Greg Larson is a 32-year old writer, currently living and working in Austin, Texas, where he has been for three years.
Just shy of 10 years ago, Larson took on the job of clubhouse attendant for the Aberdeen IronBirds. Larson filled that role over two seasons, 2012 and 2013 and from his own struggles, he wrote a book; Clubbie: A Minor League Baseball Memoir.
Larson talked about life and the book recently and why he wrote it.
“At first, it was really an interesting world that I went into. I was a huge baseball fan growing up and I thought I knew what professional baseball was like and then I got a job working that clubhouse and thought, this is nothing of what I thought I knew about professional sports,” Larson said.
“There were aspects that were surprising to me, like guys making about 1,200 dollars a month, guys living four men to an apartment and just given all of those struggles, that guys kept coming back and then I kept coming back for more? I mean, I did not want or expect this to be a memoir, but what it wound up being is a story about me wanting to be one of these players, who is kind of stuck in a world that I didn’t want to be stuck in. And yet I couldn’t help but keep going back,” Larson said. “It’s like very addicting and that tension of being forced to grow up in a game that tries to keep us all young is really what drove me to start writing this book.”
Larson says he’s continually telling people, “I’m not a clubbie who wrote a book, I’m an author who happened to be a clubbie one time. I have a master’s in fine arts and creative writing. That’s what I studied after I ended my tenure as clubble.”
Larson has a Bachelor’s degree in arts as an English major from Winthrop University and a Master’s degree in fine arts and creative writing from Old Dominion University.
Larson works as an author and editor. “That’s my world, I’m working on my next book right now, a novel that has nothing to do with baseball.”
So, before all the college work was done, the book was well on its way. “By the end of those two seasons, I had about 285 pages of notes. I had no idea what the story was gonna be yet, but I started writing it in 2014, just over a year after I left the IronBirds,” Larson said. “This is my graduate school thesis at Old Dominion University, so I wrote the first drafts from 2014 to 2017 and the first drafts were giving you an expose` about Minor League Baseball life and I wasn’t a character in it at all.”
Therefore, there had to be change. “One of my classmates said to me, “hey, I think it’s interesting that you’re not a character given that it’s so obvious you want to be one of the players.”
“I thought oh crap, I can rewrite this whole thing. I rewrote it as a memoir approximately 2017 until 2019. That was the stage when I was sending query letters, sending letters to publishers. I got rejected by 221 publishers, by the way,” Larson said.
Larson finally caught his break with The University of Nebraska Press giving him a contract in 2019 and the book published in April, 2021.
In the book, Larson describes life as a clubbie. So, what might stick out, at least from the writer’s perspective?
“There are two things that come to mind. One, my relationship with Alan Mills,” Larson explained.
“So, Mills was our pitching coach for the two years that I was there. When I’m writing a nonfiction book like this I have to think about people as characters in the book, but they are real people. Alan Mills was somebody that I was close to in that world and he was somebody that I saw his teaching style. He treated me like one of his pitchers I feel like. He let me sit in on pitcher’s meetings,” Larson said.
“There were those moments in the clubhouse that I feel like are so provocative and scary to write about, but I think they tell you so much about that world and they tell you so much about Alan Mills as a person and coach,” Larson added.
Then there’s the even more personal moments. “Sometimes, I think about my relationship with my girlfriend, which plays a prominent role in the book. I did not want to write about that at all due to unsavories. The same challenges I went through with my girlfriend of her saying, “why are you going back another season, you struggled so much the first season.”
“When I went back the second season, I was living in Ripken Stadium. I lived in the equipment closet in the clubhouse the second year to save money on rents. That’s how deeply trenched I was in that world,” Larson said. “It’s embarrassing to write about, but it just makes it a more provocative story, just tell the full truth.”
Larson says his three and a half years of relationship with the girlfriend ended about the time he stopped his role as clubbie. “Being clubbie is what drove us apart eventually. She thought I was getting stuck in a world that wasn’t good for me.”
The book’s first print run was 2,000 copies. Up to Major League Baseball’s opening day, 1,000 hard covers had been sold, noted Larson. “We won’t know how many single copies we sold until my first royalty check in August, I believe. The only raw numbers I know right now is we sold 1,000 hard covers up to April 1.”
The book has a $27.99 list price and they are available at numerous places. Larson says some were ordered through Amazon, some were through the publisher’s website and some were ordered by bookstores in different parts of the country and in libraries.
“Fan feedback and media feedback has been pretty incredible,” Larson said. “That alone has made the trip worthwhile.”
Signed hardcover copies can be bought at Larson’s website: https://www.clubbiebook.com/ and digital copies can be purchased at the Amazon listing: https://www.amazon.com/Clubbie-Minor-League-Baseball-Memoir-ebook/dp/B08MQ9GBVZ/
Larson grew up in Elk River, Minnesota. “One of my dreams was to be a professional baseball player, but I bat .091 my senior year of high school in a state that’s more well known for snowmobiling and ice fishing than it is for summer sports,” Larson said with a laugh.
“Me being up in Aberdeen was a real fluke. Was living in Fort Myers, Fl. and the IronBirds clubhouse job opened up,” he said. Larson stopped in Sarasota on his way North to Aberdeen, where he saw the major league side, minor league side and Jake Parker, his eventual mentor, who he says gave him a run down of what that world was like.
“My connection to Maryland is now, only that I was in Aberdeen for two summers. Other than that, it’s just a fluke,” Larson said.