Perfect, Once Removed: When Baseball Was All the World to Me

Overview

“Disguised as a nostalgic, coming-of-age baseball memoir, this is a sly, spare meditation on the perils of childhood, the power of celebrity, the vagaries of human kindness, and how even tenuous family bonds can have a surprisingly steely impact.”—Joe Pilla, Paperbacks Plus

In pitch-perfect prose, and with a gift for conveying the fears and dreams of a young boy’s life, Phil Hoose recalls the magical year of 1956, when his cousin, Don Larsen, pitched a perfect game in the World ...

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Perfect, Once Removed: When Baseball Was All the World to Me

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Overview

“Disguised as a nostalgic, coming-of-age baseball memoir, this is a sly, spare meditation on the perils of childhood, the power of celebrity, the vagaries of human kindness, and how even tenuous family bonds can have a surprisingly steely impact.”—Joe Pilla, Paperbacks Plus

In pitch-perfect prose, and with a gift for conveying the fears and dreams of a young boy’s life, Phil Hoose recalls the magical year of 1956, when his cousin, Don Larsen, pitched a perfect game in the World Series, and the game of baseball helped him take root in a tough new town. Perfect, Once Removed is a wondrous ode to the glory of baseball and to growing up.

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Editorial Reviews

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The perfection spotlighted in the title belonged to Don Larsen, the cousin once removed of the author. On October 8, 1956, Yankees right-hander Larsen hurled the only perfect game in World Series history, setting down 27 Brooklyn Dodgers in succession. Those two hours and six minutes of perfection forever changed the life of young Hoose, who was then a nervous, gawky nine-year-old. His cousin's unprecedented accomplishment made the young Indiana outcast an instant celebrity by extension. The fame didn't last, but the imprint did: Hoose became a sports journalist and author (Hoosiers). A memoir for any fantasy all-star.
From the Publisher
Praise for Perfect, Once Removed (A Book Sense Pick and 2006 Highlight):

“Inspires both author and reader.”—Time

“A charmer of a memoir.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

Perfect, Once Removed is about the magic of baseball when the game wraps itself around a boy’s soul.”—Boston Globe

“With consummate skill Mr. Hoose evokes the era of apple pie and white picket fences…His tale is ascenduring as Don Larsen was flawless that one afternoon 50 years ago.”—Washington Times

Publishers Weekly
Although sports journalist Hoose's memoir of a baseball-obsessed childhood has the potential for the usual suspended-in-amber nostalgia of supposedly more innocent times, his endearingly self-deprecating tone and refusal to trade in cliches gives his story a welcome snap. Growing up in Speedway, Ind., during the 1950s, Hoose (Hoosiers) was an ungainly kid prone to being bullied: "Mine was a toxic combination, weak and mouthy." Like many a bookish boy, Hoose found escape in an obsession: baseball. But unlike his peers, Hoose had a special connection-his cousin (once removed) was Don Larsen, pitcher for the New York Yankees. They corresponded occasionally, and Hoose even shared one thrilling ballpark visit with Larsen. Hoose received even more reflected glory from his famous relative in 1956, when Larsen pitched the first perfect game in the history of the World Series (against the Brooklyn Dodgers). The event was announced to the school by the principal and the normally unpopular author was surrounded by cheering, congratulatory classmates. Although the book drifts into less-interesting territory in its later sections as Hoose tries to find some closure to this (some would say unfairly) glorious childhood episode, it remains, all in all, a well-chiseled memento of one boy's love of the American pastime. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Susan H. Levine
If this book was a movie, it would be called a sweet, sentimental sleeper. Hoose, author of the award-winning The Race to Save the Lord God Bird (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004/VOYA October 2004), and It's Our World, Too! Stories of Young People Who Are Making a Difference (Joy Street, 1993/VOYA October 1993), writes a memoir of his life in 1956, when he and his parents moved to Speedway, Indiana, where he tried so hard to fit in at his new school. He describes himself as "weak and mouthy," an irritant to his third-grade teacher and a perfect target for bullies. Baseball would be his key to acceptance, but he had never played and showed no skills. He did, however, have an ace up his sleeve-a cousin he never knew he had, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees, plus a lot of determination to learn the game. Writing to Larsen to introduce himself resulted in a small but highly meaningful connection that boosted Hoose's confidence and prestige. When Larsen pitched a perfect game during the 1956 World Series, the principal came to Hoose's classroom to announce this incredible achievement and to congratulate Hoose. Does life get better than that? Hoose continues with his visit to Larsen in 2005 and a recent trip to see the Red Sox with his younger daughter, who begins to show a family trait in her excitement over the game. This part might not appeal to many teens. The earlier sections, especially when Hoose and his mother agree on how he can see parts of afternoon games without missing school, are a hoot. Readers with a passion for baseball nostalgia will enjoy this trip back in time.
Children's Literature - Karen Werner
As a nine-year-old boy, Phillip and his family move to Speedway, Indiana. He's not particularly good at anything, and finds fitting into this new school a challenge. Little by little, though, he makes friends, and one day in March, a baseball game is started, a game he had never played. His grandpa had encouraged him to watch baseball on television, but it wasn't very pleasant. Now Phillip wishes that he had paid more attention to the game. The other kids try to show him how to hold a bat and learn the plays, but with little success. He decides to read everything about baseball, but he still needs to learn how to play the game itself. His mother suggests he talk to his Dad's cousin, Don Larsen. This is how the wonderful story of a boy and his very famous relative, a member of the New York Yankees and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (who pitched a no-hitter in the 1956 World Series), begins. Anyone who is a fan of baseball will find this memoir thrilling. Through his personal experiences, Hoose has re-created dialogue that puts the reader in each of the games. Actual pictures of baseball fields and events add to the enjoyment, and the descriptions of the New York Yankees players and the culture of professional baseball helps to create an intense interest in the players, as Hoose becomes a part of their lives in his imagination. Hoose relates how his relationship with Larsen grew, and how he continues to learn and play baseball to this day, all the while remembering his magical year as a young boy, who was happy to find that baseball was his ticket to being accepted.
Library Journal
Hoose (Hoosiers) tells of growing up in the shadow of the Indianapolis Speedway in the 1950s, but another sport cast a bigger spell: baseball. Hoose was a gawky and bullied child who built his confidence and his understanding of the larger world through his budding interest in that sport. Better yet, he was related (first cousin, once removed and hence the title) to one of its stars, Don Larsen, the New York Yankee journeyman pitcher who became hugely famous overnight for his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. The book revolves around that pivotal year when both a young Phillip and an unsung pitcher corresponded and met each other. The photos show the postcards and memorabilia that Larsen sent the boy. An epilog brings the story up to the present, when the two adults have a rare meeting. This well-penned reminiscence will appeal to both general and younger adults. For public and school libraries alike. -Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Hoose was eight years old and trying to make it in a new town when he discovered the importance of baseball. Unfortunately, he was such a poor ballplayer that he despaired of ever succeeding at either the game of baseball or the game of school. Then one day his mother told him he should ask for help from his cousin, a pitcher for the New York Yankees. Hoose wrote to him and began a long-distance relationship with Don Larsen, a man on the verge of greatness. He could have found no better fan than his young relative. Teens will appreciate this story of an ordinary boy and his brush with real superheroes. Hoose met Larsen and such Yankee greats as Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel; he saw the loner Mickey Mantle from across the room. In a satisfying close to this story, the author visits with his now 80-year-old cousin. Period photos help readers to visualize the times.-Will Marston, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
YA author Hoose (The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, 2004, etc.) recalls his youthful obsession with baseball and the profound impact of his casual friendship with a famous cousin who played for the Yankees. Growing up in 1950s Indianapolis, the author loved nothing more than baseball. With the help of indulgent parents who subscribed to nearly every magazine about the sport, he quickly became the neighborhood expert, even fielding phone calls from his barber to settle arguments. Despite his voluminous knowledge, Hoose was dismayed by his lack of prowess on the field, where he was often the last one chosen. Just as he seemingly reached his pre-adolescent nadir, his father mentioned that he was related to none other than Don Larsen, a pitcher for the New York Yankees. The boy wrote to his second cousin about his struggles and received an encouraging note in return, setting in motion a long-distance relationship that would have a significant effect on Hoose's life (though Larsen would only vaguely remember the details years later). Once word spread about his famous relation, he quickly became something of a local celebrity, especially after Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history, in 1956. Though it took place during school hours, Hoose managed to see a few innings thanks to a comically frantic arrangement with his mother, who rode his bike to school at lunchtime so that he could pedal it back home, eat while watching the game, then race back to school just in time for class. These idyllic remembrances perpetuate the pervading cliche that sport was a better, purer pursuit in the past. Hoose's genuine passion for the game shines through, however, and the self-effacingdescriptions of his boyhood troubles make you want to root, root, root for the kid with the big glasses and the wild arm. Removed from perfect indeed, but all the more charming for it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802716279
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.37 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Hoose is the author of Hoosiers: The Fabulous Basketball Life of Indiana, The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, and We Were There, Too. He lives in Portland, Maine, and still plays shortstop in his local softball league.

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