Mark Littell spent nine seasons in the major leagues as a pitcher with the Royals and Cardinals. His new book, “Country Boy: Conveniently Wild” is not a baseball book.
His first book had stories from his playing days, this book looks at his youth and his next book will focus on his coaching stories. “It’s kind of Americana-type thing,” Littell said. “It’s not your typical baseball stories per se.”
Despite that, or maybe because of it, the book has been well received by readers. “I expected it because people read less about sports than any other thing,” Littell. “The sports section is the least read section of the paper.”
“Country Boy: Conveniently Wild” is a look back at his childhood in Missouri, when he would go looking for adventure with his brother Eric, or as they were known to the locals, “The Gruesome Twosome.”
Throw in the fact that Littell has Attention Deficit Disorder, which he wasn’t diagnosed with until he was in his mid-40s, and with only three TV stations, there were plenty of activities and games to make up.
One story had Littell throwing a friend from the neighborhood into deep water and then saving him from drowning.
Littell wondered if he might make it into the papers for being a hero. His brother’s reply: “Hell no, but you might have a shot at getting in on attempted murder.”
Another anecdote has Littell with his family shopping at Goldsmith’s in Memphis when an unannounced Martin Luther King march started to head their way. With his mom trying to drive away from what was turning into a riot, she tried listening to the radio to see where the march was going. As Eric explained to her, “Hey, Mom, you’re leadin’ it!” Somehow in trying to find a way out of the area, the car had been in front of the march for less than 20 seconds.
His mom was a nurse for more than 50 years, and his dad a sharecropper. Alan was a Marine who had been shot during the Korean War while acting as a decoy for other men in his platoon, and was thought to be lost in “No man’s land”.
But a pair of Marines, one black, the other an American Indian, dragged Alan to safety.
Littell was born several months later, and had Alan been killed in Korea, Eric would not have been born a year later. “He never really talked about it,” Littell said. “Except one day we were bitching about how it it was. He said the hottest day he experienced was in North Korea when he was behind a tombstone getting peppered with bullets.”
Alan was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. And Littell didn’t learn until 2016 that his father had been awarded a Presidential citation.
Littell has been all over the world, including recent baseball trips to Cuba. The former pitcher didn’t forget his beginnings as seen in this look back at childhood in the Bootheel.