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Friday, October 20, 2006

When October Comes

I had a friend who insisted that when Barry Manilow crooned, "When October Comes" that he was bemoaning the end of the baseball season. We were both Detroit Tigers fans, so most of the time when October came, there were no more games. Every so often, though, like this year, the Tigers would surprise us and make it to the playoffs.

Nowadays I live a tad too far away to see the Tigers play much, though my 8-year-old son made it to a game with his grandpa this year. I'm much more likely to catch a minor league game or simply read about it in the newspaper.

One of our Book Help Web contributors is a far more avid fan than I (though not of the the Tigers) and is known to read the baseball tome or two. Most recently, he submitted a review of a Lee Gruenfeld (aka Troon McAllister) book. It somehow seems appropriate that Gruenfeld wrote a book about a savant given that he himself was somewhat of a child prodigy. He won his first music scholarship at age 6. Since then he has excelled in every career he has turned his hand to whether it be music, information technology, systems development, or writing.

As Troon McAllister, he writes sports novels, including The Boy Who Batted 1.000. Here's an excerpt from our review:

Adapted and updated from an old story, The Kid Who Batted 1.000 is rich in baseball lore, tradition and fan love. The mix of anecdotes from all levels of baseball is sufficient to please the player who never went beyond junior high as well as someone who played in the minors. That is a wide range to fill.

But make no mistakes. This is not the children's book from the 1950s. Youngsters will need to be steered clear of language and other adult issues, well into their junior high school years. Others may not see the magic in the moonlight Doc Graham called upon in Field of Dreams, but baseball fans will enjoy the ride.

The Plot In Exactly One Hundred Words

Marvin is a college geek with a special gift. With a savant's uncanny knowledge of geometry and physics, he can make contact with any pitched ball. The balls all go foul since Marvin isn't an athlete, but he wears pitchers down. The smart ones give him an intentional walk when he starts playing for a bad Des Moines professional team. Others throw pitch after pitch, only tiring themselves. Baseball is only an exercise for Marvin, something he does for fun before heading to MIT, and despite a magical future for him as a professional, Marvin stays true to his dream.


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