I first met Judy Lynn Johnson at Hoftsra University’s symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the NY Mets. Along with Jason Antos, we presented papers on literature about the team; hers was a lot more literary than either Jason’s or mine. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that she was publishing a baseball title of her own this season.
Not since Doris Kearns Goodwin’ Wait Till Next Year have we see a nostalgic memoir like Watching the Game: Meditations from a Woman’s Heart.
This is not to say that nostalgia is always full of happy memories. In fact, Johnson’s offering can seem at times dark, lonely, and isolating even as she shares her love of the game with her children and her appreciation of the “common,” baseball-card speak for the player whose piece of cardboard is only worth a few cents compared with the superstars. To Johnson, all the athletes — the ones who scrap through indy leagues or American Legion as well as the Hall of Famer — are golden.
Johnson, a professor of English and humanities at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla. (the late Gary Carter was the baseball coach there), has published a thoughtful and deeply personal book that is both happy and sad in its honesty.
Normally I post these Conversations on Mondays, but considering the familial topic and the fact that today is Mother’s Day, I thought to do this one in a more timely nature. I’m only sorry I couldn’t do it sooner; Watching the Game would have been a no-brainer for a present. Doesn’t mean you have to wait for next year; it’s always nice to surprise mom with an unexpected gift.
Your can read more about Johnson and her book at her blog.