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If I Never Get Back: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This highly entertaining, inherently cinematic debut blends two genres, the baseball story and the time-travel fantasy, that have been more at home on screen than on the page. The author wastes no time in establishing (or explaining) his premise; mere pages into the first chapter, Sam Fowler, a discontented journalist whose family life has disintegrated, steps off Amtrak and into 1869. Before he can get his bearings, he's a member of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, witnessing baseball in its infancy with an unbeatable team. Brock steeps his story in period detail, from the smell of kerosene in a railroad car to a daring "leg show" in old New York, and devotes long passages to early baseball lore, with play-by-play descriptions that will test the patience of non-fans. As well, he doesn't stint on the anachronistic details that always spark this kind of story: along the way, his hero invents ballpark hotdogs, the scoreboard, "Red River Valley" and the bunt. Throw in a century-spanning romance, nefarious gamblers and a cameo by Mark Twain, and the result is a winning fable about dreaming away reality that is both hokey and irresistible. 50,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A rawhide odyssey … meticulously historical.… By now the reader is asking ‘And then? And then?’ like a child listening to a storyteller.”—Time “Grabs you from line one on page one and never lets go. Enchanting.” —San Francisco Chronicle “An engrossing, even charming tale.… By its final inning, the reader is sad to see it end.” —The New York Times Book Review“A grand adventure and joyful embrace of baseball the way it ought to be played … If I Never Get Back should be required reading for players and owners as well as fans.”—The Washington Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583941878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583941874
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Darryl Brock has hit a home run with this well-crafted time-travel novel that revisits the early years of baseball in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Brock is transported from contemporary San Francisco to 1869, where he encounters the first great professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. The resulting story is engrossing and is chock full of information and lore concerning the early years of our national pastime. As a bonus, Brock writes perceptively about social and cultural customs and attitudes from this earlier time, and this renders *If I Never Get Back* more than just another baseball yarn. The romantic aspect of the story borders on the corny at times, but within the context of the overall novel a bit of schmaltz is certainly forgivable. All baseball fans with an interest both in good reading and the history of the game will enjoy this book.
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By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My baseball loving wife bought me this book and for years it sat on my shelf. Finally I picked it up and was enamored with it. It rekindled my love of old time baseball. I thoroughly enjoyed the depiction of George & Harry Wright along with the rest of the original Cinc. Reds. I also loved the plot line about Mark Twain and the Fenians. A few years after I read the book I visited Cooperstown and on the top floor was the very same picture of the Reds that was on the cover of the book. I had to then reread the book and enjoyed just as much. I wish brock would write another.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Is this science fiction? It is science fiction in that If I Never Get Back is a time travel book like you have never read before. This book takes Sam Fowler from modern San Francisco back to the early days of baseball (post-Civil War) and the newly formed Cincinnati Red Stockings. What makes this book so interesting is the description of how baseball was played in 1869 - so different than what it is today even as to the way pitchers pitched.
Sam Fowler begins riding the rails with the fledgling Cincinnati Red Stockings and their trip around the U.S. to play other early baseball teams. It also goes into the atmosphere of the time, as in the description when the team played in New York City in a park that now is no more in these modern times.
Ah, but then it is also a love story. But is it unrequited love? Is it a lost love? And does Sam ever find her again?
Great baseball book and would make a great movie also.
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Format: Paperback
Baseball addicts, casual sports fans and non-sports fans alike will enjoy reading this highly entertaining work by author Darryl Brock. This has to be one of the best fictional sports books ever. It certainly is my favorite and one which I've enjoyed re-reading during spring training. The variant backdrops - time displacement, political conspiracy, historical characters, love affairs and, oh yes, baseball - will keep every reader totally engaged.

The basic story begins when protagonist Sam Fowler steps off a modern day Amtrak train and finds himself transported back into 1869 where he becomes involved with, amongst many other things, the legendary Cincinnati Red Stockings. But in this era baseball is in its infancy. The game, the rules and the players are not the same as today. Just how Fowler manages to cleverly integrate the modern game with its colorful past is but one of the many intriguing storylines in this wonderful novel. Throw in a couple of gamblers, treasonous villains and romantic love interests and you pretty much have something for everyone.

"If I Never Get Back" is a captivating fast-paced book that shouldn't disappoint any avid reader. It's no fluke that the vast majority of Amazon.com reviewers give it their 5-star rating. Highly recommended for a great summer read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book when it first came out, in part because I am a huge baseball fan, love history, and love books about time travel, but also because Mr. Brock was at the time a history teacher at my high school. I did not have the pleasure of being in his class but his students always raved about his teaching and loved being in his classes. When I read the book, I wished very much he'd been my teacher too. I am delighted to see he has authored some other books. I can't wait to read them! I will, after I replace the copy of "If I Never Get Back" I bought, loaned, and never got returned. A great book to get lost in! I didn't want it to end.
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By A Customer on January 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read this classic book four times, the only novel I've read more than once. Brock combines a fascinating account of baseball's infancy, a close-up look at special friendship and love, and a touch of adventure. The result is a remarkable book that is impossible to put down. Baseball has such a rich history, but most people know nothing about the game that existed prior to Babe Ruth. The fact is, however, that Brock used the history lesson on baseball simply as an avenue to tell the tale of Sam Fowler's discovery of himself. Mr. Brock, if you're out there, I would love to see this book reprinted. My copy is showing it's age.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up at my Mom's yard sale, and had a hard time putting it down. I've been to a few baseball games, so I can visualize the game, but I'm not a fan by any means. Still, I enjoyed the protagonist; he is a rough and tumble guy--very masculine, and it was fun inhabiting a man's world for a while. I mostly skipped over the details of the ball games, but enjoyed the glimpse of 19th century life. I was convinced he was there, I was even persuaded that Mark Twain would have talked and acted as he was described. I think the author did his homework. Very enjoyable and highly entertaining.
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