Each summer, on the fields of glorious Cape Marlin, off the New England coast, the nation's best college players gather to play the most important baseball of their lives.
Jack Faber is one of them. The son of a struggling Louisiana sugar farmer, Faber is a young hotshot pitcher with an unhittable slider and rocket for a fastball. He plays for the fabled Seapuit Seawolves and dreams of making the Big Show, like many of his teammates: the catcher, Tony Garcia, fast-talking, irreverent prelaw student from Northwestern; Doughnut Davis, the erratic pitching phenom from the University of Georgia, who can throw a heat-seeking 93-mph screamer over the edge of the plate, followed by a 93-mph screamer over the umpire's head; the Citadel's slick officer cadet infielders, Rick Adams and Bobby Madison; the steel-armed outfielder, Ray Sweeney, son of a Maine fisherman; and the Sooner's first baseman, Zac Colbert, from Mickey Mantle's hometown of Spavinaw, Oklahoma.
In the middle of it all, Jack's dad, Ben Faber, who can barely make ends meet on his bayou sugar farm, is falling in love with Garcia's mother, Natalie, the beautiful and penniless classical music teacher from the Chicago tenements. Their budding long-distance romance can hardly make it off the ground, as they can't travel and can't afford even a phone call. And their hopes for their sons are at odds: For Natalie, it is for Tony to get his act together-forget about this school yard game, go to law school and become a successful attorney. For Ben, it is for Jack to land a huge contract in the major leagues.
Jack triumphantly becomes the Cape's MVP, but disaster awaits him when he returns to school in Louisiana. A new coach, the scowling Bruno Riazzi, a former pro catcher, resents the kid's celebrity status and decides he needs to knock him down a peg or two. And he'll stop at nothing to make it happen.
Humiliated, Jack loses his lifelong art, and with it his passion for the game and, mysteriously, his ability to throw. His fastball has become tentative, his curve timid, and the beloved slider floats up to the plate like a volleyball. It has happened before to pros like Rick Ankiel and Mark Wohlers, brilliantly successful pitchers who suddenly lost it. A devastated Jack Faber is released from the St. Charles College roster.
But the Seawolves coaches won't give up on him. They bring Jack back to Cape Marlin, determined to help him rediscover his lost talent. He finds himself again under the summer sun, coaches and old friends standing by him. But in the end it will be up to Jack.
Based on a true story, Slider celebrates the national pastime, a game that can break grown men's hearts -- as well as make them whole again.
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Patrick Robinson is the author of seven international bestselling suspense thrillers, including Nimitz Class and Hunter Killer, as well as several nonfiction bestsellers. He divides his time between Ireland and Cape Cod.From Publishers Weekly:
Known for writing submarine thrillers like The Shark Mutiny, Robinson demonstrates his knowledge and love of baseball in this tale of a Louisiana college student who opts to play summer ball in Maine for a league that has produced a number of major league players. Jack Faber's father, Ben, an impoverished sugar cane farmer, drives him up the coast, and on the way they pick up another outstanding prospect, Tony Garcia, accompanied by his mother, Natalie. Natalie is a struggling music teacher and adamantly opposed to Tony playing baseball. In spite of their differences, Natalie and Ben are attracted to each other. Jack has a terrific season with the Seapuit Seawolves, is named most valuable player and is offered a major league contract, which he turns down. When Jack returns to college, a tough new coach breaks his spirit in a matter of days with unwarranted criticism, and Jack ends up quitting baseball. But his coaches in Maine still believe in him and invite him back to the Cape Marlin Baseball Summer League, where they rebuild his confidence with infinite care. The story might have ended here, but Robinson heads off on a tangent in the final pages when a billionaire major league owner forces his underproducing team to play an exhibition game against the Seawolves, the catch being that if his team loses he will shut down the franchise. The ending defies credibility as does a deus ex machina discovery of natural gas on Ben Faber's property that makes him a multimillionaire and allows him and Natalie to get together. Plenty of baseball play-by-play provides fodder for fans, but scattered action distracts from the fun, and too many characters crowd the playing field.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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