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Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel Paperback – April 1, 2012
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"This was home. The ballpark. The one place in the world that mattered. The one place in the world that did not morph in the tumult of the universe." Nappi follows up The Legend of Mickey Tussler (2008; made into the 2011 TV film A Mile in His Shoes) with more diamond action between the Brewers and archrival Rangers. This is highlighted by the return of Mickey, the "Baby Bazooka," and the arrival of slugging catcher Lester Sledge from the Negro Leagues... Not even repeated attacks from local members of the KKK prevent him from emerging "like a powerful pupa" to shine on the field. Meanwhile, as Mickey mows opposing batters down, his mother and Brewers manager Arthur "Murph" Murphy consummate their relationship ("...her entire lifetime had been communicated to him through her soft, wet lips"). As in the opener, Rangers' chicanery again leads to a climactic Brewers defeat, but a call to the Show for Murph, Mickey and Lester tacks on an upbeat ending. (Excerpted from Kirkus)
"A moving story about an exceptional boy with uncommon athletic ability. This novel harkens back to the days when baseball was King."
"Frank Nappi knocks another one out of the ballpark! If there were a Hall of Fame for Baseball books, this heart-warming Mickey Tussler series would be in it."
"Yet another brilliant baseball tale by a first-rate storyteller. The ongoing sage of Mickey Tussler will speak powerfully to young readers as well as anyone of any age who truly loves our national pastime."
- Howie Rose, WFAN Sports Radio
From the Back Cover
"Will win over kids and parents alike. Read it together one summer between ballgames and on a family vacation."
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And now Nappi has penned Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel, the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.
Sophomore Campaign picks up where "Mickey Tussler" left off, with Mickey, the autistic young baseball player, and Arthur Murphy, the coach who discovers him, entering another season of minor league baseball for the beloved Milwaukee Brewers.
Mickey's mother Molly finally leaves his abusive father and they move in with Murph who is very good to them, nurturing them in all ways. He becomes a surrogate father to Mickey, while Molly and Murph develop feelings for each other, but agree to keep it platonic.
After last season's violent conclusion, Molly is reluctant for Mickey to play again this year; she fears their main rival team might get violent again, damaging her son's spirit beyond repair.
With a wicked pitching arm, Mickey has become the team's most valuable asset and is idolized by baseball fans all over. When in the game, he overcomes his social awkwardness and mental fragility, and due to Murph's tender, loving care, he certainly learns all about baseball.
The trouble starts this season with the opposing pitcher holding a huge grudge against Mickey for gaining such popularity. With the approval of his unethical coach, he plans to undermine Mickey at every opportunity, even to cruelty, if need be. But the real trouble commences with Murph hiring an African American ballplayer with raw talent and great potential.
Remember, this is set in the 40s when prejudice was still pretty rampant... It's enough to say that the entire team is subjected to racial threats and violent episodes, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. His struggles to understand such ugliness and hatred affect his game... That's all I can say without giving spoilers.
Why does Molly Tussler finally consent for her son to play again? What happens when fans quit attending games because of their outdated prejudices, and how do the fans treat the new player Sledge? How does this effect Mickey? What happens between the club owner and Coach Murph? And how does the Klu Klux Klan become involved?
But for romantics, the main question is what finally happens between Murphy and Molly? :-)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the answers to those questions, and I'm certain you will, also. Frank Nappi is a gifted writer who understands human nature and has a clear, concise way of presenting his stories. He makes his characters, the games and the scenery come alive before your eyes. I really care what happens to each and every one of them; even while rooting for the bad guys to get their comeuppance...
Despite representing the 40s accurately (with all its prejudice), this is a very wholesome, inspiring book. You will end up admiring this author as much as you love the spirit of Mickey Tussler, a role model for autistic children everywhere.
Since "The Legend of Mickey Tussler" was a homerun, Sophomore Campaign is a grand slam!
Very highly recommended...
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, April 25, 2012
Author of award-winning "1106 Grand Boulevard"
SOPHOMORE CAMPAIGN opens where the previous Tussler book left off - Arthur Murphy is devastated about the loss of the last game of his Milwaukee Brewers with the Rangers, a loss he attributes to the unfortunate turn of events in Mickey Tussler's life. Murphy had devoted his life to bringing the autistic Tussler to a role of success as a pitcher, and he is determined to place the emotionally injured Tussler back into the game. And as if this weren't enough of a challenge, Murphy brings on Lester Sledge, an African American player (remember the time frame - this is in the 1940s when baseball teams were `segregated') so once again the Brewers are the focus of derision and hatred from inside and out, but the miracle Nappi's creates is using this new focal `man with challenges' to allow Mickey Tussler to face, cope, and understand that part of the world's prejudice against people with differences. Nappi fleshes out this tale with all manner of intrigue, love affairs, and examples of human behavior run amuck in the presence of people with 'differences'. His characters are three dimensional, credible and stay with us as Nappi spins his story to conclusion. This is a powerful novel, absolutely equal to the original in compassion and study of the realities of America, making this, again, a Frank Nappi that cannot be dismissed. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 14