You can’t live in Baltimore, Maryland, and not be an Orioles fan, right? My protagonist, John Welles, and his two best friends, Sam Feldman and Claude Willoughby, certainly didn’t think so. Of course, in 1928, the Baltimore Orioles were in the International League, one of the top minor leagues of the time, but that fact didn’t deter John, Sam, and Claude from cheering on their favorite players.
Researching the Baltimore Orioles for my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles, proved to be interesting for a woman who never followed baseball in her life. I admit I took the easy road out when I chose a team located in the same city where my boys lived. The Orioles had been on my mind ever since I decided to set my story in Maryland, but I wasn’t sure how to work them in. The solution presented itself after writing a scene where the three friends had a major falling out.
During the first year of medical school, the situation between Claude and his father, J.D., truly began to unravel. Two years of pre-med bonded the boys, but their friendship was pushed to the limits by the stress at school as well as Claude’s unwillingness to admit what was happening at home. John and Sam were helpless as they watched Claude drift away.
While neither John nor Sam was aware of the truth, Sam assumed John knew more than he was letting on. The accusation was born of Sam’s frustration at not knowing how to help Claude. Strong words turned into a shoving match and then a full blown fist fight.
Without giving away the interesting details, I will tell you that the three friends eventually worked out their differences. Taking in an Orioles game was their first post-fight activity. Unfortunately, it was a small patch on a bigger problem that had yet to be resolved.
Thank you to Mr. Bill Stetka, Director, Orioles Alumni, for providing the names of players for my characters to follow. Mr. Stetka’s information led me to shortstop, Joe Boley, who became John’s favorite player. Sam followed the career of third baseman, Frederic ‘Fritz’ Maisel, and Claude’s favorite player was pitcher George Earnshaw. In addition to player information, Mr. Stetka supplied a brief but interesting history on the Orioles.
Thank you, also, to Bruce Markusen, senior researcher of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, for supplying information on the Orioles compiled from author James H. Bready’s book, The Home Team, as well as research conducted by the Orioles Public Relations Department.