Another great book from Frank Nappi, alleviating my baseball withdrawal symptoms in the long wait until spring training.
In this book, we meet back up with Mickey and Murph, struggling to come to terms with what happened to Mickey at the end of the last book and get back to playing ball. Mickey has decided that he doesn’t want to play anymore, a decision fully supported by his concerned mother, Molly. Molly has moved in with Murph and Mickey and their relationship is blossoming slowly, as she learns to let go of the controlling past with her ex-husband Clarence.
But Murph needs Mickey to play, the team owner has given him an ultimatum and without Mickey his career is over. Some gentle persuasion from Murph is needed to bring Mickey around.
This book moves on from the difficult subject matter of the last book by diving straight into another tough subject, the racial tensions of the time and the Ku Klux Klan monstrosities that were perpetrated. And Murph jumps right into the center of the trouble when he decides to get a young black man called Lester to come and catch for his team. The baseball colour barrier has only just been broken with Jackie Robinson’s debut, and this small town isn’t quite as accepting.
We stick with Murph, Mickey and Lester through the ups and downs on the season, although these tend to be unfortunately mostly downs. The ups include Murph and Molly getting married, although this was skimmed over in less than a page, which was a little disappointing. Like this, there were other parts of the book where I would have liked to spend a little more time, but all in all, the pacing and the focus of the book was great.
Coming up towards the end of the book, I was getting concerned, then downright angry about how it looked like it was going to end. That is, until the last few pages when the author threw in a curveball (pun most definitely intended) and changed the ending in an extremely unexpected way.
I’ll be sad to let Mickey go now, as I don’t think there’s another sequel and since this was published 3 years ago, I won’t hold out much hope that we’ll get one.
Another great book recommended for any baseball fan more interested in the history of the game and the tensions of the time.