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Once Upon a Fastball Kindle Edition

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Length: 288 pages
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Seth Stein is a Harvard history professor whose grandfather, Papa Sol, disappeared two years earlier at Yankee Stadium, during Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship series. Left behind were a cryptic poem and a baseball, but Seth cannot figure out the meaning of either until he grips the ball. He is catapulted back in time, where he silently witnesses his grandfather at the New York Giants' Shot Heard 'Round the World game of 1951. The ball takes Seth on further trips to historic games as he tries to learn Papa Sol's present whereabouts. Sports novelist and nonfiction writer Mitchell (Match Made in Heaven) keeps the baseball action exciting and loaded with lore, but the two-hanky denouement is unconvincing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 704 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (April 22, 2009)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2009
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00276HAJE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Bob Mitchell was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of six nonfiction books, a collection of poems, and the bestselling novels Match Made in Heaven and Once Upon a Fastball (which have been translated into six languages, were under three film options, have been produced as two audiobooks and two e-books, and appear in a number of college and high school curricula). His third novel Everything on the Line, about tennis and life, has been released (May, 2013) as both an e-book and an audiobook. He has recently completed a novel, Masaccio's Gift, about the Italian Renaissance artist Masaccio, and is currently working on a collection of short stories titled A Slut Nixes Sex in Tulsa. He studied at Williams College and Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature. He has had careers as a French professor, a teaching tennis pro, and an advertising Creative Director and has lived in Paris, Brittany, Angers, Besançon, Marrakech, London, Montreal, Florence, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv. He resides in Carlsbad, California, with his wife, Susan Love (an artist).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I read what this book was about on the inside of the book cover I was very excited to read the book. The story is of a Harvard professor Seth Stein who was raised by his grandparents. His doting baseball loving Grandfather Papa Sol raised his grandson with the same ravenous passion for baseball that he had, built around the New York (then San Francisco) Giants and the Boston Red Sox. The author Bob Mitchell is a real life Harvard PhD and self-proclaimed sports nut. If you combine the information about the author listed on the book cover along with the author's acknowledgements at the end of the book, it makes it very hard to not immediately feel a kinship with the author if you're a baseball fanatic like I am. So, with that being said; it is very hard for me to give the level of rating that I do. But, I pride myself on giving integrity driven reviews. So in advance I counsel the prospective reader: "PLEASE DO NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER. (REVIEWER)"

The story starts off as if its target demographic is kids from twelve years of age on up. That doesn't mean an adult like myself couldn't enjoy it, as I recently read just such a book by Mike Lupica entitled "THE BIG FIELD" and loved it and gave it a FIVE-STAR rating. Lupica's book kept the same intellectual level all the way through the terrific tale. And herein lies the problem with this book. It starts off like a wonderful account of a young boy and his grandfather memorizing names and statistics of old baseball cards, memorizing all the players on their favorite teams, growing older together but always being connected by the lovable magical bond of baseball. Then all of a sudden Papa Sol just disappears with no word, no warning, and no clues.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Goggins on September 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Once Upon a Fastball is pegged as a baseball book, and for diehard fans of the game, it will not disappoint for its deep mining of the main characters' baseball interests. One reviewer, though, rightly points out there is an academic puzzle solving aspect to the book, a la the DaVinci Code.

But Dan Brown and W. P. Kinsella, our author is not.

The story didn't really flow. The dialogue was not believable, and the baseball trivia read like it was cut and pasted out of [...]. Really, do we need to know the players' numbers? In the final chapters, the author ties together the main character's personal struggles, with the search for his grandfather. While this was all too predictable, in the end it didn't leave much of an impact.

The worst part was, when it was obvious that the main character had solved the puzzle, the author doesn't let him realize it, until he has had the epiphany with the love interest. Someone supposedly so bright would have gotten it much faster than that.

Still, a breezy light read. Pick it up between innings, that should make for a pleasant evening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Jackson Jr. on August 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This is such a wonderful book on so many levels. It is a profoundly lovely story of family and love. It is a stimulating look at history as an intellectual persuit. It is an insightful look at the mystique that surruonds baseball - even if you dont subscribe to it. As someone who was 13 in 1951 to recapture some or the wackiness of the era was incredibly enjoyable. Thank you Bob Mitchell.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think you will need to be a baseball fan (or fanatic!) in order to really enjoy this book. The premise is fair enough, and has possibilities, but the story just gets SO bogged down with baseball trivia that it just made my eyes glaze over. After reading a couple of paragraphs of trivia (mostly names and numbers/statistics), I just started skimming over those paragraphs - they did not further the story at all - and there were LOTS of that type of paragraph throughout the book. I also found the 'voice' in which the story was written to be very odd. I'd characterize it as 'third person present tense', and it just did not go over well. The story is told from a narrator's perspective (not a character's perspective) and all the verbs describing action are in present tense. Thus, the entire book is filled with oddities such as "Seth is walking over to the door..." or "Kate says...". While not techinically incorrect (I suppose) this is far from being the norm, and it seems that past tense (or maybe passive tense) would flow more smoothly. "Seth walked over to the door..." or "Kate said..." just seems more appropriate.

The 'DaVinci Code' bits were pretty lame and very contrived. The main character's 'epiphanies' were pretty lame and contrived, too. Maybe if the author had not been so insistent on calling them 'epiphanies', it would have been better. That particular word should be reserved for something special, not just for that imaginary lightbulb flahing on over a character's head. Unlike several of the other reviewers, I didn't object to the ending, but the whole book seemed to be a vehicle for the author to show off his knowledge of baseball lore, statistics, and culture. If you like that stuff, go for it! Otherwise, I'd suggest giving this one a pass.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to love this book because I have become somewhat interested in baseball stories of late, but the way this story unfolds is too "predictable" and the ending really left me so unsatisfied. I give the author credit here for attempting to do some things that I think are unusual for these sort of books but feel as though it just does not work out.
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Check out Frank Nappi's Legend of Mickey Tussler
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May 30, 2008 by Johnny |  See all 2 posts
Mickey Tussler is a fantastic baseball novel
Funny. That's what everyone keeps saying. Try The End of Baseball as well. A friend of a friend just sent it to me. Good stuff
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