Tom Swift’s book (Chief Bender’s Burden) a local bestseller

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chief bender's burdenNorthfielder Tom Swift has a book out titled Chief Bender’s Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star. He did a reading last night at Monkey See Monkey Read where he works part-time. Owner Jerry Bilek posted a review to his blog a couple weeks ago. Jerry said last night that the book is his best-selling ever, with the exception of the recent Harry Potter book.

Tom also works part-time at River City Books (see the Tom’s top-ten page there) where the book is the store’s current #1 bestseller. Tom did a book reading at the store last week, too, blogged by The Raven on the River City Books blog. (Full disclosure: I did some contract work for RCB to help launch the blog.) The Raven also blogged about the book on

Northfield News managing editor Jaci Smith wrote an article a month ago about Tom’s book titled, Swift tells story of oft-forgotten pitcher. (Tom was editor of the Northfield News for a few years earlier this decade.)

You can follow Tom’s adventures on his blog, Tom Swift Writer’s Notebook. (His classy website was designed by LoGroNo’s designer, Sean Hayford O’Leary, who also does contract work for me.)


  1. Jerry Bilek said:

    thanks for blogging about Tom’s reading. I uploaded the audio file to my blog if anyone wants to hear the reading:
    We’re hoping to pass Harry Potter sales this month.

    April 11, 2008
  2. Tom Swift said:

    Many thanks, Griff. You always take such good photographs even when, as in this case, the subject is not photogenic.

    Thanks, too, to Jerry and The Monkey for hosting the event — it was a terrific opportunity for me. I am grateful to those who were able and interested to attend, especially on a night made for the living room sofa.

    April 11, 2008
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Wow, that’s cool, Tom. Don’t hold back on the coment updates here. We want to follow you all the way to your (presumed) appearances on Oprah and The Daily Show!

    April 15, 2008
  4. That’s awesome, Tom! I am enjoying reading the book and as a researcher/writer myself, I know how much time you must have put into gathering all the data and putting it into a cohesive, very readable form. There are many people who toil on books for years and can’t find a publisher, so congratulations on that! And now you can reap some rewards of all that effort.
    I was also pleased that the title of the Washington Post article is “The Boys of Spring,” which references Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” as a generic name for ballplayers. When I worked as Roger’s research assistant in New York, we used to collect such media references to that nomenclature and Roger always said he wished he could have patented the title of his 1972 best-seller.
    Cheers to you, Tom!

    April 15, 2008
  5. Tom Swift said:

    Thanks, Griff and Susan. You won’t see my face on the tube anytime soon, but your encouragement is kind.

    I don’t have either of my two copies handy, Susan, but did Mr. Kahn come up with that title reading Dylan Thomas?

    April 16, 2008
  6. Yes, it comes from the Dylan Thomas lines, “I see the boys of summer in their ruin/Lay the gold tithings barren,/Setting no store by harvest, freeze the soils.” I believe Roger saw Dylan Thomas recite these lines many years ago in NY and they made quite an impression on him.

    April 16, 2008
  7. OK, I’m going to have to break down and buy a copy of this at your store, Jerry. I’ve been a fool for baseball history since I was a kid. I’m such a skinflint (a trait inherited from my Depression-baby parents) that I’m a library junkie and relatively rarely buy books, though no day is complete without bed-time reading. What could be better than reading about one of my guilty pleasures (baseball), passing the book on to my wife and son (who share my guilty pleasure), and supporting a fine local establishment and a fine local writer???

    April 23, 2008
  8. Jerry Bilek said:

    The book is great, no joke, from the Sun Times:
    “Swift writes in his wonderful and impressively thorough new biography”
    I’ve still got a stack of signed copies.

    April 23, 2008
  9. Tom Swift said:

    Thank you, Griff, for sharing the link. Never expected even to be mentioned in a newspaper such as the Chicago Sun-Times.

    Thank you, Bruce, for buying a copy. I hope it’s worth the investment.

    Thank you, Jerry, for your expert endorsement.

    April 24, 2008
  10. Sherry Lewis said:

    Hi Tom, I’m Sherry Lewis(Bender). I’ve been waiting for this book on Charles Albert Bender when I saw that it was in the making about a year ago. Doing a little internet search tonight I was very glad to see that it’s finished.

    My father, Charles Roosevelt Bender, used to tell me that this famous baseball player was our relative and spoke very proudly. I thought he was kidding but several times in his life he told me about our ‘relative’ and said that he wasn’t kidding and I should pay attention.

    About 18 years ago I saw a picture of Charles Albert Bender. I just stared- same face, build, nose, ears, everything like my father. Could have been a twin. At that moment I knew that he wasn’t kidding but I never got a chance to tell him since he’d died a few years prior. He would have loved the pictures that are now so available on the web. Seems that C.A. Bender was quiet, slow to anger and thoughtfully spoke as well, like my father.

    So your book is going to be a treasure to our family. I’m getting 3 copies tomorrow, two which will go to my grown-up kids. Thanks for having the talent and taking the time to write this book. Sherry

    May 8, 2008
  11. Tom Swift said:

    Terrific to hear from you, Sherry. While writing the book I contacted as many relatives as I could find. Funny, but you’re the second one to contact ME in the last week. Another member of the extended Bender family also wrote a gracious message that I posted (with his permission) to my blog:

    If you have a minute, I would welcome an e-mail from you, as I would love to learn where you sit on the family tree. I can be reached directly via my Web site (

    Either way, thanks for your kind note.

    May 8, 2008
  12. Sherry Lewis(Bender) said:

    OH, did you get my message? I think it failed. Anyway, yes, thank you Tom- I’ll get back with some ancestors tomorrow since I had a 102 year old Aunt, a Bender, who was interviewed and so I have some relatives’ names going pretty far back.

    I’ll get back by Sunday as I’m a musician and swamped till Sunday. Thanks for asking! Sherry PS I have our books on their way now and am excited to read mine!

    May 9, 2008

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