This post is a reader’s response to a book read for the 2013 Hub Reading Challenge.
I like going to baseball games not because I have a philosophical attachment or even understand the game’s complexities, but because it’s a nice thing to do on a summer evening. I like the taste of stadium food; I like singing along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and I like hearing the bat crack on the ball. I like minor league games the best because the men playing them have something to prove. The stadiums are shabbier, but the game has more heart.
Reading Chris Ballard’s One Shot At Forever, the true story of a tiny Illinois high school baseball team in 1971 and their magical winning season, I was reminded not only of the joys of watching baseball, but also the thrill of being young and caught up in something so much bigger than oneself. Whether it’s falling in love, singing in church, or being a Macon Ironman, everyone has a first time when they are swept away into something glorious that they could never do on their own. If they are very lucky, they recognize it and remember it forever.
Ballard’s book is laced with nostalgia — the music, mood, and culture of 1970s, the isolation of small-town America, the poetry of baseball, the heartbreak and passion of youth. I appreciate most of all his effort to immortalize something almost forgotten. At the time he wrote the book, few still remembered the Macon Ironmen, their inspiring teacher and coach, and their trip to the state championship. Thanks to Ballard, I will never forget it.
— Elise Forier Edie