May 22, 2018

Things I Wish I Could Have Gotten into the Comic Book Story of Baseball, Part 1

Having only 176 pages to work with, I couldn't come close to cramming in every baseball story I wanted to tell. So, to get some of these regrets off my chest, I'll post once in a while about other great baseball-related stuff I ran across while researching The Comic Book Story of Baseball...but couldn't get into the final book.

Here are the first three:

Baseball Comics #1, Will Eisner's sadly ill-fated 1949 attempt to start up an ongoing baseball comic. The story of Rube Rooky and his rough-and-tumble journey from backwoods iceman to the World Series is superb Eisner. (Is there any other kind?)

The story of Jackie Mitchell, who as a 17-year-old girl struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition while pitching for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. (Although it may have been a publicity stunt.) Two years later, she would sign up for the House of David barnstorming team.

Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, the official mud used to dirty up baseballs before they're used in a game. The exact source of the mud is a secret. It is named after Russell "Lena" Blackburne, a manager and coach for the White Sox and Athletics, who starting applying it to balls in 1938.

May 14, 2018

Black Friday Art

Check out this cool Kyle Stecker art for my short story "Black Friday," due to appear May 30 at

May 8, 2018

Play Ball!

The Comic Book Story of Baseball is out today! Thanks to Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith for making it look so good, Jason Yarn for his indefatigable agenting, Patrick Barb and Chloe Rawlins for their sharp editorial and design work -- and you for reading.

What's that, you say? You would like to purchase a copy? Well, here's a way to find the book at your local independent bookseller via IndieBound.

Or here's the Amazon link.

And if you're going to pick it up at a comic shop (it won't be there until tomorrow), here's a handy Comic Shop Locator.

Need some convincing? Here are a few early reviews...

“Marvel comics veterans Coker and Smith deliver powerful graphics, tinted lightly with color for a marvelous vintage effect, while Irvine orchestrates a brief, masterly overview of this morale-boosting sport. Fans of any age will love.” -- Library Journal

". . . a lively and accessible chronicle of America’s pastime, with panels that crack and wallop with image and fact." -- Boston Globe

"Heroes, villains, long odds, and tall-tales: baseball history should always be presented in comic book form. The Comic Book Story of Baseball is probably the most accessible history of the game I've ever held in my hands. I'd recommend this little gem to anyone who wants to learn the history of the game and its colorful characters." -- Dirk Hayhurst, former Major League pitcher and author of The Bullpen Gospel

"Two great American art forms collide in The Comic Book Story of Baseball, and the result is a sprawling, comprehensive, tremendously fun look at the national pastime. It’s all here, from the Babe to Buckner, billy goats to Barry Bonds. Writer Alex Irvine and artists Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith exalt baseball’s triumphs while reckoning with its sins, and the result is a rich, thorough history that you’ll return to again and again, just like the grand old game itself." -- Jay Busbee, lead writer for Yahoo Sports

May 7, 2018

Baseball Countdown Numbers

If you were following along and perhaps wondering who some of the players were in the countdown to The Comic Book Story of Baseball's launch, here's a complete list:

60 Dallas Keuchel
59 Todd Jones
58 Jonathan Papelbon
57 Johan Santana
56 Mark Buerhle
55 Orel Hershiser
54 Goose Gossage
53 Don Drysdale
52 CC Sabathia
51 Ichiro Suzuki
50 Sid Fernandez
49 Ron Guidry
48 Torii Hunter
47 Jack Morris
46 Lee Smith
45 Bob Gibson
44 Hank Aaron
43 Dennis Eckersley
42 Jackie Robinson
41 Tom Seaver
40 Oscar Charleston
39 Roy Campanella
38 Curt Schilling
37 Casey Stengel
36 Gaylord Perry
35 Rickey Henderson
34 Kirby Puckett
33 Eddie Murray
32 Sandy Koufax
31 Dave Winfield
30 Nolan Ryan
29 Toni Stone
28 Bert Blyleven
27 Juan Marichal
26 Billy Williams
25 Satchel Paige
24 Willie Mays
23 Kirk Gibson
22 Jim Palmer
21 Roberto Clemente
20 Frank Robinson
19 Bob Feller
18 Darryl Strawberry
17 Dizzy Dean
16 Whitey Ford
15 Dick Allen
14 Ernie Banks
13 Dave Concepcion
12 Roberto Alomar
11 Sparky Anderson
10 Rusty Staub
9 Ted Williams
8 Martin Dihigo
7 Mickey Mantle
6 Stan Musial
5 Albert Pujols
4 Lou Gehrig
3 Babe Ruth
2 Buck Leonard
1 Sadaharu Oh

Apr 27, 2018

Walt Whitman and Baseball

This is one of my favorite panels from The Comic Book Story of Baseball. (Whitman did say this, and reflected on baseball at other moments as well.)

There are some more sample spreads at the book's Amazon page. (But if you can order local, please do.)

Apr 16, 2018

Forthcoming Work: Baseball, Halo, Stories

Here's a quick rundown of new stuff I've got coming out in the next few months:

May 8: The Comic Book Story of Baseball
May 30: "Black Friday," a story on
June 6: Halo: Collateral Damage #1
July: Halo: Collateral Damage #2
August: Halo: Collateral Damage #3
Sometime in 2018: "The Atonement Path," a story in Lightspeed

Mar 30, 2018

New Lineup for Yesterday

Inspired by the legendary Ogden Nash doggerel "Lineup for Yesterday," and by Opening Day, and by all the research sloshing around in my head from writing The Comic Book Story of Baseball:

after Ogden Nash

A is for Alan, who turned two with Lou
As well as any pair ever could do.

B is for Brett, who once hit .390
But became better known for the pain in his heinie.

C is for Cabrera, Miguel of renown
The slowest man ever to win a Triple Crown.

D is for Dewey, whose cannon in right
Made runners in Fenway hold up out of fright.

E is for Edgar, DH without peer
At least until David Ortiz’s career.

F is for Fernando, the Dodgers’ El Toro
A legend from Chavez Ravine to Queretaro.

G is for Gibby, in Detroit and LA
A World Series hero revered to this day.

H is for Henderson, one of a kind
As Rickey would tell you, sure, Rickey won’t mind.

I is for Ichiro, needing only one name
And hit after hit to add to his fame.

J is for Jeter, despite his numb glove
The Yankee that haters of Yankees could love.

K is for Kid, not Williams but Griffey
Whose hitting was epic and fielding was spiffy.

L is for Larkin, the Cincy shortstop
A true model sportsman, the cream of the crop.

M is for Maddux, and Murray and Manny
It’s poetic injustice! The M’s are so many!

N is for Nolan, the Ryan Express
Seven no-hitters stand out from the rest.

O is for Ozzie, the Wizard so-called
Whose backflips and dives had spectators enthralled.

P is for Pedro, the littlest ace
The best pound-for-pound, a terror to face.

Q is for Quisenberry, KC’s submariner
Who piled up saves and kept basepaths cleaner.

R is for Ripken, the new Iron Horse
2632’s what he’s known for, of course.

S is for Steroid, the reason is clear
Why A-Rod and Barry and Big Mac aren’t here.

T is for Thome, whose bat always thundered
His number of home runs is north of 600.

U is for Uecker, not much of a catcher
But a broadcaster and pitchman of much greater stature.

V is for Verlander, Tiger fireballer
In Detroit or Houston, a sure-fire Hall’er.

W is for Wade, who found chicken delicious
No other great player was so superstitious.

X is for Expos, who found Montreal
A place where no one would watch them play ball.

Y is for Yount, the Rockin’est Robin
Milwaukee just isn’t the same without him.

And Z is for Zim, a forgettable player
But a memorable coach and dugout soothsayer.

Sep 15, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Baseball

Look at this beauty of a cover for The Comic Book Story of Baseball.

It's a full-length graphic history of the game from stool ball through yesterday's box scores, with art by Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith. I'll share pages as I can, but right now I'm basking in the cover (and wondering if the Indians are ever going to lose).

The book is out May 8 from Ten Speed Press, but you can preorder it now through the retailer of your choice via this Penguin Random House page.

If you are a baseball journalist, broadcaster, player, or marketing person, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter (@alexirvine) and I'll try to make sure you get a copy.

Jan 19, 2017

An Inauguration Fiction


There wasn’t much of a fuss. They came by and took my neighbor in. His name was Abdul, he was from Afghanistan, used to tell me stories about fighting the Soviets. One time he was drunk and showed me some bullet scars. We were talking soccer another time and he said he watched the 1986 World Cup from a Tehran jail, or maybe it was 1990. I never did find out what he was in for. But anyway, they came for him today. I was outside getting the mail and I saw him walking out with the men. Two of them, and two more waiting by the van. Abdul’s wife Courtney stood on the porch. He’s got a kid, Elijah, used to play with my kids but not so much anymore. They have different interests now. For a minute I thought they were going to take Elijah too, but I guess he was still too young.

I thought about saying something, but at the same time, what do you really know? I mean, people say things. It’s all Wikileaks or the Russians or somebody, I mean who knows. It’s all just a temporary thing. I like Abdul. He’s kind of an asshole sometimes—he got a dog one time and then gave it back to the shelter when it wasn’t housebroken soon enough—but he’s a good neighbor. When his dad died we brought him food, and when our younger children were born he and Courtney brought over some really nice baby outfits. A good guy. Always on me to hire his crew to paint my house.

Funny thing is Abdul was good friends with the one serious conspiracy kook on the block, Larry. Larry’s got an arsenal in his basement. He and Abdul used to get together and talk guns. Larry's always all taxes this and immigrants that, loud talk radio coming from his garage all the time like he really needs us to know how he feels about things. Ever notice nobody listens to that stuff at a low volume? But he liked Abdul. Just goes to show you.

They let Abdul finish his cigarette. He stood at the end of his driveway regarding the butt. The four men looked everywhere but at Courtney. “Abdul, hey, man,” I called across the street when he caught my eye.

“Alex, my friend,” he said. “Everything okay.” They ducked his head into the van. I almost said something. But what would it have been? I mean, we don’t really know what’s happening.