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The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2004


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 1, 2004
$26.29 $7.80

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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Cape Cod Baseball League, which began in the 19th century as local entertainment for summer residents, has evolved into the jewel of American amateur baseball. Sanctioned by the NCAA, the league invites the best college players to come to breezy seaside communities to work on their game during what amounts to their off-seasonâ€"late June through mid-Augustâ€"without sacrificing their amateur status. And come they do, to one of the 10 teams sponsored by small towns and New England businesses, staffed by volunteers, the players hosted by local families and given day jobs as clerks, seafood haulers and day-camp counselors. Collins, a former editor of Yankee magazine and once a Dartmouth second baseman with dreams of the big leagues, brings a local historian's eye and the heart of a fan to a chronicle of one Cape Cod League team, the Chatham A's, during the 2002 season. He has produced a book that will be a treat to casual fans who might not know the process by which college players are courted by agentsâ€"graded as to character, body type and bat speed, and then tagged with a price. Collins wisely focuses his story on a handful of the most promising Chatham players, most memorably Wake Forest's slugging third baseman Jamie D'Antona, an extremely likable nutcase, for whom readers will find themselves rooting hard. There is also the undersized Blake Hanan, the brainy Princeton righty Tom Pauly and the sphinxlike load of a pitcher, Tim Stauffer. Their crusty manager, John Schiffner, adds a little spice and tobacco juice to the mix. Along the way, readers will gain an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball, as it once was, in the heart of local communities.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The Cape Cod Baseball League is not well known except to New Englanders and professional baseball scouts (one of every six major-league players competes in it). The summer league, which attracts many of the best collegiate and amateur players from around the country, provides young players an opportunity to play in a competitive environment while functioning as adults in a community. The players typically room with local families, hold jobs with local businesses, and become part of the fabric of local life. Despite the small-town atmosphere, there can be a great deal at stake. Collins, former editor of Yankee magazine and a former college player with major-league dreams, understands the league, the game, and the odd dynamic that exists when teammates are vying for a ticket on the first leg of the journey to the major leagues. His profiles of the players, coaches, and local citizens who come together in the Cape Cod League offers a captivating, timeless brew of scuffed baseballs, white sand, and pristine dreams. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd Printing edition (April 1, 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 0738209015
  • ASIN: B00076F0ES
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,847,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Collins is a professional writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington, and Orange, New Hampshire. He is a former editor of Yankee magazine and an accomplished magazine writer whose articles have twice been noted in the annual Best American Sportswriting anthologies. He is married to writer Kristen Laine, whose book American Band won the 2007 PEN/New England award for nonfiction. and has two children: a daughter, Ursula, and a son, Virgil.

Customer Reviews

Thanks Mr. Collins for a terrific read.
MDE
An in-depth perspective to the best amatuer baseball league.
Jonathan Dobosz
I could not put this book down once I began reading it.
Gary J. Vanek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
An enjoyable work that captures the feel of the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Cape league remains popular due to its simplicity and reminder of earlier times. Despite showcasing the best NCAA baseball talent, the league's free admission and small time atmosphere make it a vital part of summer on Cape Cod. The author correctly focuses on a groups of players for the Chatham A's vice a play by play of every game. He tells stories of the big league hopes of a select group of players, from the son of a grocer who loves to fish, to the rich son of a corporate executive who is out to raise his own signing bonus. Despite being future stars/heroes most come off as average college guys, more into beer and girls than anything else.

While the players are interesting, the real story is the team itself and how its long time manager epitomizes everything about the league. He receives little pay, spends thousands of hours recruiting players, and builds his life managing a team in a short season league, that is a mere pit spot for future major leaguers. It was amazing how these young 19 year old children already have agents, personnel trainers, and specialist doctors, but with signing bonuses often in the millions, the smell of big money corporate baseball lies just below the surface of the simple hometown Cape Cod league.

The book reads well and weaves a good story. The author's access to the 2002 team and locals really capture the moment. Certain parts of the book wax sentimental and are a bit heavy on the symbology of baseball and its role in American culture, but most baseball books fall prey to this. The author's love for the game is obvious. I learned much about how young players are prepped for the major leagues. Any fan of good baseball writing will enjoy the book, especially those who have been lucky enough to grab a Cape League game.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wellen on January 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific book. It balances nicely between an inside look (and it is quite honest about the players and other characters, showing their true human qualities--it does not pretty them up) and an ode to the one of the last places where the true spirit of the game lives. I had long known of the league, but mostly through the reports of Peter Gammons and Baseball America. It was all numbers and thumb nail scouting reports. This book added layer after layer of humanity to these guys. It also captures quite beautifully the connection of the game and the mythical qualities and the small town virtues. It doesn't overdo it either. The touches are excellent. The narrative is a bit meandering at times, but that is ok, so is the game. A beautiful tribute to the men (mostly Pauly, D'Antona, and Stauffer) and a game that is timeless. Thank you Jim Collins.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I worked for several years in baseball operations for two Major League Baseball franchises, and to this day, one of my greatest experiences was spending three weeks scouting at the Cape Cod League. Jim Collins does an excellent job of portraying the league, its management, scouts, fans, coaches and players. He brings several angles to the book, showing that not all players get along, that there are "classes" of players, and that 20-year old boys will act like, well, boys. For the casual baseball fan, this is an excellent look at something other than the Major Leagues. For the die-hard fan, it is a must read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ED BAIRD on May 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate to have played 3 summers (1965-1967) for the Chatham A's of the Cape Cod Baseball League - An experience that far overshadows all of my other baseball accomplishments - I fell in love with the town & the league from the minute I first arrived.
But as the years have past, the memories have dimmed, until I read Jim Collin's book "The Last Best League"
I have to admit that I personally know many of the key characters, which alone would indicate that I should enjoy reading the story, but Jim's easy flow writing style invited me in and I didn't want to leave.
As bizarre as it may seem, as the story developed, I found myself totally absorbed as if I was actually there being a part of the scene. Whether it was in the dugout, at coach Schiffner's house discussing strategy or just walking around Chatham.
If you are a baseball fan this book is a must. It clearly takes the reader for a ride as the best college baseball players in the country begin to feel the pressure, as the competition mounts, and their dreams of playing major league baseball may either be achieved or shattered based on their summer's performance in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Thanks for the memories Jim - I enjoyed the ride
Ed Baird
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Dobosz on July 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Simply; the finest sports related book I've ever read, and one of the finest non-fiction books I've ever read. An in-depth perspective to the best amatuer baseball league. It is easy to not think of many of today's pro atheletes as real people with their own backgrounds. Their plastered on the screen, and we are only able to relate to them with the stats that they produce and the often poor behavior they exhibit. This book helps break those barriers by telling the story of many individuals on the Chatham A's, the most prolific of the Cape Cod League teams. All the players are interesting, but the most is the Head Coach. Extremely well written, I highly recommend it to anyone.
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