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Six Good Innings: How One Small Town Became a Little League Giant Hardcover – July 1, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Toms River, New Jersey, has a history in Little League baseball, winning the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1998. In 2006, its team advanced farther in the competition than any team had in recent years, and—with most of the key players returning—expectations for 2007 were very high. Anything less than a trip to Williamsport would be disappointing. Kreidler, a regular contributor to ESPN and the author of the extraordinary Four Days to Glory (2006), returns with another in-depth examination of an off-the-beaten-path sports story. With virtually unlimited access to the team’s coaches, players, and parents, Kreidler follows the season-long quest for Little League immortality. In an era when too many Little League stories are about parental misbehavior, the most compelling angle to emerge here is the remarkably selfless dedication of everyone involved, from coach to players to parents. This is the story of a community effort to build a champion, and it is a genuine feel-good saga, a fascinating, warm, and decidedly entertaining look inside one branch of youth sports. --Wes Lukowsky

Review

“A quick and enthralling read.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Unflinching...Meticulously researched and earnestly reported to a fault.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006147357X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061473579
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,615,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
SIX GOOD INNINGS tells the tale and pretty much carries the flavor of how a small town little league team begins to learn and appreciate their game. Nicely constructed prose from author Kreidler, himself an ESPN guy shows that he knows the feel of a good bat, belting one perfectly on that sweet spot and the resonating sound of getting it right.

Toms River would produce a great group of kids who learn about winning and losing... and winning and losing all over again. The transition from youthful innocence to a wiser bunch of lads who learn how to keep going on is a compelling read, and so perfectly American that it deserves kudos and your time.

The bottom line is I loved it and couldn't put it down for too long. Let it break your heart a little because it certainly will. This is little league with clarity and soul.

Mark Braun
Executive Director
Old Timers' Baseball Association of Chicago
Since 1919
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am impressed with Six Good Innings, having spent time in Toms River and seeing the environment, it is amazing the work that goes into developing the next best Little League team. The timing of this book coming out at the beginnning of the Little League WS is great too. You hear about these young people putting in long hours to become the best in their age group, in their town. Some have historically gone on to the pros. Is this hard work any different than what goes into being a Child Prodigy in Piano or Violin? Great work and encouraging. Worth it for those who want to see their kids get involved in sports.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a native of the Jersey Shore now living in a Massachusetts town that recently sent a team to Williamsport, I was doubly interested in this book...but anyone with an interest in baseball should find Mark Kreidler's account worthwhile. My only criticism is that I was hoping for a bit more narrative along with the history. NJ has always lived in the shadow of NY, and you can only imagine how the media attention was welcome to Toms River, something to celebrate and bask in.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Should the little leaguers playing ball in your neighborhood playground show up on ESPN some sunny afternoon representing your town and country in the championship title, it would be a rare cause for celebration. To advance to the Little League World Series is a sports fantasy come true that very few of the two million little leaguers across the globe have realized. The seemingly indiscriminate small town of Toms River, New Jersey, incredibly managed to make three appearances in five years at the Series, winning the title over Japan in 1998. Residents of Toms River explain their knack for spawning baseball talent by joking, "it's in the water".

Author and ESPN contributor Mark Kreidler chronicles Toms River's astouding days of glory and subsequent attempts to retrieve the championship title in, "Six Good Innings", a book which owes more to the statistical drama of a scoreboard that it does to a warm field of dreams. With a sportswriter's eye for the game and it's psychological detail, Kreidler offers an illustrious play-by-play account of a small suburban town, its young players, dedicated coaches, and spectator parents, all caught up in the joy and frenzy of Little League, from the hot dogs on the grill small town atmosphere of a baseball game in the park, to the unflinching and reserved awareness of stressed players, dreams shattered, over eager coaches and parents, and corporate interest lurking for a winning team. Upon leaving to play the World Series game in 1995, the Toms River team received an offer from Regis Philbin to appear on his program. Upon return, with a failed attempt at the title, the team was greeted with a note from Philbin: "maybe next year boys".
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As the father of a Little Leaguer, I was able to connect easily with the stories and emotions portrayed in this book. It is a very quick read, as Kreidel captures the drama, the joys and failures of Little League players, families and communities, as they sometimes carry on their shoulders the weight of becoming the ultimate champions of America's pasttime at the Little League level.

Kreidel documents the 2007 Little League season for one of the Toms River All Star teams, a community that got on the map due to the improbable appearence of one of its Little League teams 3 out of 5 years in the 1990's, inclduing a Little League World Championship over perennial champion Japan. This victory came with its blessings and curses, both of which are dealt with in engaging form by Kriegel: the accolades, fame and influx of resources; the pressure to repeat that has been laid upon the shoulders of each Little League generation to come.

Kreidel covers the story mostly from the perspective of the team's coach, and includes substantial insights, introspection and commentary from the kids as well. A highly recommended insider's view on the heart and soul of a community that bulds its dreams on the baseball diamond.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kreidler takes a season-long look at a fascinating subject. He focuses on one team for one playoff season as they push to make the little league world series. These boys of little league are so young (12 and 13) but so determined to make it that they give more to training than most adults give to their full-time jobs. Kreidler does a great job of giving a balanced look at the situation, largely reserving judgment for the readers.

The book raises a number of great issues: Why are youth sports so competitive? Why do we push kids to achieve such specialization so early? Is it worth the potential cost in both injury and lost youth to have kids push this hard?

Overall, the book itself is written very well. It was entertaining enough that I read it within 24 hours of starting it. I was kind of annoyed by the numerous digressions and side stories (I wanted to find out what happened to the team!) but overall the book was very good and recommended to all baseball fans.
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