Author, Adventurer and Baseball Aficionado
Tammy Lechner was born in Batavia, New York and raised in Saugerties, New York. She studied photojournalism and magazine journalism at the University of Missouri. She has published two books on professional baseball, and currently works as a freelance writer and photographer from her home-base in Laguna Beach, CA. Lechner received the Michigan Understanding Award for her documentary project about displaced Goodyear workers (1985) and was Kentucky News Photographer of the Year (1985). While on staff with the Los Angeles Times (1987-1994) she shared honors in Pulitzer Prize awards. Lechner is noted for her extensive documentation of the lifestyle and atmosphere of professional baseball. She is the author of "IN THE CAL: Pastime Goes Primetime In California's Minor League," (1994) and "OUR TEAM - OUR DREAM: A Cubs Fan's Journey Into Baseball's Greatest Romance." (2007)
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? Following the Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans through fifteen years must qualify as the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done. From my home-base in California the journey took me to Chicago during all seasons of the years, to Arizona every spring, and to many baseball stadiums from St. Louis to San Francisco. I covered many miles by plane, train, car, and on foot following the Cubs from 1993-2007 until the project was finally published as the book Our Team-Our Dream: A Cubs Fan’s Journey Into Baseball’s Greatest Romance.
How did you get hooked on baseball? I grew up in a family and a community that loved baseball. My hometown, Saugerties, had a recreational park named Cantine’s Field that included several baseball diamonds where people gathered on summer nights to watch Little League, Babe Ruth, or men’s and women’s softball. Both my brothers played baseball at Cantine’s Field, and everyone in my family played in various softball leagues. This is where my love of baseball took root.
I became a Cubs fan in 1969 – the year the New York “Miracle” Mets upended the Cubs late in the season and went on to win the World Series. I hadn’t picked a favorite baseball team up to that point, and the excitement of the race between the Cubs and the Mets attracted my attention that summer. While watching a game between the Mets and Cubs I decided to root for the underdog Cubs. It was another one of those Robert Frost moments, I suppose, when you decide to be a contrarian and do the opposite of the crowd.
Why do people love the Cubs? See, here you’ve asked one of those questions that motivated me to write the book. In a nutshell I think the journey is the reward when it comes to being a fan of the Chicago Cubs. It’s a fun and unique experience, laced with the hopeful faith that one day our ship will come in. The Cubs home stadium, Wrigley Field, is a shrine of the game, and it’s set in the midst of a colorful neighborhood known as Wrigleyville, that celebrates all things Cubs and baseball. Every fan of the game, no matter what team they support, enjoys seeing a game played at Wrigley Field and partying with the Cubs fans of Wrigleyville because there is nothing else like it in the sports world.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about the Cubs while writing the book? The kindness of strangers was the thing that surprised me consistently while I was working on the Cubs book, and that would include players, fans, and even non-baseball related people I met along the way. The narrative of the book is filled with anecdotes of simply magical occurrences that came from just putting myself in the midst of humanity with one common thread: believing in a dream.
Will the Cubs ever win the World Series? Ah… this is the million-dollar question, most often asked by Cubs fans themselves. And, I predict that one day they will indeed. During my lifetime they came close several times: 1969, 1984, 1989 and 2003. It was darned exciting every time, and darned heartbreaking too. Perhaps heart wrenching is more like it… Well, anyway, yes… One day the Cubs will win it all, and so then what? I suppose then we just start all over again!
Who is (are) your female role models and why? I admire several strong women I’ve known and loved in my life, some are family relations and some friends, one being my mother, and another is my aunt, no longer with me, who dedicated their lives to hard work both in the home and in the world. In all cases they are women who by choice or by circumstance did not rely on men for their accomplishments and their strength. From history my female role models include Joan of Arc and Virginia Woolf.
For more information please visit www.stillpro.com the web site of STILL Productions, Inc., a media company which Lechner co-owns and co-directs with business partner and photojournalist Adrienne Helitzer. (Autographed copies, or bulk quantities, of Our Team-Our Dream are available at a discount by contacting the author: firstname.lastname@example.org