KANSAS CITY -- Royals play-by-play broadcaster Steve Physioc has seen baseball serve as the backdrop for much of his professional career, but the story of his most recent endeavor began far away from America's pastime -- and the country itself.This past spring, Physioc self-published a full-length novel titled "The Walls
KANSAS CITY -- Royals play-by-play broadcaster Steve Physioc has seen baseball serve as the backdrop for much of his professional career, but the story of his most recent endeavor began far away from America's pastime -- and the country itself.
This past spring, Physioc self-published a full-length novel titled "The Walls of Lucca," which follows the journey of the workers of an Italian vineyard during the fallout of World War I and the rise of fascism in the country.
The inspiration for the story came when Physioc and his wife, Stacey, took a trip to Italy in 2006. During one of their first nights there, Physioc had a vivid dream of a city and its inhabitants surrounded by towering walls. Normally he would shrug off such an occurrence, but this time, something prompted him to get up and write the vision down.
Days later, when their tour of the country brought them to the city of Lucca, everything clicked.
"As we're driving in, I see this great walled city," Physioc said. "And I go, 'My gosh, this is it! This is the city that was in my dream!'"
The story would not be told until far after the Physiocs returned home, however. The writing began in 2006, but the book wasn't truly finished until the end of Spring Training this past year. Physioc was pitted against the time-consuming schedule of a multi-sport broadcaster over those years, although he believes he was able to keep himself as productive as possible.
"Some guys like to golf on their days off," Physioc said. "I would write. Or when I got back to the hotel room, I would write. Or on the team bus, I would write."
The themes of love, loss and triumph are not foreign to Physioc, but the subject matter was not something he was initially familiar with. Countless hours were invested in researching things ranging from gardening and winemaking processes to the intricacies of fascist political dynamics and historical leaders.
This ignorance did not come as a deterrent, though. While the writing process was also largely a learning experience, he believes this allowed for a more natural, believable flow to the story's events.
"As you might imagine, I wrote a book about things I know nothing about ... but the history drove my characters," Physioc said. "It told me where they could be, where they had to go."
While he wrote about things alien to him, his influences were still present. Baseball and winemaking are inherently different practices, but in the eyes of Physioc, similar lessons and philosophies can be drawn from both. So, just as the root of an olive nestles itself into the rocky foundation of the earth, the root of his story lies within his own foundation: baseball.
"I saw it certainly with our team in 2014 and 2015, where guys put their own self-interests aside and play for the other guy, and amazing things happened," Physioc said. "In this case, it was two families trying to produce a great Sangiovese wine, but things were holding them back. ... That's how I was inspired."
Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.