No, I am not writing about Monty Python, though I think the local Civic Theatre is going to stage Spamalot this year. Instead, I am writing about baseball. Yes, when the wind-chill hits single digits or colder, you should think about the summer game and remember that pitchers and catchers report next month.
I am about halfway through Chris Ballard’s book One Shot at Forever, a book about the Macon Ironmen’s unlikely run at an Illinois state baseball championship and the team’s unlikely coach, L.C. Sweet, an unconventional English teach at Macon High. My wife brought the book home from the library, and we’re both reading it.
The book is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Richard M. Nixon is president and the United States is bogged down in Vietnam. Most of the players in the book are about five or six years older than me. One of the players realizes he needs to enjoy his senior year in high school as much as possible. He’s 18. I am too young to have had to worry about being drafted to go to Vietnam, and I am too old to have had to sign up for Selective Service when it was reinstated (though the draft never was) in the early 1980s. But I am sure that if I was 18 and living in rural Illinois or rural Indiana in 1971, I would have been worried about being drafted and sent to Southeast Asia. I have not gotten to the end of the book, so I don’t know if any of the boys on the Macon baseball team were sent to Vietnam or not. But that is sort of a backdrop to the 1971 season.
The book has great conflict, and not just on the diamond. There is the conflict between Coach Sweet and a school administration that doesn’t know what to make of him.
I highly recommend One Shot at Forever. If you ever saw the film Hoosiers, and didn’t think it was too far-fetched, I think you’ll like this book. In fact, I think I’ll go pick it up and see what happens next.