04/30/2008 4:48 PM ET
Savvy Girls pen baseball book
Seattle duo go beyond stats in an informal guide for women
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Writing and getting a baseball book published is quite an accomplishment, but it can also put you in a tough spot from time to time.
Take Deidre Silva and Jackie Koney, the Seattle-based duo whose popular primer on America's pastime for women entitled, "It Takes More Than Balls: The Savvy Girls' Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Baseball" (Skyhorse Publishing, 236 pages), is in stores now.
They spent four years researching and writing the book, a fun, easy-to-read and staggeringly informative reference material for women interested in learning more about baseball. In other words, they lost a lot of quality time at Safeco Field, where they would normally be watching their beloved Mariners.
While trying to get back to the 30- or 40-games-a-season schedule they were accustomed to, they got a jarring phone call at precisely the wrong time.
"Raul (Ibanez) was on first in the ninth, no outs, and we're down by one," Silva says. "And we have to get up, leave, and do a radio interview."
Ah, the perils of fame.
Turns out the wacky DJ had a pathetically unfunny, borderline offensive first question for the ladies: "What are you wearing?"
The conversation went downhill from there, but fortunately, as Silva and Koney explain, it was a rare occurrence in a promotional schedule that has been as accepting as the book is engaging.
"I'm a Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) member now," says Koney, who researched the book and left the bulk of the writing to Silva, a freelance journalist. "We got a lot of info from there. We also interviewed serious baseball people."
They did indeed, talking to former Boston Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, longtime baseball executive Roland Hemond, Major League Baseball's vice president of umpiring, Mike Port, and former big-league pitcher and controversial "Ball Four" author Jim Bouton.
The result is a book that mixes baseball history and in-depth descriptive material on the finer points of the game. It includes passages on Hall of Fame voting, baseball lingo, the rules of the game, strategy and how to score games, while never getting corny or goofy.
"It's written in a light-hearted tone, but we take the game very seriously," Silva says. "And the SABR guys couldn't find any holes in it."
The idea for the book came when Koney, who works as the director of youth employment at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, was 38 years old, dreading turning 40, and "rethinking life," as she puts it.
"My mom had just passed away, and I started thinking, 'What do I want to do with my life?'" she says.
Fortunately, she happened to be having these thoughts while playing poker and drinking margaritas with her buddy Silva.
"We realized that we should write a book together, and after talking about it more seriously for a while after the margaritas wore off, we realized that it had to be about baseball," Koney says. "Our social life revolved around baseball, and we did market research and there wasn't any book out there like this one. Nothing like what we would want to read."
Four years later, the book is released and there is also available a unique "Scoring Journal," part scrapbook, part diary, part doodle pad and part legitimate baseball scorecard. Those, as well as the book, are available at Koney and Silva's Web site, www.thesavvygirls.com. They also have an MLBlog for the book at http://savvygirls.mlblogs.com/.
"The journal is for women who go to games to relax and maybe don't take it too seriously," Silva says. "It has pre- and post-game questions that bring outside life into the park if the game gets a little boring."
Reading "It Takes More Than Balls" should eliminate that possibility, though.
For example, in one paragraph, Koney and Silva compare the season innings-pitched totals of Cy Young Award-winning pitchers John Smoltz (254 in 1996) and Don Drysdale (314 in 1962) and then show how different the game was when 37-year-old Cy Young himself twirled 380 innings in 1904.
"We definitely use stats, but as a contextual thing," Koney explains. "It's more about showing, 'This is how these numbers work,' instead of just throwing them out there."
One of the conclusions the authors came to was that the differences in how most men and women view baseball comes down to when in their life they're introduced to the game.
"A lot of guys either play the game at one level or another or have baseball cards or have baseball card games or baseball video games," Silva says.
"Jackie and I maybe did that with our brothers, but that's not what girls our age were doing. We didn't have that institutional knowledge of the game that most guys have. Women, in general, come to the game at a later age in life. Maybe it's because their kids are in Little League, maybe they go to games because it's a social event.
"And they deserve a different kind of baseball book. They don't need a baseball book 'for dummies,' because they're not dummies. Many went to college, and many have very high-profile jobs.
Silva and Koney will get to spend some time with these women when they go on a summer promotional tour that will take them to stadiums all over the country, starting June 5 when they're the guests of the Washington Nationals. They'll also visit Detroit, Shea Stadium, and they'll have an event with the Mariners for the fourth year.
The whole time, they'll reinforce the message of "It Takes More Than Balls," which, in short, is that female baseball fans are gaining knowledge and shouldn't be messed with.
"We're not groupies, and we're not teeny-boppers," Silva says. "We're women who want to learn a little bit more about the game."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.