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

4.6 out of 5 stars 110 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 (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Douglas A. Greenberg VINE VOICE on July 18, 2002
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 Verified Purchase
I'm a fool for time-travel novels of any stripe, whether it's Heinlein's The Door into Summer, Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man, or Richard Matheson's Bid Time Return, which you may have seen as the movie Somewhere In Time. I love to see how the author handles a protagonist's foreknowledge, and time paradoxes, and the time traveler's perceptions of another time.

And I also love baseball. (GO DBACKS!)

So when a friend told me about this older novel, I picked up a used copy. I'm glad I did, even though my feelings about the story are mixed. It has moments of absolute wonderfulness, but the storytelling sometimes seems as though the author painted himself into a corner and couldn't find a gracious way out. There are wet footprints through the plot, as a result. And the ending is unsettling.

However, the setup and the setting are outstanding. Our hero, Sam Fowler, is a San Francisco journalist who's coping badly with a divorce, and is called to Cincinnati to deal with his father's death. When his Amtrak has an unscheduled stop, Sam wanders away from the train... and into a fog. When he emerges, he's in 1869, with the members of the Cincinnati Red Stockings -- the first paid baseball team -- clambering onto their own train. With a bit of plot arm-waving (which is fine with me), Sam gets tied into the ball club's road trip... and into their lives.

If you're a baseball fan, it's probably worth the price of the novel just for the lesson in baseball history.
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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 Verified Purchase
This is a wonderfully entertaining and informative book! It is the best book I have read this year, and by far the best time-travel book I have read.

Sam Fowler, (the central character of this historical fiction novel) is a down and out divorcee from the mid-1980's, finds himself suddenly transported back to 1869, where he happens to board a train carrying the very first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Fowler is befriended by a player of the team, and soon becomes an integral part of the Red Stockings franchise. This is an absolutely fascinating account of how our national pastime began! It certainly helps to be a baseball fan when reading this book, in fact, this book is REQUIRED reading for any true baseball aficionado, but that aside, even non-baseball fans will enjoy Fowler's adventures in post-Civil War America. Fowler meets his idol, Mark Twain, in his journey, and his conversations and interactions with him are delightful. Fowler gradually becomes aware that his transportation back in time is perhaps more a result of fate rather than circumstance. He meets certain people who reveal that they had a premonition that they were to meet him. As all this slowly and delightfully unravels, Fowler finds his life in danger from a group of Irish thugs, while at the same time, he falls madly in love with the sister of his newfound best friend. This is a book that will entrance you and delight you from first page to last. Great summer reading and a great treatise on how the game of baseball was first played and the men who played it. Top-notch reading!

kone
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