For many athletes, playing on high school sports teams is where their dreams begin to come into fruition. They play their hearts out in front of large crowds, and if they play well they become hometown heroes. It is the springboard to getting drafted into college teams, then the major leagues and possibly a shot at a championship.
It is this early excitement that author James Garrett captures in his newest book, “One Great Season 9-0!”
Garrett, a 1961 graduate of Benicia High School who also taught history, science and philosophy there for 27 years, has published three books: “Benicia and Letters of Love,” “The Mansion Stories” and “Chief Salt.” For his fourth book, Garrett chose to tell the story of an undefeated football team from a small town high school in the early ‘60s. It is a subject Garrett knows plenty about. After all, he played for the Panthers when he attended Benicia High.
“I think the novel could be called historical fiction,” Garrett said. “For example, the first line in a paragraph may be exactly historically correct, and the remainder of the paragraph be totally from my imagination. I took thoughts of when I played football at Benicia High School, and changed, mixed and re-arranged things to tell the story. Everyone in the novel is a composite of people I have known.”
“One Great Season 9-0!” tells the story of the fictional Homestead High School Mavericks varsity football team who manage to notch a perfect nine-game season in the fall of 1960. This captures the attention of a retired former sports editor for the Heritage News who writes a series of six articles about the undefeated team.
The book is 96 pages long and is stylized to resemble a collection of newspaper clippings.
“like that unique touch and connection,” Garrett said. “It gives the book a scrapbook feeling, part of the going back in time. It is part of my attempt at preserving (and) recreating history, not living in the past.”
Fittingly, the book is dedicated to Bob Silva, a former sports editor and editor-in-chief of the Benicia Herald.
As with his previous books, Garrett and his wife Roberta opted to have the book put out by online self-publishing company Outskirts Press Publishing rather than the traditional route.
“A few years back I stopped dealing with the regular publishing process because my books would not be allowed to be published as I wished,” he said. “I wanted the freedom of creativity. ”
Garrett is proud of all the work that went into the book, especially his capturing of an era.
“I'm proud of the fact I believe I have allowed people to return to another place in time which they either personally experienced, regret not being part of or of which they have nostalgic thoughts,” he said. “Creating a season of nine games as realistically as possible, including statistics, is something that gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Garrett says his book is sure to instill feelings of warmth to people who can connect to small town athletics.
“Many people across the United States enjoy high school football,” he said. “Many relate to another time, a simpler time. Many of those people reside here in Benicia. They played on Sanborn Field, the inspirational site of the fictional Homestead Field. If not, maybe their predecessors, or later their children did.”
“I hope the readers take away a warm feeling from their reading of the book and that they return to it from time-to-time,” he said.