- Royal Blue (2000)
by Leslie Phillips (SHS) 2002
A person whose face is on almost everyone’s television set in northern Mississippi for the nightly news is Dennis Hudson. Dennis Hudson has recently published a book entitled Royal Blue, which tells the story of one of his passions, baseball. This is his first novel, published in 2000, and has put him on the long list of talented Mississippi writers.
Dennis Hudson was born on October 3, 1943, in Louisville, Mississippi, to Fred and Marjorie Hudson. His father is now deceased. His mother is currently living in Starkville, Mississippi, and is the housemother for the Sigma Chi fraternity at Mississippi State University. Hudson was married for a time to Paula Mabry, and they have two children. At the time of this writing, Heather Hudson is twenty-seven and works as the property manager at Caldwell Banker in Starkville, Mississippi, and Heath Hudson works alongside his dad at WCBI in Columbus, Mississippi. Heath Hudson is thirty-one (Mabry).
Dennis Hudson started and finished his high school career at Louisville High School, where he played on the baseball team. From these experiences on the high school baseball team, he got his ideas for his novel Royal Blue. Throughout his life, baseball has been his passion. After graduating from Louisville High School in 1961, he began classes at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. At MSU he played on the baseball team for one year. Then in 1962 he transferred to what was then Delta State College, now Delta State University. There, from 1962-1965, he played three years of baseball under the baseball legend Coach Dave “Boo” Ferris, but he did not graduate because he still lacked thirty hours.
In 1965 Dennis Hudson began his career in broadcasting. His first job was working for WLSM Radio in Louisville, Mississippi. After leaving WLSM he worked in Jackson, Mississippi, and then Miami, Florida, for the next four years. In 1969 he returned to his home state of Mississippi, where he worked at WKOR Radio in Starkville, Mississippi. Then he moved to his first job in television broadcasting at WCBI-TV in Columbus, Mississippi, where he has remained for the past eleven years. as the nightly anchor and producer for the local news. In all, he has been in the broadcasting business for forty years (Hudson).
2008 UPDATE: Dennis Hudson died since the above article was written.
A Review of Royal Blue
by Leslie Phillips (SHS) 2002
Dennis Hudson’s first novel, Royal Blue is a book about baseball. It captures every sense of the game. Even if one has never understood any part of the game, he or she can understand what goes on in this book. One gets a true sense of how it feels to be a part of a team: the spirit involved, the dedication, and the hard work that goes into being a team player.
Royal Blue is about a young high school baseball player named Brian Blazer. It follows him through his first major game to his final game as a high school student. Royal Blue tells about the times when Brian was on cloud nine but also shows when he was in the depth of despair. The novel does not just cover his times on the baseball field, but it also covers the problems teenage boys face going through high school (one of these being the opposite sex).
This novel accurately portrays a major issue in Mississippi in 1950-1960s: racism. Instead of making Mississippi look like all whites hated all blacks and vise versa, the novel shows a positive picture of the relationship between the two races. In the novel, the boys on the baseball team looked past a player’s color and accepted him as part of the team, even against some tough opposition. I like the fact that, unlike most Mississippi novels, this one captures the true heart of Mississippi’s people instead of focusing on the bad.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good book to read on a rainy day. Whether one loves baseball, hates it with a passion, or knows nothing about it, one can still enjoy this novel. It has something to which everyone can relate, whether you are that high school boy dreaming of playing professional ball, like the main character, or you are a girl trying to figure out what men find so intriguing about the baseball game, or you are the older adult reminiscing about the days when you were that high school boy.
Interview with Dennis Hudson (2002)
by Leslie Phillips (SHS)
How has living in Mississippi affected your writing?
“I don’t know that living in Mississippi has necessarily affected my writing, but I can say that living here has given me a keener appreciation of family values, the “hard work” ethic, and generally trying to be truthful and honest in everyday activities. There are some areas where this is truly not the case.”
If you could pick any career what would it be?
“If I had possessed the requisite skills, there is no question that I would have chosen to be a professional baseball player. I did have a firm grasp of the fundamentals (thanks to great coaching in my formative years), but lacked the necessary physical tools to turn it into a profession. Unfortunate, but that’s life.”
Who are your favorite authors?
”Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, the late Truman Capote, and Len Deighton.”
Where did you get the idea to write your novel?
”I decided actually to “finish” the book, more than write it. I began with the idea for a very short story about high school baseball, and simply continued to write when it grew beyond the boundaries of a short story. In the end I edited out some additional material that probably should have stayed in the original draft. If I forget to mention it, writing for the printed word (books, newspapers, etc.) is really tough for me. Although I’ve been writing for the “spoken” word (radio and television) for most of my life, the two do not go hand-in-hand. I would be considered an “average” writer in television news, and my skills are much less than that in writing for a book. I finished it because of “stubbornness” more than anything else. It took more than five years to complete although I could have finished in far less time with a concerted effort. Writing, as I said, is very difficult for me so there would be weeks when I wouldn’t write anything at all. Hard to explain, but that’s the way it happened. Don’t know how good writers can crank out book after book. I really don’t think I ever could.”
Do you plan on writing any more books?
”I am planning to write another book, probably about the television news business. A good writer once said it’s better to write about something you know about, and baseball and news are about all I know. No target date; I only have general ideas at this time.”
Who are your favorite baseball teams?
“My favorite baseball team remains the New York Yankees although my interest in them has diminished through the years. It’s become extremely difficult to root for players who make millions a year for playing a child’s game. I have become far too cynical in my old age to live and die by what a particular team does.”
How much of your novel is fact?
“Roughly twenty-five percent of the book is fact.”
What is your advice to young writers?
“My advice to young writers: Get a good agent. Seriously, if you hope to make money, you need a good agent,
publisher, etc. Tough these days.”
What is your favorite book?
Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy.”
Who was your role model growing up?
“My role model growing up was my high school baseball coach, Fred Morris.”
- Hudson, Dennis. Email Interview. March 2002.
- Hudson, Dennis. Royal Blue. United States: Xlibris, 2000.
- Mabry, Paula. Personal Interview. April 2002.