That’s what prompted Jane Heller to write her first non-fiction book.
Heller didn’t divorce her husband. She divorced her team. The New York Yankees.
Fed-up after the dismal start to the 2007 season and the underperforming players, Heller decided to write an opinion article and submit it to the Times. It received a lot of attention. Both positive and negative. Encouraged, Heller decided to pitch a proposal for a book about being a fan of the Yankees, from a woman’s perspective. She suggested she would travel to all of the games with the team after the All-Star break and would interview people – from beat writers to players – for her book.
The result of the second half of the 2007 season, in which the Yankees led the majors in winning percentage after May 30, cumulates in Heller’s book Confessions of a She-Fan (Rodale).
I have had the opportunity to correspond with Heller via comments left on our blogs and if I remember correctly, once or twice through e-mail. I had read that she mentioned Woodstock (New York) in her blog and I emailed her to let her know that I grew up in Woodstock and that I am a die-hard fan like she was and we went on to talking about our team, and that Heller had grew up in Westchester County, like my mother did. My mother grew up in different parts of Westchester, but Mom often mentions Hartsdale, which is just a stone’s throw from Scarsdale, where Heller grew up.
Admittedly, I never heard of, or read about, the aforementioned divorce article in the Times until I talked with her. That prompted my curiosity about her book that was released on the same day Joe Torre’s book was released. Both books became my birthday gifts to myself.
Heller’s book opens with a witty exchange between herself and her husband, Michael, at a restaurant in Toronto. She sees Alex Rodriguez in the restaurant going to the bathroom and beckons Michael to go in there. Let’s just say that Michael is uncomfortable with the idea and Heller is frustrated that he won’t go in the bathroom with arguably the most recognized face in all of professional baseball. I laugh out loud reading the prologue and my younger brother, the other half of this blog, looks at me and says “Wha?” I repeat the lines from the book and we both laugh again.
The first one-third of the book describes Heller’s frustrations with the Yankees the first three months of the season, and her subsequent divorce article, prompting an approval for a book proposal and frantic searching for hotels, transportation and tickets for every game from the All-Star break on.
Heller goes through what I would consider a fantasy summer. Following her team passionately – through humid weather, rain, enduring “Yankees Suck” chants, meeting very nice people in Boston (of all places), Kansas City, Cleveland, and elsewhere.
I found myself glued to the book once she embarked on her trip with her husband. Heller chronicles her experiences flying and downing screw-top wine bottles to ease her nerves, living in a suitcase, and Michael sampling the hot dogs at every ballpark. (From what I understand, he ranks the Yankees’ dogs an “F” and he likes Detroit’s dogs the best – but I could be mistaken.)
Through Heller’s eyes, I am recreating the 2007 season where the Yankees go on their hot streak, only to fall to the Indians and the Lake Erie midges in the ALDS. Heller’s journey is one I want to take with her. To experience every ballpark the Yankees go to, sample the food, the crowd, to see our favorite player, Mariano Rivera, enter from the bullpen, and to just be who we are – fans of the New York Yankees.
I am transfixed to the pages in the book. Mentally yelling at each heckler, cheering with Heller as Posada or A-Rod hit a home run; pump my fist along with Joba Chamberlain’s strikeouts. I can’t put the book down. I want to eat up each page.
Heller’s book is a delight to read, and definitely makes me jealous of her summer trip that never ended.
Jane, next time, bring me along!