In the tradition of Friday Night Lights comes an unforgettable portrait of a small New Jersey town that became known throughout the world for the remarkable exploits of its Little League stars.
Summertime in Toms River means two things: tourists and champions. The tourists head for the beaches; the 12-year-old Little League champions can be found on the baseball diamonds, where they win titles at the local, regional, and international levels.
The Toms River dynasty began in the 1990s, when the team made it to the Little League World Series three times in five years and brought home a historic world championship victory in 1998. But with each passing summer in Toms River comes renewed pressure, as the latest collection of All-Stars strives to leave its mark on the town's imposing baseball legacy.
In Six Good Innings, acclaimed sportswriter Mark Kreidler deftly illuminates the sometimes tense relationship between Toms River and the team that carries the town's hopes and dreams. Following the most recent juggernaut through one tumultuous All-Star season, Kreidler chronicles how the coach, John Puleo, works to strike a balance between healthy competition and bloodless ambition, and how the players themselves reckon with their own fleeting fame as they tumble headlong into adolescence.
Puleo, a man with a gift for inspiring young athletes, commands a team whose recent string of successes has led to speculation that this might be the squad to extend the Toms River tradition of reaching Williamsport, site of the Little League World Series. But along the path to glory, Puleo's players will deal with unexpected injuries, a brutally difficult schedule of games, and the daunting knowledge that they have been identified throughout their region—and within the neighborhood blocks of their own baseball-crazy town—as the team to beat.
With deep empathy, incisive reporting, and intimate access, Kreidler weaves the stories of the coaches, the parents, the fans, and the true boys of summer into a memorable tableau.
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Mark Kreidler is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed Four Days to Glory: Wrestling with the Soul of the American Heartland. A regular contributor to ESPN television, ESPN.com, and ESPN: The Magazine, he lives in northern California.
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