Mark Littell says he once blew up a truck with a few sticks of dynamite. So it’s not surprising that the inventor of the Nutty Buddy protective cup thought nothing of demonstrating his product’s effectiveness by facing a 90-mile-per-hour baseball pitch thrown directly at his groin from only a short distance away.

As colorful as anyone who has ever played our national pastime, Mark’s country wit is on full display in his new book, Country Boy: Conveniently Wild, an accounting of youthful escapades in the Bootheel, the part of the state, he jokes, “that Arkansas didn’t want.” The Cape Girardeau native grew up on an 800-acre cotton and soybean farm in Gideon, becoming a standout pitcher at Gideon High School and in the American Legion amateur baseball league. He spent 10 seasons in the major leagues, pitching for the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was one of 11 individuals inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, in 2016.

Country Boy is Mark’s second book, following his 2016 memoir, On the Eighth Day, God Made Baseball. Mark, who used to enter games to John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” describes his latest work as a coming-of-age nonfiction story about how his character formed while growing up in Missouri.

“I’m gonna go to jail for this one,” he says with a laugh.

Mark and his wife, Sanna, now reside in Dickinson, North Dakota. Visit his website at