Big League Sandlotters, by William R. Cox
Four out of five stars
This book is about the love of baseball at the lowest level, that of the sandlots, where people play hard for a mere five dollars per game. Decades ago, many of the small towns in Eastern Iowa had a “town team” that was part of a league with the surrounding towns. I can recall going through Center Point, Iowa during the day and seeing a “Baseball tonight” sign on Main Street. People played for love, pride and fun and some of the rivalries were pretty intense.
Al Waddell is a promising young player attending the spring training camp of his major league team. Always giving it is best, he severely injures his shoulder attempting to make a difficult, yet generally routine play. In order to work himself back to normal, he joins the sandlot team that his ex-major leaguer father runs.
Their primary rival is a team run by a local businessman that does not like to lose at anything. His son shares that attitude and some nefarious plots are hatched that increase their chances of winning. Waddell’s team is made up of young players with promise, but are still raw and prone to errors. The owner of the other team has deeper pockets and is willing to spend to get players past their prime but still capable of shining for short spurts.
In many ways this is a classic sports book in the standard good guys versus bad guys mold. The end is largely predictable, yet the story is told well enough to keep your interest. With a cycle of success and failure, the team and players persevere through adversity, which is a sound strategy for everyone, whatever their field of endeavor.