Dig the Dunes freelance writer and LaPorte County resident, Matt Werner, has two new books published: “Dispatches from a Northern Hoosier” and “The Patch Players.”
“Dispatches from a Northern Hoosier” is a collection of articles, essays, and history Werner wrote over the past 11 years. Some were released previously on Dig the Dunes (DigtheDunes.com); others are published in this book for the first time. They capture people, places, and events from northern Indiana.
His diverse subjects include an artist who expressed his cancer through art, a steel worker who wanted to be a writer, a mysterious South Shore train wreck, a farm boy who spent 42 years in Major League Baseball, women’s basketball history, and tributes to everyday people who made a difference in the lives of others.
“Everybody has a story to tell,” Werner said. “I’m just a guy trying to write it down.”
“The Patch Players” is a children’s book that tells the real story of the first Black basketball players in Michigan City, Indiana. It is based on Werner’s 2017 article that the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists recognized as one of the best coverages of minority issues published that year.
“Lifelong Michigan City residents in their 70s and 80s today were unaware of the story of these men and the circumstances they faced,” Werner said. “They were their classmates and friends, but they had no idea. That inspired me to adapt the article for a younger audience, so they can learn the story as well.”
For those men, playing basketball was a respite from the daily injustices they faced.
“They couldn’t eat in diners, they couldn’t sit in the lower floor of the movie theater, and they couldn’t try on clothes at local department stores. We think those things only happened in the deep South, but it happened right here on the shore of Lake Michigan. I didn’t know it until Dave Greer and Dr. Bill Wright told me. That’s why I wanted to share their story.”
Werner is the author of three previous books: the award winning “Season of Upsets,” “How Sweet It Is,” and “A White Sox Life.” He works on his family farm in Union Mills, Indiana.
Werner’s books are available on amazon.com, or you can order a copy through your local bookstore.