Former JU All-American baseball pitcher authors children’s book

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Matt Dobbins is one of the best pitchers to ever play at Jacksonville University. In 2006, he went 12-2 and was named an All-American during his sophomore season. Now, Dobbins works for an IT company, often traveling around the country.

He can add “author” to his resume now as well.

Dobbins has written a book called “Duncan’s First Flight.” The son of a former professional storyteller (yes, that’s a thing and Dobbins mom was a good one), the lefthander said it was in his blood to tell a story like this.

Dobbins says he was inspired to write the story while settling in on one of many trips he takes with his day job.

“I was on a plane and a lady was coming home from a work trip,” Dobbins said. “And she sat down, she looked a little bit nervous. And she was like, ‘did you realize that 30% of people are scared to get on an airplane or have some kind of anxiety about flying?’ We started just talking. And that got me thinking. And on a Delta flight napkin, I just started sketching out the beginnings of what Duncan’s First Flight turned out to be.”

Here’s what that story became: Duncan is afraid to fly for the first time. His supportive sidekick, a kangaroo named Ridley Roo, helps Duncan overcome his fear of flying.

“I think we can probably all relate to the kind of fear of the unknown,” Dobbins said. “But with a little help from his kangaroo sidekick Ridley Roo, he kind of helps him push Duncan to get on the flight and answers questions for him.”

The words came from Dobbins, but he’s not a visual artist. Luckily, he didn’t have to go far to find one.

“My wife’s brother, Charles Hedrick, he’s a University of Florida grad and he is an art major,” Dobbins said. “I was like, kind of approached him over Christmas of last year as like, ‘Hey, I got this idea. Would you be open to doing this?’ He used to do some cartooning. And he knocked out the park.”

Dobbins says he’s seen support coming from all of the community as the book gains more and more attention.

“One of the most gratifying parts of doing this is seeing people from all aspects of my wife and Jacksonville buying the book, but then sending me pictures of the book with their kids. It’s, it’s really cool to see kind of something that started at a Delta plane napkin and made it to, you know, homes of people.”

Dobbins also says he would love to write a few more books about Duncan and Ridley Roo. Maybe even a baseball book about bouncing back after failure.

Duncan’s First Flight is available at some local bookstores like Chamblain’s and San Marco Books and More and it’s also available on Amazon.