As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, local author Thomas Cochran will be at Nightbird Books with his newest book, Uncle Drew and the Bat Dodger. Cochran has contributed essays to such notable publications as Oxford American, Modern Drummer, and Gray's Sporting Journal while his poetry has appeared in Rattle and Mudlark and Louisinana Literature. He is although the author of two previous books, Roughnecks (Harcourt), a National Book Award for Young People's Literature nominee, and Running the Dogs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Locally, Cochran may be best know from his time teaching at Fayetteville High School.
"The new book is set up in a story-within-a story format. The frame story concerns a nine-year-old boy named Teddy Caldwell, a resident of Oil Camp, Louisiana (the fictitious setting for all three books), who befriends his mysterious, elderly next-door neighbor after accidentally breaking one of his windows with a sharply hit baseball. Over the course of a summer, the neighbor, Uncle Drew Weems, tells Teddy the tragicomic central story, which concerns his depression-era travels with a ballplayer named Bopeep Shines, who leaves his Negro League team to barnstorm the country taking on all comers in a contest he devises as a way of earning considerably more money as a pitcher than the dollar a game he was making as a player with the New Orelans Po' Boys. Uncle Drew becomes his companion and valet, and the tale he tells Teddy years later introduces the youngster to, among other things, the Negro League, Jim Crow racism, and pitiless Fate. Though Teddy has never heard of him, Bopeep is not altogether unknown; still, his abrupt departure from the Po' Boys and his subsequent unrecorded travels have left him with a dubious legacy, more mythological than historical. Ultimately, Teddy realizes that he must come up with a way to correct this, for it is clear to him that Bopeep Shines was one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived."