I am so pleased to announce that the contract for Book 4 of the Marie Jenner Mystery series — Dying on Second–has been signed. It’s a go, folks!
To celebrate, I’ve put together a short picture/word essay… Guess what Marie Jenner’s up to in this next book!
Diamond Three, at John Fry Park. Now a parking lot…
The original Diamond Two, now a baseball diamond.
Where the Ladies League used to play… And where they play now.
And… my daughter, pitching. (Because, why the heck not???)
All photos were taken by me at John Fry Park in 2015. I haven’t been back, so I don’t know if the city has cleaned up the debris by the new diamonds yet. If they have–sorry. If not–well, shame on you!
Why did I decide to write a mystery novel set at a softball park that used to cater primarily to women’s softball, but now doesn’t? Because my daughter played softball, and I’m pissed off about how her league was treated, that’s why.
Remember, I usually set my novels in places that are gone. This now includes Diamond Two, at John Fry Park.
The Edmonton Ladies Fastball League has been in existence for many years. (Don’t have the exact number of years, but will do my best to find out.) In its heyday, there were 100 teams playing. 100 women’s softball teams, playing in the City Of Edmonton!
The Ladies League was moved from the McCauley area so the Commonwealth Stadium could be built in 1974. In return, they were promised good ball diamonds, washrooms and a concession. In the end, they got three diamonds, temporary washrooms and no concessions. (Goldstick Park, men’s baseball, got the permanent everything. The women got “temporary” washrooms that, as far as I know, are still there.)
Although it was supposed to be a park for women’s softball, two diamonds were given to men’s teams right from the jump. Diamond One is a baseball diamond, and Diamond Three was originally for men’s softball. (By the time we started going to the park, Diamond Three had reverted primarily to women’s softball.)
So, the Ladies League had access to a beautiful park, with two great diamonds with most of the amenities (lights, bleachers), plus two more diamonds that were adequate. It was quite wonderful, even though the washrooms remained temporary and the concession never materialized.
The Ladies League held some amazing tournaments here over the years. Nationals, and Worlds, among others. We saw some of the best soft ball players in Canada, playing right in our back yard. For my daughter, this was the big leagues, and she couldn’t wait to play there.
A few years ago, the Ladies League was approached by the city. We are finally going to upgrade John Fry Park, they were told. What would they like to see? Gee, they replied, permanent washrooms would be nice. And maybe a concession, so they could hold more events. What we were promised 40 years before. How about that?
Here’s what they got: Three diamonds, clinging to the outside of the park.(With Portapotties, because these diamonds are so far away from the original facilities, a person can’t actually use them anymore.)
What did they lose? They lost the two diamonds in the middle of the park. Plus, generally speaking, access to the park itself. Now, Diamond Two is a baseball diamond. Little league uses it. And Diamond Three? It’s now a parking lot.
The umpires get dressed in their cars, and the people who come to watch the games spend most of their time tracking down lost balls. (The new diamonds back onto a busy street, and the backstops are so short that they stop no errant foul balls.)
So, I decided it was important that Marie spend a little time there. At Diamond Two, which, in my book, doesn’t go to Little League. It stays a beautiful, wonderful softball diamond, haunted by the ghosts of the past…