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One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season Hardcover – May 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140132438X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401324384
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"One Shot at Forever is tender, fun, bittersweet, with a great narrative that just motors. It also features the funkiest coach not just in the history of baseball but the history of sport--an unforgettable character in a beautiful and unforgettable book."
--Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day and Friday Night Lights

"One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational and--in an era where sports are too often marred by scandal--as pure and true as a warm spring breeze. This isn't merely a book about baseball. It's a book about heart."
--Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys Won

"Once upon a time, stories like One Shot at Forever were called fairy tales. It is a charming work and so well told by Chris Ballard that it gives sportswriting a good name."
--Frank Deford, author of Over Time: My Life As A Sportswriter

"[A] nonfiction gem about an underdog team that made good. This is the kind of baseball book that has long arms: YA readers, avid baseball fans, sports readers, and narrative nonfiction readers who like to be firmly set in a particular time and place should all find it joyful."
--Library Journal

"Chris Ballard brings a big heart and a winning style to tell a memorable story of small-town Illinois. The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters--and sometimes, why it matters too much."
--Cait Murphy, author of Crazy '08

"One Shot at Forever is tender, fun, bittersweet, with a great narrative that just motors. It also features the funkiest coach not just in the history of baseball but the history of sport-an unforgettable character in a beautiful and unforgettable book."—Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day and Friday Night Lights

"There's a reason Chris Ballard has emerged as one of America's top sports writers. One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational and-in an era where sports are too often marred by scandal-as pure and true as a warm spring breeze. This isn't merely a book about baseball. It's a book about heart."—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won

"This book is so well told by Chris Ballard that it gives sportswriting a good name."—Frank Deford, author of Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter

"Chris Ballard brings a big heart and a winning style to tell a memorable story of small-town Illinois. The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters--and sometimes, why it matters too much."—Cait Murphy, author of Crazy '08

"[A] nonfiction gem about an underdog team that made good. This is the kind of baseball book that has long arms: YA readers, avid baseball fans, sports readers, and narrative nonfiction readers who like to be firmly set in a particular time and place should all find it joyful."—Library Journal

"Chris Ballard finds the heart in the heartland, in this inspirational tale of a small-school ball club that reaches for glory."—Edward Achorn, author of Fifty-nine in '84

"This story has obvious parallels to the classic basketball film Hoosiers and in Ballard's capable hands evokes similar themes of inspiration, camaraderie and the pressure of the once-in-a-lifetime moments associated with prep athletics . Ballard effortlessly captures the conflict between Eisenhower era beliefs and the changing cultural landscape in Vietnam-era America . [He] holds the story of the team together with his conversational prose and boosts the story's poignancy with a touching conclusion that demonstrates the importance of high school sports and hometown heroes."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he specializes in narrative longform stories. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his work has twice been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing series. Ballard is the author of four books: "Hoops Nation", "The Butterfly Hunter", "The Art of a Beautiful Game" and the forthcoming "One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach and a Magical Baseball Season".

Ballard joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in September 2000. He has covered the NBA and MLB, written nearly 20 cover stories, penned the back page "Point After" column and written features on everything from pigeon racing to Jake Plummer's post-football life to the Vancouver riots. He is one of five 2012 finalists for a National Magazine Award in profile writing, is a past recipient of a National Headliner Award and was the 2011 winner of The Joanie Award for a story about Cal Berkeley coxswain Jill Costello, who died of lung cancer after her senior year. His 2010 story titled "Magical Season of the Macon Ironmen," which was included in the "Notables" section of the Best American Sports Writing anthology, provided the inspiration for his latest book.

Before joining SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Ballard was an intern at the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ. He has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. Ballard has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, ABC News with Dick Schaap, and Outside the Lines, and speaks regularly to groups of journalism students. A native Californian, Ballard graduated from Pomona College, where he played basketball and was on the track and field team. He lives in Berkeley with his wife Alexandra and two daughters, Callie and Eliza.

To read a collection of Ballard's best feature stories, go to: byliner.com/chris-ballard

More About the Author

Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he specializes in narrative longform stories. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing and The Best American Sports Writing series (three times). Ballard is the author of four books: "Hoops Nation", "The Butterfly Hunter", "The Art of a Beautiful Game" and "One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach and a Magical Baseball Season," which won an Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Ballard joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in September 2000. He has covered the NBA and MLB, written more than a dozen cover stories, penned the back page "Point After" column and written features on everything from pigeon racing to Jake Plummer's post-football life to the Vancouver riots. He was one of five 2012 finalists for a National Magazine Award in profile writing, is a past recipient of a National Headliner Award and was the 2011 winner of The Joanie Award for a story about Cal Berkeley coxswain Jill Costello, who died of lung cancer after her senior year. His 2010 story titled "The Magical Season of the Macon Ironmen provided the inspiration for his latest book. Four of his stories have been optioned for feature films, including "One Shot," which is currently in development by Legendary Pictures.

Before joining SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Ballard was an intern at the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ and attended Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Ballard has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, ABC News with Dick Schaap, and Outside the Lines, among others, and speaks regularly to groups of journalism students. A native Californian, Ballard graduated from Pomona College, where he played basketball, was on the track and field team and drank lots of cheap beer. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two daughters.

To read a collection of Ballard's best feature stories, go to: http://byliner.com/chris-ballard

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A very well written narrative and a great story.
Don H
This is well written book about a small town high school baseball team and their endeavor to win a State Championship with a coach who knew how to motivate youngsters.
Arnold Heflin
Would highly recommend anyone who loves high school athletics as I do, to read this book.
sdben

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Padrepat on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Everybody loves an underdog story. Chris Ballard's One Shot at Forever provides all of the nail-biting excitement characteristic of the David and Goliath tales of the sports world. I am sure that many will make comparisons to Hoosiers -- with its local color (Hickory - Macon, IL), star athlete (Jimmy Chitwood - Steve Shartzer), and controversial coach (Norman Dale - Lynn Sweet) -- and justifiably so. But One Shot at Forever is so much more.

This book transcends the sports genre. It is a character-driven page turner that will appeal to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. It offers a layered and nuanced portrait of Coach Lynn Sweet, the unforgettable protagonist whose unconventional approaches will captivate most readers just as the Robin Williams character did in Dead Poet's Society. And it pays careful attention to temporal characteristics and weaves them into the story in subtle fashion, much like Matthew Weiner does in Mad Men. Readers will feel transported to the early 1970s whether they lived through the era or not and will have a hard time not feeling nostalgic, as if they were part of Macon Ironmen themselves.

Ballard is a gifted writer who draws on his superior reporting and keen attention to detail to paint an intricate picture of a group of boys--bound together by America's game--coming of age against a small town, Vietnam era backdrop.

I couldn't put it down.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Greenstone on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Best book I've read this year. As Ballard is a writer at SI I was hardly surprised that this is a fantastic baseball story. But I was delighted to discover that the book delivers so much more. The main character, a teacher and coach named Lynn Sweet, is as remarkable a character as I can recall. He's a sensitive, courageous, free thinker, who finds himself plunked down in a time and place where conformity is the rule. As a high school teacher, I found myself inspired by Sweet's story. And the book is also the portrait of a small town seeking an identity through the exploits of its baseball team. Ballard's exquisite reporting not only preserves that identity for the town of Macon, but he also allows the rest of us to savor the folkways of a (recently) bygone era.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Zehr on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read much of Ballard's work in Sports Illustrated over the past decade, and I got an early look at his latest book, One Shot at Forever. One Shot is a book-length example of his emergence as one of the top long-form narrative writers going today. (For proof, Google his stories about Jill Costello or Mike Powell, or his National Magazine Award finalist piece about Dewayne Dedmon.)

At the highest level, the story runs much like Hoosiers, with a small-town Illinois baseball team going on an unlikely run against larger schools. But the real power of the book comes from the interplay of a small town stuck in the 1950s, an outsider coach straight out of the hippie-ville 1960s, a bunch of kids coming of age in the early 1970s, and the memories still seared in their minds as adults today.

Those memories are the real payoff of what's already an engaging story. The narrative is engaging on its own, but the way the games of their youth still stick in the psyche of many of the players, who now are in their 50s and 60s, goes right to what we cherish about high school sports -- whether we played them, coached them, or just cheered on our hometown heroes.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steve Briggs on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Ballard has created a book that is so much more than a sports story. It's a story about the town where I coached and taught for 33 years and the people who played, worked, and lived there. I began my teaching career in 1972, the year after the Ironmen had gone to state and I've met many of the players and heard all of the stories about their dramatic run to the finals. Ballard has recreated a wonderful time for this community that changed the lives of these young men and showcases the great leadership talents of their coach L.C. Sweet. For over 30 years he touched the lives of countless students in the classroom as well as the athletic field in a positive way. What an achievement, and what a book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Curt Martin Mavis on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the article when it came out about a year ago, and couldn't wait to get my hands on the book. Ended up devouring it in one sitting (and stayed up way too late!). Several scenes in the book had me laughing and/or crying. Long live Lynn Sweet!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BSG on May 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I finished this book in two days - it was impossible to put down. I'm an Australian who knows very little about baseball, but I still found this to be a really good read. The book covers so much more than the story of a baseball season.

Chris Ballard does a terrific job of making the reader feel like they've been transported to Macon in the early 1970's. The characters - especially coach Lynn Sweet - provide an engaging storyline that really give an insight into the social changes going on in that era.

This is not a game-by-game review of the baseball season - this is a book that shows how a small town can be defined by the exploits of a few, and how one person can have such an influence on those he guides.

There's no question this is worth five stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brownie on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, One shot at Forever is a wonderful story. It is a story of courage, leadership, loyalty and a magical chemistry of a team and coach and their unbelievable climb to success and fame.

It is a baseball story and in some ways it reminded me of Money Ball.

I loved Money Ball and how Michael Lewis was true to Billy Beane's character and the story of how he single handedly changed professional Baseball.

Chris Ballard, in One Shot at Forever, is as true to this wonderful story and characters as Lewis;
And his characters are all so lovable.

I also think that One Shot, for so many reasons, is an important read for all of us.
It is a great, great American story in a tough time in American history.

Thank you Chris for doing such a thorough job in the research and at the same time turning this into an exciting and inspirational story to read.

If parents and coaches could only read One Shot at Forever and follow Lynn Sweet's main values:
Have fun, don't take it too seriously and facilitate the chemistry and whatever else it takes to give your kids an unconditional confidence that is so strong that it takes them far beyond what any person in their right mind could have predicted.

Sweet claims throughout the book and his life that he did not know how to coach and that he did not do anything but the kids did it all.
It reminded me of another wise man by the name of Socrates who claimed he did not know anything....

I read One Shot in one night.

I cried more than once.

Bravo, bravo, bravo!
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