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


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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: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

This story is well written, the characters are real, and the setting is extremely interesting.
David Savage
The author did a magnificent job of researching his subject and all the other historical events that he interweaves in his story.
Carol Boston
All baseball fans with an interest both in good reading and the history of the game will enjoy this book.
Douglas A. Greenberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful 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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ramona Honan on March 27, 2002
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The story was tremendously appealing. Sam Fowler, a washed up reporter drinking his life away suddenly finds himself making a Twilight Zone-like leap into post Civil War America with the first professional baseball team, The Cincinnati Red Legs. Joining the team as a substitute player and assistant, he begins a roller coaster ride involving political scandal, organized crime and even a get rich scheme with Mark Twain! There's something for everybody in this novel and you'll find yourself unable to put it down. Every bit as good as Field of Dreams or The Natural.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By RFiche on September 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Internet has made us a nation a amateur and amateurish reviewers so consider this, like all others in this skein, just another layman's opinion.

This book is a mix of upsides and downsides. The backdrop of baseball's early roots is inventive. The stories around the games are entertaining, although the newness wears off quickly. Baseball is the not the subject of this book, only its background.

This is really a time travel book where the main character dabbles in gambling, grave-robbing, gold speculation, the nascent Irish Reublican Army and of course, love. A tour de force of 19th-century pop culture. Several of the protagonsist's daliances are enlightening. So is his feverish attempt at profiteering by applying 20th merchanidising techniques to baseball.

The book's weakness is its choopy writing. There are paragraphs scattered throughout that seem like drug-trips, demanding several re-reads to conclude they should have been edited out. A few characters are developed to the point of madness, while others are ignored.The book could have ended many ways, but concludes flatly. I desired no sequel and certainly no movie version.

Where the book suprised me was its unwillingness to touch on post-Civil War race relations or the divisions between the North and the South. We get instead a contrived valentine to Mark Twain.

As entertaining reading, the book succeeds and a love of baseball is hardly required.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laserbeam on October 21, 2002
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "ken345" 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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