Showing posts with label Chris Ballard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chris Ballard. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2022

One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard

 A baseball book review. 

Baseball player at bat

This is the story of a magical baseball season with an unlikely coach in a small town in Illinois.  


One Shot at Forever Book Cover
The year is 1971. The town is Macon, Illinois, a very small rural farm community in central Illinois. The team is a rag-tag high school baseball team in a school population that is so small that the boys have to play every sport in order to have enough players to make a team (football, basketball, baseball). The unlikely coach of the baseball team is the school's English teacher with no coaching expertise. 

This is a charming true story of a small-town baseball team, playing in hand-me-down uniforms, who emerged from a field of 370 teams to make an improbable run to the State Final.  

The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters.

Lynn Sweet arrives in Macon in 1966.  He's a long-haired hippie, a dreamer and an intellectual who brings progressive ideas to a town stuck in the 1950s. The son of a hard-driving Army Sergeant, Sweet is the opposite; fond of bucking convention and convinced the world is full of good people who occasionally have bad ideas. The students love him; the administration not so much! 

Call me 'Sweet' he tells his students on the first day of school. This in a school who wants and expects proper behavior, such as calling their teachers by Mr. & Ms/Mrs. His classroom has four round tables instead of desks. There are posters on the walls and rows of bookshelves. The bookshelves have novels and short stories unlike any before seen in Macon. There are also magazines and comic books.  But there are no grammar textbooks. Sweet teaches with unconventional assignments and tells the students “Have fun with it.”


Image of a baseball team

When Sweet takes over the baseball team (because no one else wants the job) he becomes intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by coach's unconventional methods, the undersized Macon Ironmen embark on a postseason run that amazed everyone, infuriated rival coaches, and buoyed a little town that was suffering from a damaging drought and the shadow of the Vietnam War ~ a town in desperate need of something to celebrate. They became the smallest school in Illinois history to appear in the championship game, and that distinction still stands. The experience would change the lives of this high school baseball team forever. 

Author Chris Ballard

Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated where he specializes in the narrative. One Shot at Forever is delightfully written in a gripping narrative as it tells the story of the members of that special 1971 team, and its coach. A true story well worth reading. 

One Shot at Forever book cover

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*One Shot at Forever Book Review written by 

~Wednesday Elf, the Baseball Contributor on Review This Reviews

Book available on Amazon

*Image sources: Pixabay

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