A-Rod the author: Yankees star a hit

Line of fans waiting to have their copy signed by Yankees superstar reached from FAO Schwarz's around to Madison Avenue.

a-rod 88 (photo credit: )
a-rod 88
(photo credit: )
Alex Rodriguez signed copies of his children's book, sang "Do-Re-Mi" with his daughter, posed for paparazzi, and spoke in English and Spanish to a horde of camera crews before heading up to the Bronx for a tilt with the Devil Rays. Let's see J.K. Rowling do that. By noon Friday, the line of fans waiting to have their copy of "Out of the Ballpark," or "¡Jonron!" as the Spanish version is titled, signed by the Yankees superstar reached from FAO Schwarz's main entrance near Central Park South around to Madison Avenue. Sure, fans of Rowling's Harry Potter series are lining up at bookstores in Phnom Penh, Dublin and other places where A-Rod wouldn't even be noticed, and sure, she makes even more than the man who signed the richest contract in pro sports. Nevertheless, the third baseman's wizardry with the bat - and pen - drew a crowd of hundreds. In the book, Rodriguez's second after writing "Hit a Grand Slam!" while he was with the Seattle Mariners, a green-eyed youngster named Alex lets a grounder get between his legs at second base and loses a popup in playoff games attended by friends and family. A group of 9-year-olds in T-shirts lolled on a carpet at the feet of Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia, as she read them the story of Alex. "I wrote this book because my daughter loves to read," Rodriguez said. "She must have like 50 books." Lisa Rattazzi and her boys - Yankees fans from Fresno, Calif., - were first in line. They put off their return trip and showed up at 3:15 Friday morning to wait in line. Right around 1 o' clock, 13-year-old Michael was the first to get his copy signed. After that long of a wait, what was next on the agenda? "We're probably going to go back to the hotel and take a nap," Rattazzi said. While fans waited outside on a sunny afternoon, Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez entered the cavernous toy store from the back, strolled past the teddy bears and sundae bar surrounded by separate retinues of handlers and security, and were greeted in the front of the store by clamoring photographers and a burst of flashbulbs. Cynthia, who earlier this month wore a shirt with a profanity printed on the back to a game at Yankee Stadium, wore a simple sundress with spaghetti straps. The couple sat down and were joined shortly by their 2-year-old daughter, Natasha. Alex, asked Natasha her favorite color ("blue"), her mother's favorite color ("purple") and her father's favorite song ("doe a deer"). Father and daughter then sang a couple bars of the song from "The Sound of Music," although Natasha appeared a bit cowed by the dozens of cameramen and photographers snapping pictures and shouting instructions from behind a metal police-style barricade. Performing in front of a big crowd takes some getting used to, as readers of "Out of the Ballpark" learn. Cynthia read from the book while Alex turned the pages of his copy so the children could follow along with Frank Morrison's lushly painted illustrations. At some parts, Cynthia Rodriguez paused to note when a passage was inspired by a true story. "(His teacher) Ms. Gonzalez called his mom and said 'Alex can't play baseball before school because he's too smelly,'" Cynthia said when she reached the part when Alex drags his friend out of bed at 5 in the morning to hit balls. "I would say it's about 90 percent true," Alex Rodriguez said. Rodriguez wrote "Hit a Grand Slam!" when he was with Seattle. It was about a ballplayer growing up in a single-parent home. His parents, Victor and Lourdes, divorced when he was 8. "I wish I read more as a child," Rodriguez said. "As a child, as a youngster, you can never have too many books."