in disgrace, Burgess imagines another chance for Shoeless Joe to make sports history.
In the small town of Greenville, South Carolina, Jimmy Roberts realizes his only chance at escaping his grueling job at a textile mill is to become a better baseball player in hopes of making it to the major leagues. Desperate for help, Jimmy turns to Shoeless Joe Jackson, offering the infamous player a shot at redemption. Good and evil collide in the world of sports as Burgess explores themes of injustice, family, and second chances.
Granville Wyche Burgess is the author of the acclaimed Rebecca Zook series of novels. He has also received awards from the CBS/Foundation for the Dramatist Guild, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His plays and musicals have been performed throughout the United States, including his musical, Conrack, which had a sold-out run at Ford’s Theatre and was attended by President George H.W. Bush and the first lady, Barbara Bush, and Common Ground, a musical about Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, which was a finalist in the New York New Works Theatre Festival. He is CEO of Quill Entertainment Company, a charitable company whose mission is “Teaching America’s Heritage Through Story and Song.”
“[Jackson] is now the subject of a remarkable new novel by Granville Wyche Burgess. With a grand slam plot wrapped in lyrical and whimsical prose, Burgess gives us the grit and glory of old time baseball, poignantly reviving the spirit of a fallen hero.”
— Raymond Arsenault, author of Arthur Ashe, a Life
“In Granville Wyche Burgess’ new novel, Shoeless Joe Jackson of Black Sox fame comes alive in a most ingenious way. He becomes involved in a struggle between good and evil, and in the end you root for him to become the hero he might have become had dark forces not ended his baseball career. If you love baseball, you’ll love this book.”
— New York Times bestselling author Peter Golenbock
“The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe: A Novel”
Granville Wyche Burgess | May 1, 2019 | Chickadee Prince Books
Paperback | 9781732913912 | Price: $12.99
Ebook | 9781732913912 | Price: $6.99
In an interview, Sande Boritz Berger can discuss:
- The Black Sox Scandal and why he believes Shoeless Joe Jackson was wrongly accused
- His experience writing EMMY nominated soap opera Capitol and what inspired him to start the nonprofit Quill Entertainment Company
- His career as an author writing plays, acclaimed Amish fiction series Rebecca Zook, and now historical fiction
An Interview with Granville Wyche Burgess
What inspired you to write his story and why now?
When I played baseball as a youth in 1950’s Greenville, SC, nobody ever mentioned that Joe Jackson, whom some considered the “greatest natural hitter of all time,” lived in my hometown! Such was animus towards Shoeless Joe because of the Black Sox scandal. I think Joe himself wanted to keep a low profile. Years later, when I read about the scandal, I became convinced of Joe’s innocence and wanted to put the truth, as I saw it, out into the world. An added plus: I love baseball, I think it’s a great game! As to why now, what better way to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Black Sox scandal than to publish a novel about it?
You believe that Shoeless Joe is innocent in the Black Sox Scandal. What makes you draw this conclusion?
First of all, we have Joe’s word, and there is nothing I have read about this Christian man that would lead me to believe he is a liar. Joe went to his grave believing “The Supreme Being will be my judge.” He says he told Comiskey about the fix and Comiskey ignored him—and plenty of what I have read about Comiskey would lead me to believe he was primarily interested in protecting his reputation and his money. As someone who could neither read nor write, I believe Comiskey’s lawyer, Alfred Austrian, tricked Joe into testifying the way he did. He certainly got him to sign a waiver of immunity that he could not read. What many people do not remember is that in a 1924 trial where Joe sued Comiskey for back pay, a jury believed him and awarded him the money. Then the judge, noting discrepancies in Joe’s 1920 testimony and his 1924 testimony, overturned the decision. What is indisputable is that Joe Jackson played his heart out in that World Series: no errors, the only home run, a .375 batting average, and 12 hits, which stood as the record until 1964.
Growing up in times of segregation, what draws you to stories about injustice, specifically this one?
Growing up, I saw the injustice of segregation all around me, from Whites Only drinking fountains to the squalid housing of what was euphemistically called “Nickletown.” Also, I was familiar with the ethos of the people who, like Joe, worked in a textile mill: they worked hard hours, loved their families and their communities, and were very religious. I was drawn to this story not only because I think Joe is innocent, but also because I think his hometown should celebrate, not ignore, this iconic baseball player. Happily, they now have. There is a Shoeless Joe statue in downtown Greenville and a Joe Jackson museum across from the minor-league ballpark.
What are some similarities and differences you find between writing plays and novels?
For me, the main similarity between writing plays and writing novels is story, story, story! I love a good story and try to write something that has people constantly wondering “What happens next?” As a playwright, I tell the whole story in dialogue, and dialogue is an important part of my novel-writing. I believe it is harder to depict character in playwriting because action is the best means of depicting character, and action in the theatre is limited. I can’t have a baseball game onstage—or at least only in a very limited way. I can’t do a scene sliding down a rocky river, as I do in the novel. Finally, the sheer number of words you can use writing a novel makes it a form in which one can more easily expand upon ideas and where one can spend time describing scenes and, especially, the inner emotional life of a character than one can in playwriting. I find the restrictions inherent in dramatic writing make it a much more difficult genre, for me, than narrative fiction, where I can let the words more easily flow.