My debut novel, The Greatest Show on Dirt, is now available on Amazon.com. Here’s a brief synopsis to give you some idea what it’s about.
Lane Hamilton takes stock of his life and doesn’t like what he finds. His friends are all chasing their dreams, while he’s working for a goose-stepping bully on the middle-management track to nowhere. When Lane is fired for sleeping through an important meeting, a high school buddy lands him a job with the Durham Bulls. Despite the grueling hours, it doesn’t take him long to realize even a bad day at the yard beats a good one in Corporate America.
But is his new gig worth risking his magazine-cover girlfriend? And between jealous co-workers and psychotic relief pitchers, will he survive the season? The Greatest Show on Dirt is set in historic Durham Athletic Park, a place so rich in character that it plays as big a role as the crazy cast that makes up Lane’s Bulls family. Here is a realistic portrayal of what life was like working in the minor leagues in the early 1990s, before the explosive growth that saw many old ballparks replaced by miniature versions of big league stadiums. No one got rich, but they sure had a good time.
PRAISE FOR THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT
“The Greatest Show on Dirt is funny, fast-paced, and peopled with likable characters in a believable minor-league setting. In other words: manna for fans of sports fiction.”
–JOSEPH WALLACE, author of Diamond Ruby
“In The Greatest Show on Dirt, James Bailey performs a double-play pivot worthy of Bill Mazeroski, deftly pairing a page-turning coming-of-age tale about the cluelessness and angst of the post-college years with a richly detailed tour behind the scenes at a minor league ballpark. Like protagonist Lane Hamilton, a young, low-level functionary with the Durham Bulls, many of us stumble through our early twenties waiting for a call-up to The Majors—that vague, personalized fantasy of a passionate, meaningful adult life—but Lane became for me the epitome of that waiting during a scene in which he literally stumbles while attempting to provide his uselessly inexpert help in pulling a tarp across a bush league field in a rainstorm. Even when it rains, The Greatest Show on Dirt delivers poignant and hilarious big league entertainment.”
–JOSH WILKER, author of Cardboard Gods
“This coming-of-age story set against the ageless backdrop of minor league baseball is a fun and satisfying read. Bailey worked three years for the legendary Durham Bulls and his novel resonates with inside knowledge of both the game and business of baseball. The writing is lively, the cast of colorful characters drawn with care and compassion, and the flawed yet good-hearted protagonist, Lane Hamilton, proves to be as reliable a narrator as he is son, grandson, friend and lover. This is a fine first novel by a man whose love for baseball, and people, shines through.”
–JEFF GILLENKIRK, author of Home, Away
“A raucous, laugh-out-loud romp through the heartbeat of minor league baseball with an all-star front-office insider at the wheel. Bailey hits a homer that clears the cheap seats, all the characters in them, and all the hopeful romantics who work so hard to spin the turnstiles. Your minor league ballpark experience will never be the same.”
–GENE SAPAKOFF, Sports columnist, Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier
“If you have ever been around the minor leagues—be it as a ballplayer, front office worker or sports writer—you cannot help but find a piece of yourself in one of the characters in James Bailey’s Greatest Show on Dirt.”
–ANDY LINKER, Longtime Harrisburg Senators beat writer
“Nobody has a better feel for the sleepy rhythm of Durham life than James Bailey, nor can anyone give you a better guided tour of the fascinating subculture of minor league baseball. Give this man a steak. He’s gone yard.”
–MIKE BERARDINO, Sports columnist, South Florida Sun Sentinel
“Bailey’s knowledge of life in the minor leagues comes across in rich detail, making Greatest Show on Dirt an engaging and entertaining read of a young man finding himself during the daily grind of a season in Durham.”
–JOHN MANUEL, Editor in chief, Baseball America