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Former Crosscutter Eric Pettis releases book
April 12, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
Eric Pettis likes to be early whenever he has somewhere to be. Just being on time isn't good enough. And growing up in suburban Los Angeles, Pettis is used to having to leave early to battle potentially the country's worst traffic to make it to his destination when he wants to.
So when Pettis, fresh off of being selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 35th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft, was assigned to Williamsport, he was happy when his house mom Phyllis was more than happy to oblige his need to be early. She even offered to leave the house with Pettis and his roommate early in case of traffic.
"I think there were two cars that we had to wait for at a stop sign," Pettis said with a chuckle. "I'm used to it taking me an hour to drive 22 miles on the freeway. It was a little bit of adjustment coming to Williamsport."
Pettis, a former Williamsport Crosscutters starting and relief pitcher, recently released his first book, Just A Minor Perspective: Through The Eyes of a Minor League Rookie. The book, available for e-readers on Amazon.com, is a trip inside Pettis' first year of minor league baseball after being drafted out of UC Irvine.
But this isn't just a point-by-point book, this is a trip inside Pettis' head through the course of his first minor league season. That's what he wanted it to be. He understands people can do the research and find out what minor league life is like - from the bus trips, to the shoddy stadiums and the monotony of the day-to-day. What he wanted to express in his book was how he felt during the three-month journey, how he coped with the change in lifestyle of moving from suburban Los Angeles to a small town like Williamsport.
"Unless you experience it for yourself, you don't know what the feelings are," Pettis said. "I want to give readers the stream of consciousness I had and I wanted readers to experience it the same was I experienced it. Minor league baseball is a really unique thing. There's nothing really that's out there like this, and I think they enjoy feeling what I went through."
Pettis was encouraged to write the book by his aunt who is an author. He already had the base of the story with the stories he was sharing on his blog at www.ericpettis.com.
What he had in his blogs were the everyday goings on of minor league life without the emotional touch his book provides.
"The blogs really went through whatever I thought was important as we experienced it," Pettis said. "I looked at all the content I had and I just filled things in here and there and subtracted things here and there to make a coherent story."
Pettis' book contains his thoughts on the simpler parts of minor-league life - players eating a abundance of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - to the surreal, such as a prank leading to a player's release. Pettis didn't use the actual names of any of his teammates in the book, but the prank - in which former Cutters pitcher Kevin Angelle wrote two obscene words on a team autographed baseball - was Pettis' welcome to the business moment.
When Angelle was released in August 2010 following the incident, he had the second-best ERA (1.36) in the New York-Penn League behind just Pettis. In his book, Pettis describes the scene in then manager Chris Truby's office and the tension that existed as the coaching staff tried to find out who was responsible for writing the inappropriate words on the baseball.
"I think that story for me, that was the biggest thing to show that this was a business," Pettis said. "I could write about this being a business now. He was pitching great and his stats were just as good as mine and probably a little better. It was one little thing that we didn't think was a huge deal, but we thought it was stupid and he probably shouldn't have done it. And in a couple days he was gone. One mistake and he was gone. It showed me how fragile this business is and that one person is not important."
But Pettis' book isn't a risque tell-all. In fact, the story about Angelle's release is as close as you'll get to a tell-all book. That's not what Pettis was trying to do.
This was an exploration into his mind. It was about understanding the lifestyle change that came with moving from the west coast to the east. Those creature comforts he enjoyed around campus in college and living in the city, like readily accessible Wi-fi, just weren't as readily available in Williamsport, so he had to find a way to adjust. Pettis had to adjust from his normal routine of eating by a strict, healthy diet, to pretty much eating whenever he could.
"As a minor leaguer you're thrust into all these new things. You're not given a guide book of how to act and what to say and what to do," Pettis said. "There's about 25 other guys in the same situation. You have to find a way and make mistakes along the way and figure out what works best for you. There's nothing like this in life. You just have to find out for yourself."
Pettis is currently back home waiting to get another shot at minor league baseball after being released by the Phillies on March 28. He's said his release from the organization had to do with the release of his book since the book didn't debut on Amazon until March 31.
Pettis was told by the organization that they were backed up on pitching and they wanted to go with some younger guys. It was a disappointing end to Pettis' Phillies career after going 10-3 with a 2.17 ERA and a better than 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio over three levels. The former 35th-round draft pick was a little dumbfounded by the decision.
"They told me that they can't argue with what I've done," Pettis said. "If I was a top-five pick and had the numbers I do, this situation would never happen. But I understand that going in. The higher pick you are, the more perfect you have to perform."
Pettis said his agent has contacted all 30 Major League teams and some have shown interest in signing him. But he couldn't have been released at a worse time. Most teams had already decided on their Major League and minor league rosters.
The season for independent baseball starts in May and Pettis said if nothing comes up in affiliated ball by then that it's an avenue he may have to look into. For now, he's just biding his time until he gets another shot in baseball while still looking at opportunities to write about his experiences.
"When I do get picked up, I'll definitely write a blog about had happened from the time I was released until that point," Pettis said. "It's an interesting perspective that nobody has ever written about before. I'll keep writing on the blog for the remainder of the year, and maybe if I see fit, I'll write another book."
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Photo courtesy Williamsport Crosscutters and milb.com