Jim Bouton; Eliot Asinof Strike Zone

ISBN 13: 9780670852147

Strike Zone

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9780670852147: Strike Zone
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Two expert writers on baseball offer an exciting tale about Sam Ward, an aging minor league pitcher, who gets a chance to pitch in the Majors, and Ernie Kolacka, an umpire, who has agreed to fix the game. 75,000 first printing. $75,000 ad/promo. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

What better venue for the story of two hard-luck underachievers than the baseball field, where anyone can try to attain the American dream? Sam Ward, at age 32 possibly the oldest rookie in baseball, has been called up from the minors by the Chicago Cubs to pitch against Philadelphia as the teams vie for a spot in the National League playoffs. This is the seventh time Ward has been sent to the majors for a short stint, and it may be his last chance to prove that he is of big-league caliber. The greatest obstacle to this dream is not his inconsistent knuckleball or the Phillies' line-up, but head umpire Ernie Kolacka, now calling the last game of his 38- year career. Twenty-four of those years were spent disappointingly in the minors, where he felt like an innocent man in prison, but he waited for his release with dignity and did not scab when the major league umpires went on strike. Kolacka has never even bent the rules to favor the home team, but today he must orchestrate a Phillies victory in order to repay a debt to a Korean War buddy in gambling trouble. During the fateful nine innings, Ward pitches the game of his life, but Kolacka quickly becomes a master at making crooked calls look like fair play. The field is shared by wisecracking players, umpires, and fans--all of them familiar caricatures who aren't nearly as zany as the authors think. Ward and Kolacka are the memorable characters here; they sacrificed their marriages and never signed million-dollar contracts, persevering out of love of the sport. Their story demonstrates that the man of principle is the true hero of baseball. Asinof (Eight Men Out, not reviewed) and Bouton (Ball Four, 1970) have written a pleasant diversion for an off-season Saturday afternoon. (First printing of 75,000; $75,000 ad/promo; author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Sam Ward is a 32-year-old career minor leaguer called up for a September cup of coffee with the Chicago Cubs. Ernie Kolcka is a veteran umpire who'll end a lengthy career with the season's final game between the Cubs and the Phillies. The winner of the game will go on to the play-offs; the loser goes home. Circumstances coalesce to entangle Ward and Kolcka. Sore arms and injuries force the Cubs to pitch Ward despite his lack of experience. Meanwhile, Kolcka is asked to fix the game by the man who saved his life during the Korean War. As the game progresses, we experience the action both from the mound with Ward and from behind the plate with Kolcka. As the lead shifts, each man reconsiders his life and ponders the future. Bouton, former big-league pitcher and the infamous author of Ball Four (1970), the first tell-all, behind-the-scenes baseball expos{‚}e, handles the scenes from Ward's perspective. Asinof, best known for Eight Men Out (1963), an account of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal, presents Kolcka's view. As drama, this is as predictable as Rocky; as a thoughtful study of two men facing a personal crossroad, though, it works well. Both characters have severely damaged their key relationships in order to pursue their careers; both are forced to examine their obsessions and priorities through the course of the game. This is a readable and reasonably entertaining baseball thriller that will profit from the Bouton name on the title page. Wes Lukowsky

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780451183347: Strike Zone

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0451183347 ISBN 13:  9780451183347
Publisher: Signet, 1995
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9780785783695: Strike Zone

Bt Bound, 1999
Hardcover

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