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Q&A with Joseph Sutton, Author of “The YEARS the Giants Won the Series”

1. Called a “love letter to baseball” by national radio sports show host Damon Bruce, what inspired you to write about the San Francisco Giants?  I’m an avid Giants fan, and since I’m a writer, many times I kill two birds with one stone by not only watching the games on TV but by writing my reaction to them as the game unfolds. When I’m working at my desk, I listen to the games with the volume on the radio turned low. When I’m out for a walk, I’m listening in on my portable radio.

2. Who is your favorite Giants player?  Angel Pagan, who is so valuable to the team as a leadoff hitter. He hits close to .280, and because of his speed, he can bunt, steal bases and field flawlessly in center field. Every so often he even hits a home run. Angel is how I saw myself as a baseball player before my career came to an abrupt end when I got hit in the head by a pitch in the days before batting helmets were worn. I love Angel’s hustle and his trademark salute to his teammates in the dugout whenever he gets on base.

3. Did coaching give you insight into how the Giants won two World Series?  As a coach, I learned that every player on the team had to hustle, not get down on himself and that giving up was unacceptable. From what the Giants accomplished in 2010 and 2012, I saw those same ingredients, especially their “never-say-die” attitude.

4. Did the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series help bring you closer to your adult son?  It brought us closer than ever. We watched many games on TV and at the ballpark. The Giants, over the years, have played a huge part in bonding the two of us.

5. How do you think sports can bring parents closer to their kids?  Coaching my son brought both thrills and frustration. Thrills when he made winning hits, great plays in the field or when he stole a base. Frustration when he got down on himself or was mired in a slump. That’s when I learned that I had to be more patient with him. The memory of going through the hard times and good times together will always be with us. Even though my son is an adult now, we still reminisce about those days.

6. Can watching the ups and downs of baseball help parents guide their children?  Baseball can teach children that there are good days and bad, glorious times and bumps in the road, and that many times things don’t go your way. Baseball, to me, is a symbol of life itself.

7. Does the concept of teamwork help in parents’ relationship with their children?  Teamwork is so important in sports and at home with the family. Teamwork is sharing the workload and supporting each other. Teamwork makes for a happy team and a happy family.

8. You wrote that it takes “fortitude, determination, perseverance, and luck to reach the majors.” Do you believe it takes the same to be a good parent?  By all means it takes all those qualities. I would add another word to that list: PATIENCE. Sometimes I was impatient with my son. Although a parent’s poor judgment can’t change the past, he or she can surely learn from it.

9. As a former college athlete, what do you think is the biggest challenge to success?  The biggest challenge is having confidence in your athletic ability. If you do well, your confidence rises. If you don’t do well, you lose confidence and get splinters sitting on the bench. I’ve experienced both!

10. Named as one of the top 10 baseball movies of all time by Baseball America, how do you think “Field of Dreams” shows how baseball bonds Fathers and Sons? There’s a famous line in the movie that Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, keeps hearing—“If you build it, he will come.” It took Costner the whole movie to find out that if he built a baseball field next to his cornfield, it would bring his father back in his life. Baseball is symbolic of how fathers and sons and fathers and daughters can connect and bond with each other.

11. It took 20 years to get your first book published. What did you learn from that?  I learned to never give up on something that I loved to do. My advice to other writers would be this: If you have a passion to write, no matter how gloomy things might seem, something will come of your writing if you persevere.

12. Out of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?   My favorite is probably my first published novel: Morning Pages: The Almost True Story of My Life. It’s about a writer trying to break out of a writer’s block and little does he know he’s broken out of it and is writing a novel. Writing that book was a revelation to me in that it didn’t take me as long to write and wasn’t as tortuous to write as my first three books of fiction. Ever since Morning Pages was published I’ve become more confident of my writing ability. Confidence, whether in sports or writing, is so important to possess.

13. Have you figured out what your next book will be?  I’m almost finished with two books. One is a collection of short stories; the other book details my experience of losing 50 pounds. It’ll be a thin book about my becoming slim, or a slim book about my becoming thin.

14. Besides helping readers relive the highlights of the San Francisco Giants two championship years, what is the main message you’d like people to take away from your book?  The Giants realized there was no “I” in team in those two World Series seasons, and that a team working together is more important than individual statistics, agendas and egos. Another important element was their “never-say-die” attitude. As for including my baseball relationship with my son in The YEARS the Giants Won the Series, I wanted to show how baseball can bring generations closer together.