Baseball ties Albany author to his father

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Those who subscribe to the theory that writing is an effective form of therapy may use Albany author Bill Lightle's latest book, "My Mother's Dream: Baseball with the Bankers," as source material.

In his third book, made available to the public last week, Lightle uses his father's involvement with a semi-pro baseball team in Indiana as a means to explain the concepts of family and friendship as they've been handed down through three generations of Lightle men.

It's a poignant story of another time that offers a window into the soul of a man who searched his and his father's past to understand his and his own sons' present.

"This is my story; this is who I am," Lightle said of the book, released through Mill City Press. "I wanted to tell about my father, about his relationship with his friends and my mother in post-World War II America, and the best way to tell it was through his time with the Bankers.

"For me, this book was all about telling this story. I think it expresses a man's love for his family and his friends. And while it, of course, involves baseball, I think any time we have the opportunity to celebrate those very important qualities, it's a positive for all of us."

Lightle grew up in tiny Gas City, Ind., and he celebrates his time there as batboy/first-hand observer for his father's semi-pro baseball team, the Twin City Bankers, in "My Mother's Dream."

Lightle introduces the easy, 140-page read with the telling line "I will always be that little boy in the dugout," and that sentence is the thread that runs from beginning to end of the book that he said grew from a 2008 visit to his hometown.

"A couple of years ago I went to Indiana to visit family, and Rick Atkinson (one of the primary figures from the book) gave me a Twin City Bankers hat," Lightle said. "That was where the idea to write this book started to take shape.

"That, plus the dream that my mother actually had that I told about at the start of the book, was my inspiration."

In the summer after his father died, Lightle returned to Gas City, to visit the men who had been his father's friends and teammates and to walk on the field where he'd been nurtured. The stories that he heard became the basis for "My Mother's Dream."

"It was a very personal thing to do, and when I was writing the last chapter where I described my father's death, it became very emotional," Lightle said. "I had to put my pen and paper away and just walk away from it for a while."

The author, who moved to Albany when he was 9, worked as a journalist for eight years before he started a teaching career that is in its 22nd year. He was an Albany Herald reporter for six years before working a year each at the Greenville (S.C.) News and the Florida Times Union.

Lightle currently teaches at the South Georgia Achievement Center in Albany, is an adjunct history professor at Albany State University and teaches a leadership class at LaGrange University's satellite campus in Albany.

He has written two other books: "Made or Broken: Football & Survival in the Georgia Woods" from 2004 and "Mill Daddy: The Life & Times of Roy Davis" from last year. All three works are available at his website, www.blightle.com, and at Amazon.com.