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The Might Have Been: A Novel Hardcover – March 20, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345530268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345530264
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Might Have Been

 “The effort to sustain the tradition of the great American baseball novel receives an honorable boost with this meticulously peopled tale of opportunities lost.”The New York Times Book Review
“Eventually, all of us have to grapple our might-have-beens.  This is the moving story of a man whose chance for baseball stardom ended in a split-second accident, and it resonates far beyond the baseball field.”Reader’s Digest
“A brilliant debut…a lovely, poignant, heartbreaker of a baseball novel, as good as last year’s hyped The Art of Fielding and more literary than Grisham’s Calico Joe.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Schuster writes with care and beauty… Though baseball fans will love the richly textured descriptions of minor-league parks and life, the larger human story here is universal.”Time Out Chicago

“A grand slam!”San Antonio Express-News

“Through Edward Everett, Schuster illuminates a side of the game utterly devoid of glamour and often even hope. For every young man who dreams of making a living under the lights, or every middle age office worker imagining how things might have turned out differently had he only been able to hit the curve ball, here's a reminder that the game doesn't always romance those who sacrifice their life and heart to it.”--Baseball America
“A terrific story that goes beyond the sport and deals with promise and aspirations, dreams and disappointments . . . Never mind whether you are a baseball fan. This is a damn fine read.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The Might Have Been is about the hold baseball can have on those who play it, but it's also about acceptance, and patience, and the struggle to know when to fold 'em, and when to run.”Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“[An] excitingly fresh debut…The Might Have Been is everything a great novel is but with baseball thrown in as well.” —St. Louis Beacon
“[M]uch more than a baseball novel. Schuster has written a fine book about the price one pays for being true to a dream, no matter the cost.”Fredericksburg Free Lance Star

“This new novel is full of passion and ambition, and shows the irresistible power of a second chance.”—

"The old-fashioned storytelling approach works well here and feels appropriate for a book about regret, compromised ambition, and loss."—

“Lifelong obsession is hauntingly portrayed in this winning debut novel tracing the life of a baseball player who only wants to play the game. . . . This moving tale will engage even nonbaseball fans as Schuster examines, without succumbing to sentiment or an easy resolution, the cost of chasing a dream.”Publishers Weekly

“Surely destined to join the ranks of transcendent baseball novels.”—Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
“Far from being just about baseball, The Might Have Been is about the persistence of ambition and dreams in both sports and civilian life. This is a very telling novel about American pastimes and American identities, well worth reading.”—Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love

“At the heart of Joseph M. Schuster’s remarkably eloquent novel is Edward Everett Yates, a character so fully human that he demands our complete attention. Many readers will surely find their own lost dreams in this brilliant debut.”—Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture
The Might Have Been is a poignant story that transcends its baseball backdrop. Beautifully written, it is a powerful exploration of facing long odds and broken dreams. In his rookie novel, Joseph M. Schuster connects solidly and displays all-star promise.”—Darryl Brock, author of If I Never Get Back

About the Author

Joseph M. Schuster lives near St. Louis, Missouri, and teaches at Webster University. His short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, and The Missouri Review, among others. He is married and the father of five children.

More About the Author

Joseph M. Schuster is the author of THE MIGHT HAVE BEEN (Ballantine Books, March 2012), a finalist for the CASEY Award for the best baseball book of the year. He has published his short fiction in IOWA REVIEW, KENYON REVIEW, MISSOURI REVIEW and NEW VIRGINIA REVIEW, among other journals. Twice, THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES has cited his work on its list of "Distinguished Short Stories."

Customer Reviews

I've always been a big fan of baseball and baseball books.
Mr. Bey
"The Might-Have-Been" is the story of Edward Everett Yates--brief MLB professional and a man who's essentially committed his life to the game he loves.
JD Cetola
I read the book and as I'm finally finished with it I just felt that the book didn't do much for me.
J. Brandt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With a title like "The Might Have Been," it's no spoiler to say that Edward Everett Yates's life in baseball didn't pan out the way he'd hoped. Bumping around for years in the minors, he finally gets his chance to shine for one brief moment.

It's a train wreck of a moment that determines the rest of Edward Everett's career. His life, though enlivened by the matchless game of baseball, is shot through with regrets. He's something of a sad sack -- unforeseen events have hugely detrimental effects on his life. But he also makes life choices that guarantee he will miss out on many of the joys that make life worth living -- love, family, security, a sense of self worth. He has a dog, but even he has his own sorry tale of epileptic fits and divided loyalties.

If this book had been narrated by one of the many women Edward Everett jilts in his lifetime, I might not have had any sympathy for him at all. But because the author draws him so completely, with all his doubts and faults and fears, I found him to be a tremendously sympathetic character. And, of course, the world of baseball is endlessly fascinating to those of us in the stands. (For a nonfiction account of minor league life, you might enjoy Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit by Matt McCarthy.)

I rarely read a book of fiction to the end, because I don't often find characters or plot points entirely believable. Mr. Schuster's book engaged me to the very end (though there is one sentence that so ominously foreshadowed the ending that I wish it hadn't been there). As I turned the last page, I wished Edward Everett well. I think I just might peek into the dugout of our local AA team on opening day and look to see if he's there.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alan L. Chase VINE VOICE on February 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved this book! It is the debut novel by Joseph M. Schuster. The writing reminded me of some of the best baseball stories already in the pantheon - Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" and Malamud's "The Natural." The author leads us through the plagued career of Edward Everett Yates. Yates got to have his "cup of coffee" in the Big Leagues with the Cardinals. In a gut-wrenching episode, he hits for the pure cycle(single, double, triple and home run in that order) in Montreal before tearing up his knee trying to make a heroic catch in the outfield. The icing on the cake of disappointment is that the game was rained out before it had gone 5 full innings, so statistically, his rare achievement at the plate never happened. With the injury in Canada, Everett's playing career is over, despite attempts to come back. But he cannot walk away from the game, and spends thirty years languishing as a coach and manager in the lowest levels of the minor leagues and independent leagues.

This is a gritty tale of broken bats, broken bodies, broken relationships and broken dreams. The owners, players, coaches, wives, girl friends, family members who make up the roster of Everett's world offer their own share of Pyrrhic victories and disasters. The author does a nice job of highlighting the tension that exists between those whose approach to evaluating the game and its players is purely driven by statistics and SABREMETICS and those who trust their eyes and their gut.

Schuster has found just the right voice for allowing the reader to feel and taste and smell each of the major episodes and settings in the innings of Everett's life. As the end of the book approached, I found myself wishing that I had more of the author's works to devour. I felt like Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, renowned for his passion and joy about the game of baseball when he blurted out: "Let's play two!"
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. L. Cotugno VINE VOICE on March 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If this isn't my favorite book of the year, what surpasses it must be a doozy. I originally chose it because of the baseball background, but it is so rich in so many ways, so surprising and yet familiar, I found myself taking my time with it. This definitely is a book to savor.

We meet Edward Everett Yates in 1977, as he is called up to go to the Show, on the brink of realizing his dream of becoming a player in the major leagues. The liner notes and title already inform the reader of what is to come, that that dream will die before it is realized. What follows is Edward Everett's life, told through a number of set pieces that are at once illuminating and in parts, hilarious, Shuster's talent of description and ear for dialogue render these scenes with cinematic detail, but the writing is so polished and assured, it is amazing to realize this is a debut novel. This is the kind of book that got me to love reading in the first place, more internal that plot driven, but with characterizations so accurate, they are three dimensional. Need I say, highly recommended?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am not the kind of reader who typically reaches for a baseball-themed book. In fact, the last time I went to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, I showed up with a novel in hand, which I read through most of the game (much to the chagrin of my husband).

So for me to like - really like! - a baseball book says a whole lot. It says that Joseph Schuster has a great voice and a wonderful story to tell. And baseball is only a backdrop; in many ways, this story is about life itself and how sometimes, our lifelong dreams keep us from really living.

Edward Everett Yates ("double E") is a dreamer; some might call him a Peter Pan character. The sport has taken a hold of him and he hangs on to it for dear life, creating emotional havoc as he woos - and then jilts - two women of real substance. His lack of emotional regard should have been enough to turn him into a very unsympathetic character; however, Mr. Schuster redeems him by portraying him as a man caught in the grip of an addictive love of a game, despite his best intentions.

We view Edward Everett in the mid-70s, when he really has a chance to recognize his dream. But the title is, after all, The Might-Have-Been, so it's no surprise that he is sidelined just as he's poised to make it big. The next two-thirds of the book catch up with Edward Everett when he's 60 years old and toiling away as the bit manager of a so-so team in one of the lower rungs of the minor league.

Like the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken, Edward Everett often finds himself on the crossroads, where one road can lead to love, money and opportunity, and the other to the fulfillment of a lifelong dream...a boy's dream.
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