I'm a short story writer (hobbyist by nature) and I generally try to write and experiment with different genres.

Recently I've been thinking about sports, and I chose to write a short story about baseball. To give it context, the story is inspired by the poem "Casey at the Bat," and it deals with the downfall of a popular baseball player when he loses a game for his home team. The problem is that I don't know how to start. To be more specific - I enjoy watching baseball, it's the only sport I ever liked, however I don't have knowledge about baseball.

I tried spending time researching all I can but there is so much information to learn and so much I don't know, and I only intended this to be a short story. How can I research without it taking ridiculous amounts of time?

  • 4
    You can't shortcut research or learning. It never works, and to someone familiar with your subject of choice, it will be blatantly obvious and often have a detrimental effect. Don't cut corners, put the hard work in to get a good result.
    – user18397
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 4:46

2 Answers 2


This entirely depends on the angle you want to write from. If you want to write about a young child's first experience at Yankee Stadium/Fenway Park/ Wrigley Field, then there is no need to know anything in depth about baseball outside of the average fan.

If you want to write a story where the MC is one of the players, you will need to learn about the strategy of the game. Focus on something specific. Maybe a pitcher, maybe a batter. Don't try to learn the whole game as it will overload the short story. Learn the game from that position's perspective. As a pitcher MC, you can focus strictly on pitch sequence and what type of ball get's thrown in what situation.

Learn the lingo. Hanging curve, a cement mixer, high heat, putting it in the ear, around the horn, chin music, cheese, gas, going yard, dinger. There are many slangs and terms used in baseball that will help provide an authentic feel.

Baseball is a romance story in itself. It has it's ups, downs, betrayals, heart break, tension, euphoria. It has it's games within the game (fake signs, faking movement behind the batter to make him think the pitch location is different from actual location, pick off attempts, challenging a batter vs pitching carefully to a batter). There is literally so much you can do within the realm of baseball.

You just have to narrow it down to a specific instance, a moment, an inning, a feeling and write about it. There is no timer in baseball, a moment can literally last a life time. You can follow a similar format to the movie "For Love of the Game" where the main story was about a single baseball game and in particular about a specific pitcher that used flash backs between innings, pitches, to tell the story.

For a short story, I would focus more on a critical moment of a game. The last inning, the game winning hit, the game saving close. Write about the emotions someone would go through. All the checked pitches, catcher visits. The thoughts about what pitch and where. Is the batter aggressive or does he take the first pitch? Does the pitcher throw sliders on a 1-2 count for the strike out? All of these little mind games adds up to what makes baseball so great.

Baseball is beautiful sport that forces teams to earn their win. There is no killing the clock, pinning the ball to a corner or a puck to the boards. You can't avoid/delay the game. You have to earn your outs. If there is 1 second left on the clock, the game can very well be over in most sports. In baseball, you could be down to your last strike, your last out and keep the game going.

"It ain't over until it's over". - Yogi Berra


OP I +1'd you're question largely because I love that you're inspired to write some drama without turning to guns or explosives....and baseball can be an excellent stage for that theater!

That being said, if you have a legitimate interest in imagining such a story in the context you've chosen, shouldn't part of the fun be in doing that upfront research necessary to writing the story? Think about how much you'll learn about the history of baseball! Also, all the "romantic" nuances @ggiaquin refers to in their answer is 100% spot on.

I was intrigued recently to learn that Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the more famous players of the dead-ball era, was originally from the mountainous upstate area of South Carolina, and that he got his start playing for the area Textile Mill's local baseball team. Moreover, apparently a local man made him a bat that he later took to the major leagues, which he considered it his favorite bat, even having it repaired once after breaking it in 1911. (I'm shocked that was or is even possible.) An AP article referenced in one of the wiki pages I linked referred to this bat as "one of sports' most fabled artifacts."

I can't help but "spitball" a little with your idea, so here's a free concept for a short short with a baseball theme.. A superstitious player known for stealing bases has used the same laces through his career, having kept them from the original cleats he wore the year he made it to "the bigs". And just before the final game of the league championship series, he brakes a lace while tying on his shoes. This moment could be the catalyst for a lot of things: does it wreck his confidence, they lose, and he spends the rest of his life stuck in that moment? Or does he tie them back together, rise above it, they win, and they go on to win the World Series that year? Does he thread in a new lace on that shoe, give the tied up lace to a kid in the stands as he takes the field, only to have a record-breaking performance, to win the pennant...and of course go on to win the world series..and the story is told in reflection, through the eyes of that kid?? etc. etc. etc.!

Man. There is go much room to write a good baseball story!!

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