Friday, May 8, 2009

A New Baseball Classic

Mudville Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Life is full of defining moments, and baseball is no exception. From Walt Dropo’s 15-hit run, to the immortal plays of Tinker to Evers to Chance to learning how to eat a hotdog (mustard and NO KETCHUP!), Mudville breathes new life into baseball legends and tells a great story along the way.

It’s all about the percentages. There’s a one in a billion chance that it will rain 8,030 consecutive days in a little town in the Dakotas, but with more than a billion towns that have existed on the earth, Moundville is the town that gets drenched. And it’s proof-positive of percentages that the rain started just in time to cause a rain-delay in the bottom of the fourth inning of the big game between Sinister Bend and Moundville. It has nothing to do with an old Indian curse or even the long-standing rivalry between the settlers and the natives, at least that’s what Roy McGuire would like to think.

So when Roy comes home from baseball camp to find his room invaded by his new foster brother, a descendant of the now-flooded town of Sinister Bend, Roy puts forth a worthy effort to make room in his life for Sturgis. But Sturgis doesn’t make himself easy to love or even like. While the boys finally connect with Sturgis playing pitcher to Roy’s catcher, there is still the issue of the unfinished game and Sturgis’ past standing between them.

Roy McGuire is my new favorite catcher—sorry, A.J. You know I will always love the 2005 White Sox, but I’ve got to make room in my heart for the up-and-coming players—and Moundville is my new field of dreams. Full of humor, great plays and characters that jump off the pages, Kurtis Scaletta has created a defining moment in baseball literature. And you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the romance of the game and feel a connection to the players that you hope both win and lose the big game.

(And you know this book is good when a White Sox fan gives it five stars even though the Cubs win the Cross Town Classic that Roy watches. At that moment I knew this was a fantasy novel.)

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