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

3.9 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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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.”—Cleveland.com

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

“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.

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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
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Might-Have-Been by Joseph Schuster tells the story of Edward Everett Yeats from the time he is called up to the big leagues to play what turns out to be his one and only game. He is having a remakable game when he risks all to catch a fly ball and ends up tearing up his knee, effectively ending his chances to play ball at that level forever.

EE doesn't quit baseball, however, and ends up thirty years later managing a minor league team with the usual run of OK to bad to sometimes really gifted players. EE is a good and caring coach. One of his players has all the heart in the world but no talent. Another is really gifted but with the maturity and good sense of a child. Another gifted pitcher just seems unable to pitch more than 5 good innings. The ball- park they play in is condemned The owner is a cheapskate. The parent organization cares only about what matters to them - certainly not human frailties and cares..the human cost of dashing the dreams of young players doesn't even enter their mind.

It all comes to a head when the talentless player is cut from the tema and gets into a fight with the most talented, resulting in a career-ending injury that echos the injury that ended EE's career.EE is just going through his second divorce and has in fact nothing much to show fopr his life in baseball except just that, 30m years in baseball.

This is a very human book, very skillfully capturing the pathos of a life in baseball. All the players were really something special in high school, but very few get to become major leaguers. Dreams are shattered. Luck is important. Human connections matter. Lives are lead, flawed, funny, sexy, sad and sometimes touched by grace. EE ghrows up a bit. He tries to do the right thing, sometimes with success.
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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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