Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review of "Crazy Legs McBain," by Joe Archibald

Review of 

Crazy Legs McBain, by Joe Archibald
Five out of five stars

This is my all-time favorite sports book, and considering that I have read over a thousand of them, that is saying something. Hal McBain is a shy, retiring college student at a small college. His father is a deceased police officer and his uncle is one of the wealthiest men in his hometown. He grew up knowing his place in society and was demeaned by his cousin, Lance McCabe. The past year, most of the members of the football team were killed in a plane crash and the outlook for the coming season is bleak. Hal rooms with two members of the team and they see his hunger to be somebody.

Hal is walking with a group of students when an errant football passes their way and Hal reaches out and grabs it. On another occasion, a kid is trapped on the side of a building and Hal and his friends race to grab a ladder to rescue him. Hal gets there first by a significant margin and the kid is saved. When he turns to his friends, they are incredulous. One of the people he outran to the ladder is a track star who owns the conference record in the 220-yard dash.

Hal is convinced to try out for football and is an immediate success. His incredible speed, ability to maneuver and his ability to catch the ball one-handed make him a star. Unfortunately, cousin Lance is a star for a conference rival and his father is funding Hal's education. The uncle cuts off Hal's money, forcing him to quit the team to get a job. Fortunately, one of his roommates finds a legal way for him to incorporate and stay on the team.

The climax is the game against Lance's team, the conference powerhouse, and Hal plays the game of his life, sacking Lance several times and leading his team to victory. In the end, Hal gives away the most valuable player trophy, making a statement concerning what he considers important.

While the main theme is a rags-to-riches story against very long odds, there are many other undercurrents in the book. There is implicit racism, the value of friendship and dedication, why you should never, ever give up, the value of friendship, getting even with those who wronged you and a realistic sense of one's worth. Despite his stardom, Hal never loses sight of himself, remaining true to his ideals. This is a wonderful and uplifting book.

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