Main Character List
Ryan Haddox, a minor league pitcher for the Lockhart Panthers
Stephanie Haddox, Ryan s girlfriend, and the mother of his child
Mitch Haddox, Ryan’s uncle and adopted father
Dorothy Haddox, Ryan’s Aunt and adopted mother
Roy Peterman, Ryan’s friend and sports journalist
Nikolai “Soldi” Borelli, Ryan’s friend and catcher
Clarence “Sonny” Ramsey, Lockhart Panther manager
Central plot and sub plots
The chance to make it to the Major Leagues is a dream on a time clock. Ryan has been pursuing that dream for six years and believes that he is on threshold of accomplishing his goal.
But just as Ryan has a chance to attain his dream, he is confronted with a series of events which force him to make a hard choice—whether to continue to pursue his dream, or save his relationship.
Ryan and Stephanie have been together for five years and have a newborn son. Getting older and running out of time, one pitch brings Ryan face to face with a grim quandary.
His arm hurts.
Ryan must decide whether to stop pitching and allow his arm to heal, thereby sacrificing another season, or keep on pitching and risk causing permanent damage to his arm.
The clock is ticking.
Story behind the story
Some parts of Paint Black are based on fact. I drew inspiration from my baseball experiences in high school and two years of semi-pro ball.
Paint Black was originally written as a short story. The migration from a short story into a novel changed the meaning of the story immeasurably.
Unlike the Ululant Ache—another novel I matured from a short story—the central plot does not change.
I knew I wanted to maintain the main structure of the story because I wanted to intensify the conflict and suffering of the protagonist. I felt that by doing so, it would further enhance the relatability of the story to the reader.
Many Americans wake up every day in pain. Quietly, they fight through their suffering and go on with their lives.
Essentially, that’s one of the central messages of Paint Black.
Current events tied to the book's main theme
The road of the major leaguer is paved with gold.
In contrast: the road of the minor leaguer is, most often, paved with debt and broken hearts.
In 2015, the average salary of a major league ballplayer was $4.25 million. Topped by a per diem that includes chartered flights and over $100 a day for meal money, the amount is augmented.
On the other hand, the salary of a minor league player could be as low as $1150, at best $2,150 per month at the Triple-A level.
There are pending lawsuits on behalf of 34 plaintiffs in federal court, Northern District of California, against Major League Baseball, claiming willful and actionable violation of federal and state wage and hour laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Playing for love of the game is the only reason anyone should attempt to attain major league status.
But is the sacrifice to your future—monetarily and individually—worth it?
That is the conflict that the novel “Paint Black” attempts to answer.
When a pitch means more than a baseball game… When a game is a matter of life or death… When winning is everything… The game stops being a game.
Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Haddox has invested 6 years of his life toiling in the minor leagues working toward his big break to reach the major leagues.
“We want to set up a Southern Side-by-Side,” says Panther manager Clarence “Sonny” Ramsey, putting into motion a competition that will decide the fate of two men.
The competition is a Winner Take All pitching contest between Ryan and rookie pitching sensation, Dalton Young, the Panther’s number one draft pick and a sure shot major league prospect.
“The winner will be decided on ERA, innings pitched, strike outs and walks, and most important: wins and losses. Come September 1st, we’ll chart up all the totals and the pitcher with the best record will be sent up to the parent club.”
For once in his life, Ryan believes that everything is falling into place for him and he will be able to accomplish his goals and attain the success that he’s struggled for all of these years.
“I can win this thing, Stephanie,” he tells his girlfriend, believing that he will win the competition.
With a newborn baby boy to care for, Ryan pitches with perfection to achieve his dreams and to provide for his family.
Then, on the brink of winning the competition, an obstacle materializes before him that seams unsurmountable.
A great pain threatens to destroy his dreams.
Adopting a “must win” mentality, Ryan risks everything, including his pitching arm, to overcome the pain and make it to the major leagues.
A book full of baseball action, realism, and immersive romance, Paint Black will return you to childhood summer days when playing baseball was still an American Dream.