From Publishers Weekly
Even those with only a passing interest in baseball will be intrigued by this fascinating look at Little League, "the largest amateur sports organization in the world." The book and its unsparing look at the harsh reality of youth sports just might pique the interest of parents whose kids play in the more than 8,000 officially sanctioned League teams. Utilizing extensive interviews with current and former players and coaches and a no-frills sports writing style that captures both the excitement and the nuances of the game, Euchner (Last Nine Innings
) follows teams ranging from Hawaii to Florida who competed in the 10-day 2005 Little League World Series. Throughout his exhaustive coverage, he rarely loses sight of the League's main problem, "the professionalism of childhood, the development of leagues and tournaments that turn sports into a fulltime job before a kid grows any facial hair." Euchner succeeds at presenting the impressive intensity of 12-year-old athletes while also showing the sad fact that young pitchers who could be Major League stars "never make it because they blow their arms out in Little League." (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In The Last Nine Innings
(2005), Euchner put major league baseball under an analytic microscope; here, he dissects Little League. The setting is the 2005 Little League World Series, which turned out to be a real nail-biter and one of the most exciting series the small town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has ever seen. Although Euchner admits that Little League has done good things for kids and baseball, his overarching argument here is that kids were better off with street pickup games than the overly organized, overly competitive world of formal Little League. Moreover, he contends that the sport has become too focused on adults: it's the adults who crave the championships, who push kids beyond their physical capabilities, who take the fun out of the game. He gives coaches (and parents) their due--the sacrifice of time and money, after all, is mighty--but he challenges us to consider what the world would be like if all that energy were put into more altruistic endeavors, such as rebuilding the Gulf coast. "Give the game back to the kids," Euchner pleads. Adults, take heed. Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved