Author Guest Post
The Real Last Of The Seals
By Greg Messel
The San Francisco Seals were a minor league baseball team in San Francisco, California from 1903 to 1957. They played in the Pacific Coast League, which is one level below Major League Baseball.
In 1958, San Francisco was going to be a major league city. The arrival of the Giants would displace the Seals. The Seals would be moved to Phoenix and become a farm team of the Giants. The Seals players would be scattered. The San Francisco Giants would dislodge the Seals from their beloved stadium. The Giants played in Seals Stadium in 1958 and 1959 while Candlestick Park was being built.
Among the joys I experienced in writing the Last of the Seals was becoming involved with a man named Bill Soto-Castellanos.
When he was a teenager, Bill was hired as the batboy and clubhouse attendant for the San Francisco Seals in the early 1950s. Young Bill was with the Seals every day. He was at Seals Stadium for the last game ever in San Francisco. Bill told me that he even spent the winter of 1956-57 living in the bowels of Seals Stadium.
Bill kindly reviewed some of the chapters in Last of the Seals to make sure that I accurately captured the events of 1957. Not just the events but the feeling of the times.
I was delighted to hear Bill tell me that I couldn't have picked a better time to write the story of Last of the Seals. Bill recalled that San Francisco in 1957 was a clean, beautiful and exciting place.
We talked about the old baseball players. He was the visiting team's clubhouse attendant. As such he got to meet many players who would go on to major league fame after they passed through Seals Stadium.
Among them was Joe DiMaggio, who was a local San Francisco icon. Joe, his brothers and family lived in San Francisco. Joe even lived with his famous wife, Marilyn Monroe, for a time in San Francisco.
On March 23, 1951, Bill got an assignment he would never forget when the world famous New York Yankees came to town to play an exhibition game against the Seals. Yankee shortstop Gil McDougald had promised an autographed baseball to a local friend.
McDougald asked Bill to take a baseball to get it signed by as many Yankees as possible. Bill began to work his way down the row of players sitting in the dugout. At the end of the row was Joe DiMaggio. Bill handed Joe the baseball but said nothing.
Joe DiMaggio then looked at Bill and said, "young man, you can get a whole lot more cooperation out of us if you learn to say please."
Bill sheepishly replied "Yes sir." After this encounter with DiMaggio, Bill said he tried to improve his manners. This and many other great stories of the bygone era are captured in Bill's great book, 16th and Bryant: My Life & Education with the San Francisco Seals.
What an experience that was for me as I was writing Last of the Seals. Getting to know Bill and gain his insights, made my fictional characters leap from the page and become more real.
Bill Soto-Castellanos is the real "Last of the Seals."
There's a scene in my book when the former Seals player and the main character in Last of the Seals, Sam Slater, goes to Seals Stadium to clean out his locker for the last time.
Sam is at first reluctant to take many keepsakes of his years with the Seals. Then he is given a piece of advice by the clubhouse manager who is urging him to keep his old baseball jerseys as a remembrance of his time as a player.
The clubhouse manager says in Chapter21, "There's a tendency to just want to close the door and move on now. It's natural. It hurts too much to lose what we've had. But Sammy, some day you're going to have a son who won't know that his daddy was a Seal. That little boy won't know about the special things his dad was able to do. Your son needs to see that his daddy was part of a magical time. You could show him this stuff and let him feel a little of the magic."
My book was my attempt to connect to that time long, long ago. I'm thankful that I got to rub shoulders with Bill Soto-Castellanos and "feel a little of the magic."
About The Author:
Greg Messel's Last of the Seals Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!
Last of the Seals Book Trailer
Published By: Sunbreaks Publishing
Release Date: April 23, 2012
Format: Paperback - 392 pages / Kindle - 1019 KB / Nook
Genre: Mystery - Suspense - Thriller / Romance
BUY THE BOOK: Last of the Seal
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
The year is 1957 in San Francisco. Sam Slater is a lifetime minor league baseball player for the San Francisco Seals. The Seals have just one more season left as San Francisco is about to become a major league city. The Giants are coming to town in 1958 and the Seals will be displaced. Sam has come to the end of his baseball career and is going to join the private detective agency of his best friend. When his friend is brutally murdered, Sam must go it alone and try to find out why. Along the way he is swept off of his feet by a beautiful Elvis-obsessed TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan. Sam and Amelia try to unravel the mystery together. Sam’s best friend, Jimmy inadvertently saw something he shouldn’t have. Sam and Amelia have pictures in their possession that have crime families in San Francisco and Chicago very worried. Then a young woman Sam has been searching for is found dead on the beach. Suddenly, Sam and Amelia find themselves in danger. On dark and foggy San Francisco nights, trouble is lurking just around the next corner.
My Book Review:
Baseball, two murder mysteries and a romance ... can you ask for anything more in a book?
The year is 1957 ... the last season for the minor league baseball team the San Francisco Seals. Major League Baseball is coming to San Francisco in 1958 with the New York Giants moving west, unfortunately displacing the Seals. Longtime Seals pitcher Sam Slater is playing his last season in the minor leagues, he might have had a chance to play in the majors if he hadn't fought in World War II. After the baseball season ends, he will join his Army buddy, Jimmy Jankow, as a partner in his private investigative firm.
When Jimmy is brutally murdered for inadvertently seeing something he shouldn't have, Sam is left to pick up the pieces and investigate Jimmy's murder and the murder of a client's daughter. While getting his bearings and beginning his investigations into both murders, Sam comes to the aid of a beautiful TWA stewardess, Amelia Ryan, who was being accosted by two drunks on the street. A mutual attraction leads to the beginning of a relationship for Sam and Amelia. While asking Sam about his investigative agency, Amelia's inquisitive nature into the murder investigations leads her to join Sam in finding the murderers.
Will Sam and Amelia find the murderers and bring them to justice? Will their investigation into the murders get them into danger? Will Sam and Amelia's budding romance turn into a permanent relationship?
Last of the Seals is an entertaining whodunit story that masterfully weaves together three subplots into a cohesive story consisting of baseball, murder mysteries and romance. The book begins with a richly detailed history of the minor league baseball team the San Francisco Seals. As a baseball fan, I found the history of the San Francisco Seals to be fascinating and the inclusion of the pictures were a great bonus. This segment of the book will appeal to all baseball fans, there is nothing better than to learn about another piece of baseball lore. The author then effortlessly leads the reader into the tale of the San Francisco Seals pitcher turned private eye Sam Slater. This intriguing page turner has it all: baseball, murders, the mob, socialites, and a beautiful romantic love interest for our protagonist. As Sam and Amelia embark on the journey to solve the murder cases, there is enough action, suspense, thrills and chills, twists and turns to keep the reader sitting on the edge of their seats.
The author has created an interesting cast of characters that are realistic and engaging. I loved Sam's character, I really enjoyed reading about him being a war hero, a pitcher in the minor league and his progression to becoming a private eye. I loved how Sam and Amelia's romance blossomed, they seemed to be a perfect match for each other. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed their working together to investigate and solve the murder cases. The interactions and dialogues are engaging and keep the reader's interest while making this story an intriguing and enjoyable read.
Last of the Seals is the first book in a series of mysteries. I look forward to reading more about the adventures that await Sam and Amelia. Fans of baseball, mysteries and romance, this is one book that you will want to add to your TBR list, you won't be disappointed!
RATING: 4 STARS ****