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The Big Field Hardcover – March 4, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For Hutch, shortstop has always been home. It's where his father once played professionally, before injuries relegated him to watching games on TV instead of playing them. And it's where Hutch himself has always played and starred. Until now. The arrival of Darryl "D-Will" Williams, the top shortstop prospect from Florida since A-Rod, means Hutch is displaced, in more ways than one. Second base feels like second fiddle, and when he sees his father giving fielding tips to D-Will--the same father who can't be bothered to show up to watch his son play--Hutch feels betrayed. With the summer league championship on the line, just how far is Hutch willing to bend to be a good teammate?

Mike Lupica returns to the big field for the first time since his #1 New York Times bestseller Heat and delivers a feel-good home run, showing how love of the game is a language fathers and sons speak from the heart.

Q&A with Mike Lupica

Q: Where did the idea for The Big Field come from?

A: If it has one starting point, it was when Alex Rodriguez came to the Yankees and left shortstop to play third base. It wasn't so much that Rodriguez was the best all-around player in baseball at the time. It was that I knew he'd always thought of himself as a shortstop. I'm not sure he still doesn't think of himself as a shortstop. And suddenly he was a third baseman. Hutch isn't the best player in this book; Darryl Williams is. But Hutch had been a shortstop his whole life, it defined him as a ballplayer, and now because of the presence of Darryl on their American Legion team, he has to go to second base. It's the starting off point in a book that is ultimately about fathers and sons. But it's about a player having to leave his best position for the good of his team.

Q: In The Big Field, the emotional heart of the story is Keith "Hutch" Hutchinson's relationship with his father, a washed-up ballplayer and former boy phenomenon who never advanced past the minor leagues and who completely soured on the game, setting the stage for a distant relationship with his son. Why did you decide to focus on the father-son dynamic in this novel?

A: Sometimes with fathers and sons, when they can't communicate, they fall back on sports. It is like some universal language for fathers and sons. But at the start of The Big Field, Hutch and his dad don't even have that. And their journey, both of them, and I think it's a great journey, is finding that language again, finding a bond they never really lost. And finding each other.

Q: Can you offer any advice for aspiring sports writers?

A: Read the best guys, in books and newspapers and magazines. And then find ways to write. Write for the school paper, write anywhere you can, but write. I believe strongly that if you have the talent and the spirit, somebody will find you.

Q: When writing a young character do you find yourself looking back to yourself at that age? Or your children?

A: I look back to myself, and remember how important sports were to me, the fellowship, just the sheer fun of having a game with my buddies even if it wasn't organized. I tell people all the time that I still go to games thinking I might see something I've never seen before. I still have that feeling. But more than that, I see sports through the eyes of my children, too. See what they think is good, or cool, or worth watching. See what excites them. They've made me smarter about sports, they really have. But then that always happens when you hang around smart people.

Q: Have you started working on your next book? Can you give us a sneak peak?

A: My next book is already finished. It's about a young foster child, and his love for baseball. He's a catcher. And I think you're going to like him. The book is called "Safe at Home." The book I'm writing right now is my first soccer book. That's all I'm going to tell you!

Review

Lupica offers another heartwarming, action-packed, sports-savvy novel. -- School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 970L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399246258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399246258
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mike Lupica is one of the most prominent sports writers in America. His longevity at the top of his field is based on his experience and insider's knowledge, coupled with a provocative presentation that takes an uncompromising look at the tumultuous world of professional sports. Today he is a syndicated columnist for the New York Daily News, which includes his popular "Shooting from the Lip" column, which appears every Sunday. He began his newspaper career covering the New York Knicks for the New York Post at age 23. He became the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper with the New York Daily News, which he joined in 1977. For more than 30 years, Lupica has added magazines, novels, sports biographies, other non-fiction books on sports, as well as television to his professional resume. For the past fifteen years, he has been a TV anchor for ESPN's The Sports Reporters. He also hosted his own program, The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN2. In 1987, Lupica launched "The Sporting Life" column in Esquire magazine. He has published articles in other magazines, including Sport, World Tennis, Tennis, Golf Digest, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, ESPN: The Magazine, Men's Journal and Parade. He has received numerous honors, including the 2003 Jim Murray Award from the National Football Foundation. Mike Lupica co-wrote autobiographies with Reggie Jackson and Bill Parcells, collaborated with noted author and screenwriter, William Goldman on Wait Till Next Year, and wrote The Summer of '98, Mad as Hell: How Sports Got Away from the Fans and How We Get It Back and Shooting From the Lip, a collection of columns. In addition, he has written a number of novels, including Dead Air, Extra Credits, Limited Partner, Jump, Full Court Press, Red Zone, Too Far and national bestsellers Wild Pitch and Bump and Run. Dead Air was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Mystery and became a CBS television move, "Money, Power, Murder" to which Lupica contributed the teleplay. Over the years he has been a regular on the CBS Morning News, Good Morning America and The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour. On the radio, he has made frequent appearances on Imus in the Morning since the early 1980s. His previous young adult novels, Travel Team, Heat, Miracle on 49th Street, and the summer hit for 2007, Summer Ball, have shot up the New York Times bestseller list. Lupica is also what he describes as a "serial Little League coach," a youth basketball coach, and a soccer coach for his four children, three sons and a daughter. He and his family live in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

Hutch is joined in his quest by Codey, his best friend and affable sidekick.
KidsReads
The fact that everything works out to the good despite the blips is also somewhat unrealistic, but hey, this is fiction.
Teen Reads
The Big Field is a great book for baseball fans, fathers, sons, and anyone that just loves a good game.
P. Vance

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Keith "Hutch" Hutchinson is a 14 year old boy who lives in Florida, but you'd be more accurate to say he lives in a world of baseball. Hutch eats, sleeps, drinks and plays baseball. And he prides himself on being "OLD-SCHOOL"! Nowadays kids wear two batting gloves at a time, Hutch doesn't wear any, and he also wears his red stirrup socks high, all strictly "OLD-SCHOOL". Other kids perform dances that would shame Terrell Owens after a good play or big hit. When Hutch hits a homerun he quickly runs around the bases so as not to embarrass the other team. Hutch is definitely "OLD-SCHOOL"! "Hutch knew he loved baseball more than anybody he knew, on his current team, or any team he'd ever played on, loved the history of it, loved the stats and the numbers and the way they connected the old days to right now." (NOTE: Take Hutch's name out and put my name in when I was 14 and you wouldn't have to change a word!") This story is built around the Boynton Beach Post 226 Cardinals American Legion Team and their quest for the opportunity to play for the state championship, which would enable them to play on "THE-BIG-FIELD" at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, where the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins play their spring training games.

There are a number of sub-plots in this wonderfully written homage to young American boys whose dreams of playing baseball invade every thought they possess. I know how accurate the author's descriptions are since my entire childhood through adulthood was filled with these very same dreams.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Green VINE VOICE on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fourteen-year-old Keith "Hutch" Hutchinson loves baseball, and he loves being the shortstop, the guy in the middle of all the action. Unfortunately, he's been moved to second base to make room for Darryl Williams, a kid with tons of talent but not the best attitude. But Hutch is still the team captain and he takes baseball seriously. He's a good team player, he works hard and doesn't show off, even when he hits a home run. His dream is to attend a private baseball school up north and make it to the major leagues. His father was a star player in his day as well, but he missed his chance and doesn't offer Hutch any encouragement, not wanting his son to put all his hopes in one long-shot basket. It bothers Hutch that his father isn't more involved with him, but it's too much when he shows up early for practice one day and finds his father coaching and giving pointers to Darryl.

My son who loves baseball and I read this together. Even though Hutch's passion for baseball is obsessive, there was plenty to relate to here. My hope was that it would give my son an idea of how a baseball player should *think* on the field, but while the story is heavy on jargon it's a bit light on fundamentals. It's also pretty long (or at least *felt* that way) and not always the most interesting read. The conflicts with his father and with Darryl offered some fairly interesting plots, and some of the scenes during games were quite exciting and dramatic, but overall it felt kind of formulaic and like it just wasn't a very substantial story. We both liked it, but it wasn't real high on our list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mike Lupica, the veteran sports columnist for the Daily News in New York, is not content to rest on his laurels. In addition to his adult audience, he's reaching out to younger readers, trying to teach them lessons on the field that can be extended to everyday life. His previous works in the genre include HEAT, TRAVEL TEAM, SUMMER BALL and MIRACLE ON 49th STREET.

His latest offering is THE BIG FIELD, the story of Hutch Hutchinson, a star shortstop for his American Legion team who is displaced by Darryl "D-Will" Williams, a better player with a questionable attitude.

Despite the natural misgivings, Hutch is willing to take one for the team, giving way to Darryl and moving over to second base. The parallel to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez is unmistakable. So is the tense relationship as the two 14-year-olds vie for dominance. Darryl has his mind set on being the "next big thing," already attracting the notice of scouts and the media. Hutch, on the other hand, is content to live in the here-and-now, with the sole goal of playing for the regional championship at the minor league venue of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hutch is joined in his quest by Codey, his best friend and affable sidekick. It's not too far a stretch to think of the trio as a less dangerous version of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy, with bats replacing magic wands.

As the team moves through the rounds of competition to put them in the big game on The Big Field, Hutch must deal with several issues: his continuing resentment of his rival, his perhaps over-consuming love of baseball, and his relationship with his father, himself a heralded player who still has trouble dealing with his failure to make it to the major leagues.
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