One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season [NOOK Book]

Overview

"One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational. . . . 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

In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois, playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats, defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with...
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One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season

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Overview

"One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational. . . . 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

In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois, playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats, defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of 370 teams to represent the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There the Ironmen would play against a Chicago powerhouse in a dramatic game that would change their lives forever.

In this gripping, cinematic narrative, Chris Ballard tells the story of the team and its coach, Lynn Sweet: a hippie, dreamer, and intellectual who arrived in Macon in 1966, bringing progressive ideas to a town stuck in the Eisenhower era. Beloved by students but not administration, Sweet reluctantly took over the ragtag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Together they embarked on an improbable postseason run that buoyed a small town in desperate need of something to celebrate.

Engaging and poignant, One Shot at Forever is a testament to the power of high school sports to shape the lives of those who play them, and it reminds us that there are few bonds more sacred than that among a coach, a team, and a town.

"Macon's run at the title reminds us why sports matter and why sportswriting has such great power to inspire. . . . [It's] one hell of a good story, and Ballard has written one hell of a good book." --Jonathan Eig, Chicago Tribune
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A writer for Sports Illustrated, Ballard (The Art of the Beautiful Game) has expanded an article he wrote for the magazine about the 1971 Macon (Ill.) High School’s baseball team’s improbable run to the state finals. Coached by an eccentric outsider, a team of poor farm boys from a small, rural town take on the bigger and richer teams; 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. By exploring the roots of the laid-back managing style of the team’s coach, Lynn Sweet, a “hippie” English teacher who allows his players to warm up to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar and wear peace signs on their hats, Ballard effortlessly captures the conflict between Eisenhower era beliefs and the changing cultural landscape in Vietnam-era America. But this is first and foremost a sports book, and the core is the dramatic state tournament games that are played out in such detail that it is as if you are sitting in the bleachers with nearly all of the 1,200 residents of Macon. Ballard 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 while asking, if not answering, the question of how much “one game,” win or lose, can change a life. B&w photos. Agent: Robert Wilson. (May)
From the Publisher
"Ballard writes very well and avoids the usual pitfalls of the inspirational story, the cloying platitudes and rah-rah nonsense. These kids were simply good ballplayers coached by a guy with an open mind, a lot of common sense, and a zest for fun." —-Booklist
Jeff Pearlman
"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."
Buzz Bissinger
"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."
Frank Deford
"This book is so well told by Chris Ballard that it gives sportswriting a good name."
Cait Murphy
"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."
Edward Achorn
"Chris Ballard finds the heart in the heartland, in this inspirational tale of a small-school ball club that reaches for glory."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401304324
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 120,059
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Chris Ballard is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated. In his ten years at the magazine he's written features, columns and bonus-length stories and covered a range of subjects, from the NBA and MLB to high-stakes pigeon racing and bass fishing. His work has been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing series and he has twice been nominated by SI for a National Magazine Award. Ballard has also written a number of stories for the New York Times Magazine and is the author of three books: Hoops Nation (Holt, 1998), The Butterfly Hunter (Doubleday, 2006) and The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA (Simon & Schuster/SI Books, 2009). He lives in Berkeley, CA.
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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part 1 Welcome to Macon

Prelude 5

1 Beginnings 7

2 Shark 14

3 Write Your Own Obituary 20

4 "Practice Is Optional" 32

5 Lost in the Corn 42

6 He Ain't Got Shit 49

7 It Only Takes One 65

8 The Announcement 77

9 Long Summer Nights 81

10 Un-American, or Unpatriotic 90

Part 2 The Forever Season

Prelude 99

11 Another Shot 101

12 Hippies, Tape Decks, and a Silent Infield 109

13 The First Step 120

14 We've Only Just Begun 129

15 Big Coop 140

16 Riding into Peoria 153

17 The Baseball Factory 171

18 The Drums 177

19 One Shot 189

20 June 1971 201

Part 3 Ghosts

21 Never the Same 207

22 The Return 221

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 235

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    GREATTTTT!

    I couldn't put the book down. What a great read. Ballard captures life in small town America. David vs. Goliath.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 15, 2012

    You will LOVE this story!

    I loved this book! What a great story....it's a quick read, and you'll want to pass it around! A GREAT gift!

    This teacher taught these small town boys so much more than how to win at baseball. I can't wait for the movie!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Home...home

    I read this nonstop Well written about a small town and its phenomenal players, teachers and families. For me it was trip back to the places I called home during my chilhood and adolescence. It was a softer, more slow paced time that I only wish I could pass on to my grandchildren.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    excellent EXCELLENT Excellent

    I really enjoyed this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    I found this book to be a very enjoyable read. Growing up durin

    I found this book to be a very enjoyable read. Growing up during this time period in neighboring Indiana I could relate to much of what the main characters in the book were going through as they made their way thru the turbulent 1960's and early 1970's. The story definitely makes you think of the movie Hoosiers as they work their way through the Illinois state baseball tournament. The book was well researched and is more than just a sports book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    The Heart of Baseball....

    A candid look into the heart of baseball. These kids just loved to play and their unconventional coach allowed them to have fun. Also a poignant reminder of a special time of life. Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2013

    Sports fan or not, a must-read!

    Ballard does a masterful job of recreating that special time that some of us still remember, when there was only one state tournament for each sport across the state. No classes, big schools vs small schools, winner take all. This is a story that inspires and entertains at the same time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Book review

    I love this book alot i am a die hard baseball fan so i really did enjoy it. If i can read it agian i would!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2013

    A great story about unlikely heroes. Ideal for baseball fans, b

    A great story about unlikely heroes. Ideal for baseball fans, but really for anyone who loves a good "David vs. Goliath" true life story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Very good book

    This is a great story. It traces a small town high school baseball team during an amazing two seasons. The coach uses completely unorthodox methods to mold his team into a winning unit. If you are a baseball fan or not, this is a true David versus Goliath story. It goes on to briefly trace the lives of the participants to show how they continued to be affected by these two magical seasons.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    LIFE LIES WITHIN THESE PAGES

    Through the liives of these unknown heroes and their free spirited coach, you can tag along for the one shot at forever. You will cheat yourself if you do not read this book that touches on all the truly important things in life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    More Than Just A Book About Baseball

    Great Story. Excellent writer. If you played baseball in high school, particularly at a small school as I did, you will enjoy this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

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    Posted May 24, 2012

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    Posted April 22, 2014

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    Posted December 16, 2012

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    Posted June 5, 2012

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    Posted June 7, 2012

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    Posted September 5, 2013

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    Posted December 20, 2012

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