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One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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--Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day and Friday Night Lights
"One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational and--in an era where sports are too often marred by scandal--as pure and true as a warm spring breeze. This isn't merely a book about baseball. It's a book about heart."
--Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys Won
"Once upon a time, stories like One Shot at Forever were called fairy tales. It is a charming work and so well told by Chris Ballard that it gives sportswriting a good name."
--Frank Deford, author of Over Time: My Life As A Sportswriter
"[A] nonfiction gem about an underdog team that made good. This is the kind of baseball book that has long arms: YA readers, avid baseball fans, sports readers, and narrative nonfiction readers who like to be firmly set in a particular time and place should all find it joyful."
"Chris Ballard brings a big heart and a winning style to tell a memorable story of small-town Illinois. The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters--and sometimes, why it matters too much."
--Cait Murphy, author of Crazy '08
"One Shot at Forever is tender, fun, bittersweet, with a great narrative that just motors. It also features the funkiest coach not just in the history of baseball but the history of sport-an unforgettable character in a beautiful and unforgettable book."―Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day and Friday Night Lights
"There's a reason Chris Ballard has emerged as one of America's top sports writers. One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational and-in an era where sports are too often marred by scandal-as pure and true as a warm spring breeze. This isn't merely a book about baseball. It's a book about heart."―Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won
"This book is so well told by Chris Ballard that it gives sportswriting a good name."―Frank Deford, author of Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter
"Chris Ballard brings a big heart and a winning style to tell a memorable story of small-town Illinois. The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters--and sometimes, why it matters too much."―Cait Murphy, author of Crazy '08
"[A] nonfiction gem about an underdog team that made good. This is the kind of baseball book that has long arms: YA readers, avid baseball fans, sports readers, and narrative nonfiction readers who like to be firmly set in a particular time and place should all find it joyful."―Library Journal
"Chris Ballard finds the heart in the heartland, in this inspirational tale of a small-school ball club that reaches for glory."―Edward Achorn, author of Fifty-nine in '84
"This story has obvious parallels to the classic basketball film Hoosiers and in Ballard's capable hands evokes similar themes of inspiration, camaraderie and the pressure of the once-in-a-lifetime moments associated with prep athletics . Ballard effortlessly captures the conflict between Eisenhower era beliefs and the changing cultural landscape in Vietnam-era America . [He] holds the story of the team together with his conversational prose and boosts the story's poignancy with a touching conclusion that demonstrates the importance of high school sports and hometown heroes."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Ballard joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in September 2000. He has covered the NBA and MLB, written nearly 20 cover stories, penned the back page "Point After" column and written features on everything from pigeon racing to Jake Plummer's post-football life to the Vancouver riots. He is one of five 2012 finalists for a National Magazine Award in profile writing, is a past recipient of a National Headliner Award and was the 2011 winner of The Joanie Award for a story about Cal Berkeley coxswain Jill Costello, who died of lung cancer after her senior year. His 2010 story titled "Magical Season of the Macon Ironmen," which was included in the "Notables" section of the Best American Sports Writing anthology, provided the inspiration for his latest book.
Before joining SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Ballard was an intern at the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ. He has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. Ballard has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, ABC News with Dick Schaap, and Outside the Lines, and speaks regularly to groups of journalism students. A native Californian, Ballard graduated from Pomona College, where he played basketball and was on the track and field team. He lives in Berkeley with his wife Alexandra and two daughters, Callie and Eliza.
To read a collection of Ballard's best feature stories, go to: byliner.com/chris-ballard
Top Customer Reviews
This book transcends the sports genre. It is a character-driven page turner that will appeal to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. It offers a layered and nuanced portrait of Coach Lynn Sweet, the unforgettable protagonist whose unconventional approaches will captivate most readers just as the Robin Williams character did in Dead Poet's Society. And it pays careful attention to temporal characteristics and weaves them into the story in subtle fashion, much like Matthew Weiner does in Mad Men. Readers will feel transported to the early 1970s whether they lived through the era or not and will have a hard time not feeling nostalgic, as if they were part of Macon Ironmen themselves.
Ballard is a gifted writer who draws on his superior reporting and keen attention to detail to paint an intricate picture of a group of boys--bound together by America's game--coming of age against a small town, Vietnam era backdrop.
I couldn't put it down.
At the highest level, the story runs much like Hoosiers, with a small-town Illinois baseball team going on an unlikely run against larger schools. But the real power of the book comes from the interplay of a small town stuck in the 1950s, an outsider coach straight out of the hippie-ville 1960s, a bunch of kids coming of age in the early 1970s, and the memories still seared in their minds as adults today.
Those memories are the real payoff of what's already an engaging story. The narrative is engaging on its own, but the way the games of their youth still stick in the psyche of many of the players, who now are in their 50s and 60s, goes right to what we cherish about high school sports -- whether we played them, coached them, or just cheered on our hometown heroes.
It is a baseball story and in some ways it reminded me of Money Ball.
I loved Money Ball and how Michael Lewis was true to Billy Beane's character and the story of how he single handedly changed professional Baseball.
Chris Ballard, in One Shot at Forever, is as true to this wonderful story and characters as Lewis;
And his characters are all so lovable.
I also think that One Shot, for so many reasons, is an important read for all of us.
It is a great, great American story in a tough time in American history.
Thank you Chris for doing such a thorough job in the research and at the same time turning this into an exciting and inspirational story to read.
If parents and coaches could only read One Shot at Forever and follow Lynn Sweet's main values:
Have fun, don't take it too seriously and facilitate the chemistry and whatever else it takes to give your kids an unconditional confidence that is so strong that it takes them far beyond what any person in their right mind could have predicted.
Sweet claims throughout the book and his life that he did not know how to coach and that he did not do anything but the kids did it all.
It reminded me of another wise man by the name of Socrates who claimed he did not know anything....
I read One Shot in one night.
I cried more than once.
Bravo, bravo, bravo!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful story and I'm very surprised it hasn't been made into a movie yet. I love sports stories about extraordinary teams, and the seasons that make them... Read morePublished 3 months ago by jim
Fun to read. Captured the time period and the people involved in the events. Good sports story for all ages.Published 4 months ago by Lori Choquette
If you grew up in a small town, went to a small school, or if you just love baseball, as I do, read this book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Steve Conradt
Interesting book with a really good "true" story line. Especially good for younger ball players.Published 5 months ago by Rangers Fan
Baseball fan or not, the story of a small town baseball team with an unlikely coach that guids the team to the championship is a quick read, and thoroughly enjoyable.Published 5 months ago by Arlene
Not a kid friendly book as it appears. Requested a refund immediately.Published 6 months ago by Shelley
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written and brought to light by Chris. Although away from the area at the time I know many of the people in the book but I did not know of this... Read morePublished 6 months ago by D Trump
This book turned out to be a really good read. I am not a big sports fan, I bought it simply because it sounded interesting. And, it was. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Kristie