Elephants On Parade

Jun 15, 2017   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

The headline for today’s blog installment is misleading. There are no elephants involved in this blog in any way. And if there were, I probably would not put them on parade. Elephants deserve a lot more respect than that. It is also a coy reference to a song called “Pink Elephants On Parade” from the classic 1941 animated Disney film “Dumbo” which is also a name that describes me from time to time. So, this is really deep. Elephant connections on many levels all tied together in a web of obtuse references.

What’s key about this headline is the final word in it. Parades are fun. Lots of sidewalk sitting, usually. Maybe some marching bands and baton twirlers. Possibly even a shiny red fire truck. All things we enjoy, especially in midsummer. But every Sunday, if you subscribe to your local paper, you probably rifle through the largest edition of the week and find the funny papers, a huge sports section, and Parade Magazine. We’re all familiar with a laid-back Sunday morning, in a comfy chair, reading Parade. It’s an American institution and treasure.

Just hanging out on the interwebs with Jimmy and Oprah. (Click to enlarge)

I have never been in Parade Magazine, but this week I got about as close as I can come. I was included on their website, Parade.com, along with a photo of my book’s cover. As seen in this screen grab, I was in some very fine company. Because I’m always hanging around at parties with Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Allen, Cheech Marin, and Bette Midler. Always. So much so it’s commonplace and darn near boring.

So, how did this come to be? Well, as I’ve crowed about before, I have a fantastic publicist in the person of Elon Werner, he of the lengthy career with that John Force character who is now firmly established as the finest PR rep in the highly collectible auction industry, at Heritage Auctions. Elon made it all happen. He once pitched a Parade contributor, Nancy Berk, on a JFR story and in doing so, over a lengthy period of time, established a relationship and a feeling of mutual respect. A few weeks ago, Elon contacted Nancy and pitched her my story, as a lead in to Father’s Day, since my father is an integral part of my autobiography.

Nancy submitted a series of questions to me, and as soon as I saw them I was struck by how insightful and original they were. She’d not only done her homework on the subject matter of “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” but she also took all of that and created some questions that made me shake my head. They were deep, and creative, and they made me think. These were not your typical “So why did you want to write this book?” questions. They were so good, I felt it was important to spend 24 hours formulating my answers, rather the just fire back cliches and other nonsense. The questions deserved real answers. Thoughtful answers.

After I submitted them on Sunday, I started emailing directly with Nancy as we prepped the piece for Parade.com, and I found her fascinating. So I did some research and it was very telling. She is Dr. Nancy Woodward Berk, Ph.D, who is a widely respected clinical psychologist while also dabbling in writing, blogging, public speaking, and comedy. Really. Not making any of that up. And that explains why the questions were so good.

Here’s the interview, if you want to read something where the questions might just be better than the answers:

https://parade.com/578593/nancyberk/from-baseball-to-drag-racing-sports-personality-bob-wilbers-life-in-the-fast-lane/

That was fun. And being on Parade.com was incredible.

As for the book, we’re just five days away from the one-month mark in terms of it being on sale. That fact, all by itself, seems impossible but it’s true. It made its debut on May 20. Today is June 15. And hey, my birthday is Monday. Not that that means anything, but just putting it out there. When it finally went on sale I expected it to do well right out of the gate, and it did. To be more than three weeks into it and have it still selling solidly, on a daily basis, is really encouraging. I think word continues to spread, and having the Kindle version available is helping, as well.

Much appreciated! (Again, click on this photo to enlarge it)

And, what helps enormously are great reviews on Amazon. I had a few new ones come in this week and these are the sorts of words that make an author proud, and that pride is directly linked to the knowledge that I created something out of thin air, not sure if people would like it or yawn, and they seem to like it. If you’ve read it, and want to join in the review party, please feel free. Great reviews sell more books. That’s a proven fact on Amazon.

If a buyer already knows about the book and appreciates the author’s style before they even head to Amazon to buy it, the reviews might not mean much. But as promotion and publicity digs into the second and third layers of the reader world, those folks are going to want to hear what other buyers before them thought of the book. Heck, I’m honored these folks even took the time to write these reviews and share them.

We’ve also had some other fantastic publicity in the last few days. Dave Rieff gave me a great plug on the Fox Sports 1 NHRA telecast from Englishtown, although I sat down to watch exactly 10 minutes too late and missed it. Facebook came to the rescue, though, and numerous people who had it recorded via DVR went to that particular spot in the show and shot it with their phones, so I got to see it.

Also, National Dragster Magazine ran a really nice piece in their “Bits From The Pits” section. Elon Werner at work, I suspect. And we’ve got a lot of other interviews and feature stories in the works. I’m all for it.

On to other rambling things…

At least the number is right. We was number 45.

This photo is of my nephew Ewan Smith, kneeling beside a jersey in the Texas Rangers Museum at their ballpark in Arlington. It’s cool, right? Very cool. But it has a mysterious backstory I haven’t yet completely decoded.

As many of you know, my dad Del Wilber managed the Rangers for one game, after the team fired Whitey Herzog late in the 1973 season. On September 7, 1973 he led the Rangers to a comeback 10-8 win over Oakland, in Arlington (at the old ballpark there). He’d been told he’d get the rest of the season as an “audition” to keep the job, but by the time the game ended the team had hired Billy Martin and were introducing him to the media. Del Wilber, therefore, ended his Major League managing career at 1-0. Undefeated.

But… This is a road uniform. He never went on the road with the team. And, there’s a plaque next to it with an interesting story about the letters being hastily hand-cut and sewn on. But why? He brought the white jersey he wore back home, and it was around for a long time with various Wilbers before it vanished.

So, I have no idea why this blue jersey exists or why the letters were hand-cut or why it’s on display like it is. Crazy. Baseball aliens might well be involved. It’s still cool, though.

Onto another baseball story…

I like fleshing these out with additional photos that aren’t in the book because many of these guys are written about at length in it, especially my teammates on the Sauget Wizards.

John Parke was a fine pitcher from Vanderbilt who was my teammate on the Wizards for multiple seasons. He was one of those guys whose sense of humor and intellect was spot-on connected to mine, and we became great friends. I even hired him as one of my first staff members when I took the job as VP-Marketing & Promotions for the St. Louis Storm indoor soccer team. We went through a lot of ups and downs together, as well as a ton of stress, with the Storm but we kept each other sane. We worked hard, but we did a lot of laughing as well.

Your 1989 Sauget Wizards, prior to our win over the USA National Team in Millington, Tenn.

In this Wizards team photo (another one you’ll probably want to click on in order to enlarge it) you can spot a lot of characters from the book, including John (aka JP), Bob Hughes, Jim Greenwald, Moose Kassebaum, Neil Fiala, Rick Fiala, Downtown Scotty Brown, Joe Mehallow, Jim Donohue, Jeff Junker, and others. JP and I are in the back row, with “crafty lefty” Joe Mehallow between us. I don’t remember the last time I saw JP, but I know the next time.

He’s coming up to Minneapolis on business next week, and we’re going to meet at Target Field for the Twins game on Tuesday night. The odds that we’ll fall right back into conversations and laughter just like we’d seen each other last week are roughly at 100%. I’m really looking forward to it. And that means that the “after” photo to complete the reunion will be in next week’s blog. It’ll be a selfie, no doubt.

And this Wizards team? It might possibly be the best baseball team I ever played on. Better than the Paintsville Hilanders and Medford A’s, for sure. And we did it for free.

Time for lunch, I think, so I’ll let you all go for another week.

Keep spreading the word on my book, and we’ll keep up the PR work to keep the sales going.

And, as always, if you like what you just read here today, please “Like” it by clicking on the button at the top! The more likes the better, just like the great reviews on Amazon.

Bob Wilber, at your service without the use of elephants.

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