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Strike Zone
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a great story of a little-used pitcher who gets to start the biggest game of the year and a veteran umpire. The pitcher has two things working against him. He had made a comment at an off-season banquet that offended the umpire, who happens to be working behind the plate for this game. The umpire's best friend is in trouble with gamblers and has asked him to throw the game.

It's a well-written story, with the point-of-view alternating from chapter to chapter so we see what's going through the pitcher's mind in one chapter and then see the umpire's thoughts in the next one.

I've read quite a few baseball novels over the years and this is one of the best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like baseball? Read this book. There's nothing earth-shattering about the work, but it's certainly worth the price of admission. Sam and Ernie manage to have an astounding number of daydreams and flashbacks in 9 innings, and every one sneaks the reader a little further behind the scenes of the battle between the pitcher and the umpire. Think baseball is slow? This book helps point out that you're missing a lot of the subtle battles each player wages with himself and others between the pitches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the best book I have ever read. It had everything it had sex, scandals, action, suspense, comedy, and just kept making me want to read more. I think Jim Bouton and Eliot Asinof wrote a great baseball book. Even if you don't like baseball this is a great book
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on December 24, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yes, it's neat just to see a novel by Bouton.....and it's a good effort. The chapters are alternately from the points of view of the pitcher (a barely-fictionalized version of Bouton himself) and umpire. This fading veteran pitcher has been chosen to pitch the pennant-deciding game, and the umpire, a veteran about to retire, is trying to throw the game against him. If you're a baseball fan, and especially if you're a Bouton fan, you'll be carried along nicely.

Some of the players are given actual players' names, and one of the neat things is......well, I'm editing out some of what I originally had here, because it was sort of a "spoiler" and I guess some people didn't like that!! Let's just say that an "actual" player has a role in the outcome of the big game.

Recommended for baseball fans, and a must for Bouton fans.
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on August 11, 2010
Verified Purchase
This is one of the most well crafted baseball novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. If you're a baseball fan, you'll find the narrative captivating as you learn about the opposing lives of a pitcher trying to hang on to a career and an umpire trying to hang on to a conscience. Co-authored by former major league pitcher Jim Bouton and Eliot Asinof (author of 'Eight Men Out').

It's a quick read that will keep you interested from the first page. I'd recommend getting yourself lost in this book as soon as you can.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
Bouton and Asinof's "Strike Zone" is a surprisingly good book. I didn't think that a novel written in alternating chapters by two authors would even be readable, much less absorbing, but this book is both. The two parallel story-lines are simple but affecting: a journeyman pitcher's efforts in a crucial game and the plate umpire's moral dilemma about whether or not to define the strike zone in a way that will "throw" the game and thus allow an old friend to pay off a gambling debt. The action takes place in one 24-hour period, but with flashbacks effectively
worked in to fill out the two men's lives. Particularly when the action moves to the baseball diamond, the novel perfectly captures both the leisurely pace and rhythms and the terrific tensions of the game.
Anyone who's read "Ball Four" would know that the pitcher, Sam Ward, is closely based on Bouton himself--all the stuff about knuckleballs is a tip-off--and the stone wall building as therapy after a marital separation comes directly out of Bouton's own experience, as described in the Epilogue to "Ball Four." Sam Ward is Bouton in the same way that Father Blackie Riley is a kind of fantasy stand-in for Father Andrew Greeley in the latter's novels.
Maybe the most difficult thing to write in a novel is a good sex scene and Bouton succeeds with what seems like unpromising material: an anecdote about Ward relieving his pre-game tensions by masturbating in his hotel room before going to the ballpark to pitch. Bouton spares the reader any description of what Ward is actually doing; instead he recounts in rapid succession the series of vivid fantasies that pass through his character's mind, then ends with a humorous zinger that picks up a punch line from earlier in the story. The episode is very sexy (as well as romantic, since he's fantasizing about his estranged wife) and very funny--a rare combination that few writers could capture so successfully.
Not a great book, but a worthwhile read for baseball lovers. (I think the pitch-by-pitch description of the crucial game would drive non-fans out of their minds!)
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on January 3, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I had read this book and wanted it for my son for Christmas. Amazon was the only place I could find it. It came in good condition and I received it before Christmas. AND the price was very good.
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on November 17, 2014
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone really devoted to baseball. If you go to the game with your personal score sheet, you have to read this. It is really fascinating and you can't put it down.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Strike Zone" is a book that tells the story of a pitcher of the Chicago Cubs named Sam Ward. Sam is a middle-aged guy who has never pitched a major league game before. Sam gets the chance to pitch for one of the Cubs biggest games of the year. Sam and the umpire Ernie Kolacka tell the story; the chapters go on in detail about everything that is going on from their point of view.
The authors of this book really went into detail about everything, making the book more understandable. A bad thing about the detail is the it makes the book longer than it should have been, because the book takes place in a twenty-four hour period and there is so much detail it made it kind of drag on. "Strike Zone" is very well-written and things are written as if one could actually see them. The authors convey their purpose very well by telling every single detail, but once again a little too much detail can be bad.
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on March 26, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
All the comments are spot on--this is a great book. Really allows you to get inside the heads of two players.
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