Extra Inningsby Robert Newton Peck
From the author of A Day No Pigs Would Die comes a new novel about recovering a dreamand a family. Sixteen-year-old pitcher Tate Stonemason is crippled in body and spirit after a devastating plane crash. He finds unexpected solace from his stalwart great-grandfather and his warm. loving great-aunt Viddy, who tells Tate the story of her childhood years spent traveling with Ethiopia's Clowns, a ragtag Depression-era baseball team.
About the Author:
Robert Newton Peck is the best-selling author of Cowboy Ghost, A Day No Pigs Would Die, A Part of the Sky, and the highly successful Soup series. He lives in Longwood, FL.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.56(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
"Hurry it up, you pokes."
Thirty feet behind, passing slowly beneath a gum tree, sixteen-year-old Tate wasn't spurred by the older man's gruffness. The spry gentleman of eighty-two had halted and turned to smile warmly at a great-grandson and a dog.
Close to Tate's side, Ballerina, the coonhound bitch, might have kept pace with their patriarch despite her age and hesitant gait. Yet, among the tall shafts of golden switchgrass she waited, to encourage the boy with her company.
Determined to endure the bellowing throb in his right leg, Tate marveled at her concern that he could no longer run. Barely walk. Six months ago, a crashing Cessna had annihilated his leg to within a prayer of amputation.
Tate had been the only survivor.
Six others died, consumed by exploding flame: the family's professional pilot; Tate's older sister, Prudence Grace; and their parents and paternal grandparents.
After a week in shock, Tate could speak; it took a month to sit up in a hospital bed, two more months with crutches, and another six weeks hobbling on a cane. Today was Tate Bannock Stonemason's first hike among the familiar and fragrant pines and oaks of the family's far-flung Florida estate.
"Doing okay, Tater?"
"We're both coming, Great-Granddad."
Struggling forward, Tate stroked the hound's silky head. A dainty dog, Ballerina was sleek and slender, almost entirely black, with patches of brown over her intelligent eyes, on her jowls, and along her delicate legs. Eleven years ago, she had wandered to his great-grandfather's kitchen door, thin and hungry, too dignified to beg.
Aunt Vidalia had petted and fed her,named her Ballerina, and adopted her for life, as Vidalia herself had been permanently adopted and given the name Stonemason.
"She knows." The elderly man waited for them. "Had I brought the Purdey, she'd be ahead of us, Tater, quartering a field, inhaling information with every sniff, and flushing quail." Kneeling to cradle her chin in a gentle hand, he added, "Ballerina realizes we didn't bring a gun."
"At times," Tate admitted, "she's so clever it's spooky. When my laundry bag's full, she tugs at it with her teeth, telling me to tote it downstairs to the washer."
"Whip smart. If trailing a raccoon that takes to wet, she won't follow. In water, a coon'll drown a dog in seconds because under the surface, a lot of hounds are too stupid to hold breath. But no coon'll drown Ballerina." Bending to touch the moist ground with the tip of an arthritic finger, Great-Granddad said, "Bobcat track. No wonder our whooping cranes aren't so plentiful." He stood up, then pointed. "Look over yonder."
Tate squinted. Whoopers?"
"No. Notice the bright red tufts on their heads? Sandhill cranes. And those longleggers way beyond are ironhead storks."
"If you say so."
Tate didn't know an ironhead from a Sopwith Camel. Yet he planned to learn. Trying to balance himself, he involuntarily yielded to his troubled leg and winced, aware that little escaped the steel-gray observation of Abbott Bristol Stonemason.
"Pain," his great-grandfather said compassionately. "Personal and private. Impossible to shoulder for another. A leg is the least of all yours." Again he caressed the coonhound. "We three are all suffering, Tate. This venerable hunter, her tail once high and happy, feels discomfort with every step. Going deaf. Sleeps indoors in patches of parlor sunlight to ease her stiffness." He studied her face. "Those eyes are a cloudy fog of winter, overcast, as if Ballerina's seen all that she was meant to see."
For an instant, Tate's pain eased in the pride of being the great-grandson of the stalwart yet sensitive man who now tousled his hair.
"Blessings," the old voice said, "far more than burdens have always been bestowed on me, Tate. When your greatgrandma Lavinia was alive, we took little Viddy to our hearts and home. Over sixty years ago, it was unheard of for a white family to adopt color. And now you're also living with us."
"It's all so strange, Great-Granddad."
"Hope I survive long enough to fashion you some. Not into my mold. Into yours." He shook his head. "Enough sentiment. I can't stomach too much artificial sweetener. How's the leg?"
"Mending," he lied.
"Bully, as Theodore Roosevelt liked to say. Way before my time, but I read he was sickly but never a quitter."
"Is this a pep talk? Sorry, but I received too many from the hospital shrink, so pardon my being full up on motivation."
A.B. said, "Consider yourself pardoned. On that score, I hope you pardon Vidalia and me. Living with two elderly people may not be comfortable for you. Yet with us is where you belong. For now."
"You and Aunt Vidalia seem so formal."
"We're devotees of tradition. I would suppose it is just plain stuffiness."
"You and Aunt Vidalia are fingers on a fist. Both of you old-fashioned South."
"Viddy's a conservative lady and has always formed her own boundaries of propriety. Abhors trash, be it black or white. At times, she's an uppity snob." He held up a finger. "But her bias is based on conduct. Certainly not on wealth." The older man patted the dog. "Good grief, lad, Vidalia is seventy! At this age, do you imagine she's fixing to budge an inch? Not hardly. Our charming, caring, and often contrary matron is the most financially endowed heiress in Swamp County. Viddy has two stockbrokers, three savings accounts, plus bonds and a stack of tax-free municipals."
It pleased Tate to learn this. For years, his parents had told him that, when he first began to talk at age two, his first word was "Viddy." As he grew, Vidalia and he were woven by affection into a strange union, a combining that elated the entire Stonemason clan...Extra Innings. Copyright � by Robert Peck. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Robert Newton Peck is the author of more than sixty books, including Horse Thief, Cowboy ghost, and A Day No Pigs Would Die. According to Newsweek, Mr. Peck "manages to evoke a sense of vanished America when neighbors were neighborly, when food was home-cooked, and clothes and philosophy homespun." Raised on a farm, he is familiar with cattle, hogs, and horses. He lives with his wife, Sam, in Longwood, Florida, where he and a partner currently own eleven mustangs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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You know your reading a good book when you find yourself not being able to put it down. However, I did not experience this when reading Extra Innings by Robert Newton Peck. This book was 215 pages too long. Young Tate who was harmed in a plane crash, struggles to play the game he has loved and mastered since a very young age. Dispite losing his Mother, Father, great grandparents and Sister in the crash, Tate stays strong. Taken care of by his Aunt Vidalia who reassures him numerous times of her struggles in the past and how she overcame them. This upside down story captures many moments from the early 1900s, and many racial conflicts between blacks and whites. Also, there is quite a lot of baseball terms not the everyday reader would know. So I suggest you to be a baseball fan if you are going to read this. Although Tate will slowly heal, does he have enough to heal inside and find his inner strength to play ball again? Read it and find out for yourself.