Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Fat Lady Never Sings

The Fat Lady Never Sings: How a Football Team Found Redemption on the Baseball Diamond by Steven Reilly (iUniverse / 0-595-39467-1 / October 2006 / 228 pages / $18.95)

All the sports channels are programmed out of my cable connections to make it easier for me to channel surf through movies, Boston Legal, and CNN. Watching a baseball game bores me silly, and I get enough college football to watch without resorting to the sports-only channels. I am a certified nerd: knowledge and new experience to me are like winning the big game is to most people. I had a feeling about this book before I selected it for review, and my gut instinct was right on the money. The Fat Lady never sings a boring tune. This is a true story about passion, desire for success, and the ethics and overall goodness inherent in the teaching of life's lessons to a group of high school pitchers and bat-swingers.

The Derby Red Raiders were a winning football team in the smallest (by area) town in Connecticut, at least up until the 1992 season that yielded the first losing high school football team that Derby fans had seen in decades. At the end of that psychological disaster, three of the leading players faced an upcoming baseball season with two of them as pitchers and the third, the son of the town's mayor, as a hitter. The head coach of the baseball team and his assistant coach, Steven Reilly, faced an uphill battle to instill confidence into the team who had lost so much self-respect on the gridiron. The book covers the trials and tribulations of the baseball team as they work their way toward the championship.

Fans of Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, and the head coach's own favorite, Hoosiers, will love this book. You get to ride the yellow school bus to the out-of-town games, enjoy an inside look at the coaching strategies that sometime seem to come from out of left field, and of course, you have a dugout view of the detailed action on the diamond. The author's combination of closeup viewpoint and straightforward language sell the book. The point of my opening statement is that you do not have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the smooth storyline and depth of character The Fat Lady so adeptly presents. No, the grammatical editing is not absolutely perfect, and I would have chosen a cover photo with a lot less chiaroscuro for more online appeal, but that's about all I can complain about. Riles, as his friends call him, is a lawyer, a baseball coach, and a genuine writer. Even nerds will enjoy this book.

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