Peg Connery-Boyd has come a long way from drawing pictures of Red Sox players in the attic of her Library Street home in Mystic.
It was just three years ago that Connery-Boyd negotiated a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball that allowed her to publish an annual line of coloring and activity books for each of the 30 major league teams.
Since then her books for the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Cubs and White Sox, have sold well.
The books sell for $11.99 and have puzzles, trivia and games such as "You Make the Call" and are geared toward older children. Now, Major League Baseball has given her permission to publish similar books geared toward smaller children that will retail for just $3.99 in toy stores, supermarkets and bookstores.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have even inquired about Boyd doing a book for their team so they can give it to fans at one of their games.
"I'm really excited about this from a business standpoint," she says. "I have a feeling we're going to sell a ton of these."
Connery-Boyd says she got the idea for a younger version of the book from parents and grandparents she talked to at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair last fall.
Parents were interested in books that would still have the drawings of players to color but have simpler mazes and games for younger children, she says.
Grandparents liked the original books but balked at spending $11.99 for each of their six grandchildren.
"This will give us wider distribution and get the books into the hands of more people," she says, adding that it will also expose younger kids and their families to her original line of books.
"We've done OK with the original books but I have three boys to put through college," she jokes.
"We're excited about the national distribution. We have a lot of opportunities," she says, adding that, as well as Big Y supermarkets, Hudson News, which has more than 500 outlets in 70 airports across the country, will carry the books.
Connery-Boyd says Major League Baseball officials worked with her on the new books and are enthusiastic about the lower-priced offering.
Unlike the players pictured on the cover of the original books, the new covers have a bat, ball and hat with the team name and logo.
"We tried to make it really cute," she says.
The late winter and early spring are a busy time for Connery-Boyd, who has assembled a network of artists and writers to create the books while she spends more time on the business end of the operation.
She has to wait to include some players in the books because last minute trades and free agent signings could make them obsolete, she says.
This year, for instance, she had to wait to see who would sign new Mets outfielder Jason Bay and whether the Yankees would sign Johnny Damon. When that did not happen, she quickly drew new Yankee outfielder Curtis Granderson so he could be included in the books.
"It really gets crazy this time of the year," says Connery-Boyd.
She recently moved her business, which is called Hawks Nest Publishing, out of her home and into an office on Route 1.
Last year, she produced a tennis coloring and activity book for the U.S. Open, and she has been approached about doing a line of books for the National Hockey League.
But what she really wants to do are books for National Football League teams, something she said would be incredibly lucrative, not to mention that her family has had season tickets for the New England Patriots for the past 20 years.
"I'd love to draw Tom Brady," says Connery-Boyd.
Connery-Boyd came up with the idea for the baseball books in 2005 when she went looking for a baseball activity book to keep her then-10-year-old son occupied on a road trip that included a game at Fenway Park. When she couldn't find one, she decided she could do one herself and began sketching players starting with the Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.
She says she is not surprised about the success of the books since then.
"But I'm amazed at what I do during the day, whether it's creating a display or going to a sports trade show," she says. "I thought I was just doing a little book, but it's taken me places I never thought I would go."