Arlington Heights park is backdrop for new children's book about baseball

Paul Petricca has spent nearly three decades teaching hundreds of Little League, high school and college baseball and softball players how to hit. Many of those lessons took place at Recreation Park, across the street from his house in Arlington Heights, where daughter Elaine and sons Ricky and Sam played.

The experiences of Paul Petricca's three children growing up playing baseball and softball were the inspiration for his new children's book. And, the characters in the book are named after his kids: Ricky, from left, Sam and Elaine. Courtesy of Paul Petricca

Those experiences were the inspiration for Petricca's new book, "Going Going Gone!" - which is as much children's story as it is hitting manual.

The 36-page book, released in June by Archway Publishing, also includes illustrator Dan Vick's depictions of Arlington Heights locales, such as the Lloyd Meyer Field at Recreation Park and Grandt's Shell rocket (a long-standing local landmark until the gas station closed at the end of 2020).

Petricca says Vick not only captured the local backdrops, but also the precise hitting template Petricca has developed and taught as a coach.

In the story, young players Elaine and Ricky are taking batting practice at Recreation Park when they're swept away by a strange wind to another world. They land at a ballpark and are approached by a friendly alien, Sam, who wants to learn how to launch a ball into space. The kids teach the green ballplayer the fundamentals of the swing until he hits one that's "going going gone!"

Arlington Heights author and hitting coach Paul Petricca signed copies of his new children's book "Going Going Gone!" after the July 4 parade near his house by Recreation Park. Courtesy of Paul Petricca

"It really does teach a hitting technique," Petricca said. "That's what I was going for. I think it's a fun story. But it's also an instructional book. And I think that's something that the publisher and I are hoping that's very unique. There's no other book on the market (like it)."

The book is adapted from a chapter, "An Alien Approach To Hitting," in his 2017 manual, "Hitting With Torque: For Baseball and Softball Hitters." His first book was an outgrowth from a popular hitting blog he started nearly a decade ago,

"Going Going Gone!" is available at online bookstores, the Sports Scene store in Palatine, and libraries in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Park Ridge and Rolling Meadows.

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