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Grassroots baseball book tour comes to Tampa

The 224-page book features a chapter on Tampa, and an essay by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
The cover of the book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin [Courtesy Jean Fruth]
Published Nov. 17

Photographer Jean Fruth’s interest in baseball has taken her around the world, and she assembled a collection of those dazzling images highlighting areas where several star players launched their careers, including Tampa, in a coffee table book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin.

The 16-page Tampa chapter includes a first-person essay by Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs, detailing how he began playing baseball while living in Brunswick, Ga., but moving to Tampa at age 11 was “the best thing” since it was "a hotbed of baseball talent.''

Boggs writes about playing at Plant High, his draft day experience and the influence of his parents. Also, how after his career he transitioned to coaching at Wharton High, and his goal to help win the annual Tony Saladino tournament.

Wade Boggs, shown coaching Wharton High during a recent Saladino Tournament. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]

Boggs and Fruth, plus Saladino and former baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson will host a presentation, Q-and-A and book signing 6:30-8:30 Monday night at Tampa’s Oxford Exchange.

Proceeds from admission ($5) and book sales ($60) will go to the Hillsborough Education Fund (benefiting the Saladino Tournament) and Redbone Cystic Fibrosis.

Other players featured in the 224-page book include Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Whitey Ford, Vladimir Guerrero, Rickey Henderson, Randy Johnson, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, Hensley Meulens, Ichiro Suzuki and Fernando Valenzuela.

"Ballpark fare" at Brandon High. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]

Besides seven other domestic destinations, there are photos from Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The book is also available via grassrootsbaseball.com.

"Waiting for her pitch,'' features a young player in the Yellow Jackets Little League. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]

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