Join us on June 1, at 6:30 pm, with the author, Tim Wendell, to discuss his book Escape From Castro’s Cuba AND Summer of 68: The Season That Changed Baseball and America Forever.
About Escape from Castro's Cuba
In this visionary sequel to Castro’s Curveball, the former Washington Senators Minor League catcher has returned to Havana with a small role in a movie being filmed on location. Billy Bryan soon realizes that this place and his past remain as star-crossed as when he played winter ball in the Cuban capital decades before.
Against his better judgment, Billy becomes entangled in a scheme to spirit a top baseball prospect off the island. This pits him against his old friend Fidel Castro. Despite being in his final days, the dictator remains a dangerous adversary, as does the Cuban sports machine and the Mexican crime syndicates that now direct baseball talent toward the U.S. Major Leagues.
In Escape from Castro’s Cuba, Billy must once again navigate the crosscurrents of the so-called City of Columns: a place where the sunsets from the Hotel Nacional along the Malecón breakwater are as beautiful as ever but where the alleyways in Old Havana still fan out, crooked and broken, like an old catcher’s fingers.
About Summer of '68: The Season that Changed Baseball and America
From the beginning, '68 was a season rocked by national tragedy and sweeping change. Opening Day was postponed and later played in the shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral. That summer, as the pennant races were heating up, the assassination of Robert Kennedy was later followed by rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. But even as tensions boiled over and violence spilled into the streets, something remarkable was happening in major league ballparks across the country. Pitchers were dominating like never before, and with records falling and shut-outs mounting, many began hailing '68 as "The Year of the Pitcher."
In the Summer of '68, Tim Wendel takes us on a wild ride through a season that saw such legends as Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Don Drysdale, and Luis Tiant set new standards for excellence on the mound, each chasing perfection against the backdrop of one of the most divisive and turbulent years in American history. For some players, baseball would become an insular retreat from the turmoil encircling them that season, but for a select few, including Gibson and the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, the conflicts of '68 would spur their performances to incredible heights and set the stage for their own run at history.
Meanwhile, in Detroit -- which had burned just the summer before during one of the worst riots in American history -- '68 instead found the city rallying together behind a colorful Tigers team led by McLain, Mickey Lolich, Willie Horton, and Al Kaline. The Tigers would finish atop the American League, setting themselves on a highly anticipated collision course with Gibson's Cardinals. And with both teams' seasons culminating in a thrilling World Series for the ages -- one team playing to establish a dynasty, the other fighting to help pull a city from the ashes -- what ultimately lay at stake was something even larger: baseball's place in a rapidly changing America that would never be the same.
In vivid, novelistic detail, Summer of '68 tells the story of this unforgettable season -- the last before rule changes and expansion would alter baseball forever -- when the country was captivated by the national pastime at the moment it needed the game most.
About the Author
A native of Lockport, Tim Wendel is the author of 14 books, including Summer of '68, Castro's Curveball and Cancer Crossings: A Brother, His Doctors, and the Quest to Cure Childhood Leukemia. His novel Escape from Castro's Cuba was a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist.