Editor’s Note: When I was introduced to Todd Fertig, I was working with someone that knew his family through church. She told me of the recent employment change and showed me “The Desperate Houseguys“. These gentlemen, faced with adversity, found a way to have a little fun and keep their focus. Todd has been exactly what I-70 Baseball looks for in our writers and we all wish him a happy anniversary this week. – Bill Ivie
On October 28, 2010, I-70 Baseball.com saved my life.
Ok, that might be a stretch. Don’t picture me like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, experimenting with various approaches to snuffing out my existence.
But a year ago right now, I was certainly in need of something to lift my spirits. I had recently lost my job, couldn’t collect unemployment, and was scrambling to keep food on the table while hunting for my next real job.
I had been working for months to launch a second career as a freelance writer. Suddenly I found myself without a FIRST career. I was working every gig I could land – painting houses, substitute teaching, stocking shelves.
I had been peddling my writing services everywhere I could, but with limited success. Then out of the blue came the invitation – “How would you like to write articles about the Kansas City Royals for a website?”
Advice experienced writers often give to beginners is “write about what interests you.” Not exactly profound, and not necessarily the secret to success, but in my case it was a no-brainer.
My first assignment, a tryout of sorts, was to provide some kind of analysis of the Jose Guillen trade. Not like the Royals really needed to get anything in exchange for that dead weight, but they did receive Kevin Pucetas. Pucetas may not ever make it to the big leagues, but he’ll always have a special place in my heart – the subject of my first I-70 Baseball.com article.
Suddenly I had found myself reading, researching and thinking about my favorite team in all of professional sports. It was a diversion from my troubles, and something to give me hope for the future. I was writing, and I could tell other people to read what I had written. A door was opened.
Since that first article a year ago, I’ve found many other opportunities to write for publication – full-time, part-time, freelance. Some of the gigs have been fun, fulfilling and rewarding. But none is as enjoyable as writing about the Royals.
The highlights of the past year have been many. I interviewed Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue on the Royals Caravan. I interviewed Jeff Montgomery for a two-part feature. I interviewed several Double-A stars who are on the brink of the big leagues. I met with my counterparts at a baseball blog-writers conference.
Probably my most significant success came during the website’s focus on Black History Month. I dug out an article I’d written 20 years earlier – an interview with Negro League star George Giles. I turned it into an updated two-part feature that garnered some attention.
But it hasn’t been the interviews or events or successes that have made I-70 Baseball.com an important part of my life. It’s been the simple enjoyment that comes from sitting down with a book, a magazine, or computer, and thinking about something unimportant, yet beautiful.
In the grand scheme of things, baseball doesn’t rival paying the bills, finding a job, or parenting and being a good husband. But when those things become really challenging, writing about baseball can be a lifesaver.