Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Location: United States

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Glove

In 1970, when I was in the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to be a baseball player, and I decided the position I wanted to play was catcher.

Why catcher?

Because, in my eyes, the coolest guy in all of sports was a catcher.

His name was Johnny Bench, and he played for the Cincinnati Reds.

My grandfather and I watched the Reds on television every chance we got, and we also listened to a lot of the games on radio. Every time Bench stepped into the batter’s box, I just knew he was going to hit a home run. And many times he did just that! He was a great hitter, but it was his defensive play behind the plate that really impressed me back then. The quickness on snagging foul tips, the arm strength and accuracy in picking off runners, the masterful pitching calls. He was the best, and I wanted to be just like him.

I can remember checking a book out of the library on the rudiments of playing the position, and I can remember hours on the front lawn with an older cousin who knew how to pitch. Someone in the neighborhood sold me some beat-up gear for a couple of bucks, a mask and a chest protector and a set of shin guards, and I thought I was on my way.

Then I got the glove.

I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was for my tenth birthday. There was a sporting goods store within walking distance of where I lived, but they didn’t have any catcher’s mitts. I think we looked in the Yellow Pages and called around and finally found a place that wasn’t too far away, and my mother drove me over there and bought the only one they had in stock, which happened to be just right for me.

I started practicing more with my cousin in the yard, and I can remember him telling me that I was a really good catcher. All I needed was a chance, I thought. A chance to play on a real team.

And the summer after fifth grade I finally got that chance.

I tried out for one of the local little league organizations and was assigned to a team called The Orioles. Unfortunately, the position of catcher had already been filled. Maybe next year, I thought. I played outfield and first base, gaining some valuable experience, even though we ended up in last place. I think we only won one game the whole season, but I was one of the best players on the team, and I got to start every game. The losses were frustrating, and my prized catcher’s mitt wasn’t getting any use, but I was still having fun.

Fast forward to the summer after sixth grade. Different league, different team, still no chance of being the catcher. The position had been taken. Disappointing, but okay. I would play outfield, or wherever the team needed me.

I was still only eleven at the time, but some of the boys had turned thirteen already. These guys were good. They were stronger than me, and more experienced, and the team manager didn’t seem to care about anything but winning.

So I ended up sitting the bench for the first two or three games.

Then, after practice one day, the manager told me that he would be starting me in the next game. I was going to start! I told everyone the great news, and several of my family members made a special effort to make it out to the ballpark to see me play.

There I was in the outfield, making spectacular shoestring catches to save base hits, making unbelievable leaps against the fence to save home runs. I could see my family in the stands cheering me on.

It was a close game, but I got on base every time I went to bat. I was doing my part to help the team. Then, bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, and I hit a grand slam to win the game!

Only none of that happened.

When I showed up at the field that day, my name wasn’t on the list of starting players. I asked the manager about this, and he said he would get me in after the first couple of innings. But he didn’t. I sat the bench the whole time.

So embarrassing. It just wasn’t right. I can remember the shame I felt, thinking about having to face my family members after the game. I was supposed to have started, and I didn’t even get to play. Not one inning. Not one minute.

To my eleven-year-old self, it was just about the worst thing that could have happened.  It was a pivotal event. At the end of the game, without saying a word, without waiting for the post-game team meeting, I walked away from the dugout and never looked back.

My catcher’s mitt went on a shelf in the closet and stayed there for a long, long time.

Baseball was over for me, but during my fifth and sixth grade school years, I’d developed another interest: playing drums.

My band director for sixth grade must have seen something he liked, some spark of talent, because he would often spend extra time with me, sometimes to the point of being late for his next class. He was a very special teacher, one that I’ll never forget. The next year, when I started going to the junior high where he taught, I was the only seventh-grader in advanced band, and by mid-year I was the #1 player in the drum section. I’d finally found something I was really good at.

And I met another very special teacher that year.

Mr. Rhodes taught social studies, and my best friend Bob and I had him at different times of the day. Bob and I had been working on our own, putting together a humor magazine called The Mag. Typing paper, rubber stamps, hand drawings, just goofing around at home and making each other laugh.

But that was about to change.

We both liked Mr. Rhodes, and we always talked about how cool he was, and on some days we would stop by his classroom after school and try out some of our jokes on him. I don’t think we even knew it at the time, but he happened to be the teaching adviser for the school newspaper, and eventually he offered to publish some of our stuff. Suddenly our crazy jokes and drawings were being seen by hundreds of other students!

Near the end of the school year, Mr. Rhodes invited us to pizza and a movie with the rest of the newspaper staff, and on another occasion he took Bob and me out for a milkshake. He was the coolest teacher we’d ever had, but at some point he made the announcement that he would not be returning to our school the following year, that he would be moving out of state. Bob and I kept in touch with him by mail for a while, but eventually Bob moved to a different part of town and we didn't see each other as often and, well, so it goes.

Fast forward forty-some years.

I’d been able to reconnect with a lot of old friends on Facebook, and one night I decided to search for Mr. Rhodes. I found a guy I thought might be him, and I sent a message, and eventually he wrote me back.

It was him!

We started chatting via email, and I soon discovered that Mr. Rhodes—my former junior high social studies teacher—had been the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, and that he was the current Team Historian.

My mind started racing.

The Cincinnati Reds.

Johnny Bench.

And I still had the catcher’s mitt my mother bought for me when I was ten.

And here it is now.

Thank you for arranging to have my childhood glove signed by all-time favorite baseball player, Mr. Rhodes. You’re still the coolest teacher I’ve ever had.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Cricket

This is a true story. I'm not exactly sure how to interpret it, but I promise that it really did happen.

 On my way to make a pot of coffee one morning, I nearly stepped on a cricket. It had somehow gotten through the garage door during the night, and now rested on a square of ceramic tile in my kitchen, its antennae twitching nervously and its glassy little eyes gleaming in the overhead fluorescent.

I stared at it for a few seconds, trying to decide what to do. I couldn’t just leave it where it was and hope that it somehow found its way outside. Not an option.

Finally, I tore a paper towel from the roll on the counter, picked the cricket up and carried it to the back of the house. I opened the door and gently placed it on the patio.

“There,” I said. “You’re free!”

But before I turned to walk away, a lizard darted from under the barbecue grill, gobbled the cricket up and swallowed it whole.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


What do Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels and private investigator Nicholas Colt have in common?

Billiards, bourbon, bad jokes…

And murder.

A homeless woman’s remains are found near Chicago twenty-six years after she disappeared. Her daughter—now retired in Florida—suspects foul play, and she hires Colt to fly up there and check it out.

A prominent Chicago physician is slain outside a convenience store, horribly mutilated. A senseless street killing? A robbery gone wrong? Or something much worse?

As the homicide cases and those involved converge, it quickly becomes apparent that Jack Daniels and Nicholas Colt are in for the most challenging—and deadly—time of their lives.

Joe and I had a lot of fun writing this book, and I hope you have a lot of fun reading it. It's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and wherever fine ebooks are sold.

We did a Q&A over on Joe's blog, and I would be happy to answer any further questions regarding the collaboration or the book itself here in the comments.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


1. Write at least 1000 words of fiction a day.

2. Publish at least four novels in a brand new series.

3. Promote my backlist to the best of my ability, using Amazon’s promotional tools, my mailing list, and paid advertising services like BookBub.

4. Check my sales no more than once a day.

5. Stay positive. Focus on the writing, and try not to allow things beyond my control (see #4) to dictate my moods.

6. Maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise at least 30 minutes every day.

7. Read books that inspire me.

8. Be supportive of my fellow authors. Celebrate their successes.

9. Share whatever wisdom I’ve gained to new and aspiring authors who ask for advice.

10. Entertain. This is job #1, and there’s value in it, even though what I’m doing is probably not very important in the grand scheme of things.

What are some of your goals for the new year?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A First?

Today, November 26, 2013, I am releasing two brand new novels simultaneously.

BLOOD TATTOO  (A Nicholas Colt Thriller), and its follow-up SYCAMORE BLUFF (A Nicholas Colt/Diana Dawkins Thriller). The e-book version of each is priced at $4.99, so you can get both for less than ONE new release from a traditional publisher.

 Has anyone ever released two new novels at the same time? If so, I'm not aware of it.

In the old days, before the e-book revolution, such a thing would have been nearly impossible. Most publishers didn't want their authors releasing more than one book a YEAR, fearful that the market wouldn't tolerate multiple annual titles from a single author. But those days are long gone, and now it's theoretically possible for an author to publish ten (or a hundred!) books concurrently if he or she wants to.

With e-books, there is unlimited shelf space, so these novels will be just as available for instant purchase ten years from now as they are today. And e-books are priced lower than paper books, so customers can enjoy more titles for less money.

I should note that BLOOD TATTOO is also available in trade paperback, and that SYCAMORE BLUFF will soon be available in that format as well. Some people prefer paper and are willing to pay the extra price for it, and there's nothing wrong with that. You can even skip reading altogether and listen to the audiobook version of BLOOD TATTOO if that's your preference.

More choices = a better literary experience for everyone.

It's a great time to be a writer, and a book lover.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coming November 26, 2013

After last year’s harrowing experience with a gruesome serial killer in Key West, rock-star-turned-PI Nicholas Colt has decided to hang up his investigator hat and settle into a nice quiet life of teaching guitar and spending time with his family. Or so he thinks…

Unfortunately, everything changes when an undercover Department of Defense investigator named Diana Dawkins comes crashing into his life. Diana tells Colt he has been recruited into The Circle, a super-secret organization—a mystery even to the CIA and the Secret Service—charged with protecting the country from terrorists at any cost. The only evidence of his involvement is a tiny spot—a “blood tattoo” on his left foot, invisible to the naked eye—that marks all members of The Circle. Diana needs Colt’s help, and she’s willing to pay him well for it.

Suddenly, Colt finds himself a key player in an elaborate effort to defend the President of the United States against an assassination attempt. His hush-hush missions for Diana and The Circle are becoming increasingly surreal—and deadly. Colt realizes he could lose everything, even the wife he loves. Will he be able to stop the terrorists in time? And at what cost?

Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Title, New Cover


Buy it HERE.