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Screwball: A Novel

Screwball: A Novel

4.0 5
by David Ferrell

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Could the curse of the Bambino be over? For too many miserable seasons, the Boston Red Sox have endured nothing but defeatand heartbreak.

Finally, there is hope in the sensational Ron Kane, a strapping rookie pitcher whose fastball scorches the radar gun at an ungodly 110 miles per hour. He can also handle the bat. And play the outfield. With Kane dazzling


Could the curse of the Bambino be over? For too many miserable seasons, the Boston Red Sox have endured nothing but defeatand heartbreak.

Finally, there is hope in the sensational Ron Kane, a strapping rookie pitcher whose fastball scorches the radar gun at an ungodly 110 miles per hour. He can also handle the bat. And play the outfield. With Kane dazzling sellout crowds, the Red Sox are suddenly a juggernaut.

The only fly in the ointment is the fact that murder seems to be stalking the club. Wherever the Sox play, a killer strikes, marking his victims with strange ritualistic symbols. Is a fan responsible for the carnage as he follows the team from town to town? Or could it be that the madman wears a Red Sox uniform?Screwball is not just a savage morality tale; it is a hard-hitting, laugh-out-loud look at the greatest battle in modern-day sports: the struggle for sanity.

Editorial Reviews

Baseball fans know that the Red Sox have not repeated their 1918 World Series win since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, thus jinxing the team and preventing them from winning again for more than eighty years. What might Red Sox players and managers do to ensure a World Series win? Scout Stu Domato recruits Ron Kane, an amazing pitcher who can also bat. Domato is told that Kane, like many players, is an "odd duck." Augie "Big Fish" Sharkey, the Red Sox manager, agrees. He and general manager Neville "Wolf" Wulfmeyer cannot help but be impressed with Kane's performance on the field. The press is wowed, the fans are thrilled; can Kane break the curse? When a Boston homicide detective interviews Sharkey and Wulfmeyer about the bizarre death of a famous home-game heckler following Kane's debut, it seems merely a coincidence. As the Red Sox keep winning games, the body count begins to grow. Domato, Sharkey, and Wulfmeyer must weigh the possibility that the player who can get the Red Sox that long-coveted World Series trophy (not to mention hefty bonuses for all three) might be a serial murderer. Characters use salty, authentic locker-room language, and the premise that players might be held to a different standard because of their talent is a disturbing one. As former Yankee player Jim Bouton once said, "If Charles Manson could hit.300, he'd be playing third base in the big leagues." Nevertheless, this black comedy/thriller/sports novel is one that older teen readers, particularly baseball fans, will read, enjoy, and talk about. Recommend this novel to readers of sports novels such as Dan Jenkins's Semi-Tough (Scribner, 1984). VOYA Codes: 4Q 5P S A/YA (Better than most, marredonly by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2003, HarperCollins, 307p,
— Joanna Morrison
Library Journal
Is everything forgiven in America so long as you can throw 110 miles per hour? David Ferrell tests that hypothesis in his gruesome satire, Screwball, a novel that blends the baseball fiction and serial killer genres. Bill "Spaceman" Lee had his share of controversies and trippy outbursts while pitching dependably for the Boston Red Sox in the 1970s.
Kirkus Reviews
The Boston Red Sox acquire a fabulous young pitcher who has, as they say, an issue. The issue is a habit of locating stringy old bald guys and cutting their heads off. But what a pitcher! Boston scout Stu Domato, checking out reports of up-and-coming high-schoolers, happened on Ron Kane at a Catholic league game in bleakest west Texas. Built along the lines of and every bit as ugly as Randy Johnson, Kane checks out, on Domato's portable radar, to be throwing consistently over 100 mph. And he can hit! Could this be it? Could the reptilian high-schooler finally neutralize the famous curse on Boston from trading Babe Ruth for a handful of Broadway beans back in the '20s? The fabulous end to 75 years of winter couldn't come soon enough for the team's ancient bedridden owner or for good-guy manager Augie "Big Fish" Sharkey. Sharkey's in his last possible manager spot and plagued with more than the usual number of psychos, babies, and has-beens. His artsy wife has no use for the sporting life, there are expensive tuition bills for his son, and he has never, never taken a team to the playoffs, much less the series. When, after a couple of years in a secret Caribbean minor league, Kane is at last brought up to the Bigs, it looks as if everything might just finally be turning around. The kid's got it. With a blinding fastball and vicious curves, Kane starts burning through the opposition. Sharkey even takes to using him as a designated hitter. But there's this weird thing going on. Headless corpses of old guys start turning up in every town the Sox play in. Especially Boston. When a video of Kane lobbing a head into a dumpster arrives on the desk of manager Neville Wulfmeyer, the scramblingbegins. Wulfmeyer and the owner's scheming niece start a cover-up that eventually implicates poor old Sharkey just as the Sox finally make it into the series. For all who believe the worst about baseball management. Agent: Philip Spitzer

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By Ferrell, David

Dark Alley

ISBN: 0060726008

Chapter One

Boston: Four Years Later

Two pink neon nipples pulsated above the tall figure of a cat -- the brazen sign of the Topless Kitty strip club two miles south of Fenway Park. Augie Sharkey parked his big maroon Oldsmobile in the gravel lot out front and lumbered inside, squinting through a haze of cigarette smoke tinted red by moonlike ceiling globes. Up on twin stages above him were two young dancers, writhing to the beat of Pearl Jam; the taller one, a supple honey blonde, had just completed a pirouette and slipped off her brassiere, twirling it overhead with a rouged expression of pouty arrogance.

Sharkey watched her for a moment and searched the room. His face was made more rugged by the lurid light. After nine years of managing the Sox, "Big Fish" remained an imposing presence, tall and rawboned, although age and frustration were beginning to give him a tattered look at fifty-seven. His hair, still mostly black and ragged over the ears, was thinning on top; his jowls had broadened; his skin had grown leathery like an old mitt. He retained the air of a warrior, a leader who could endure the brutal vicissitudes of baseball, but there was often an aspect of pain in the hard lines of his mouth -- a scowling, carplike mouth -- and in his eyes, jet-black eyes wedged deep in their sockets.

A scowl creased his face even now, for Sharkey had come to associate strip clubs not with thrills and gorgeous women, but with the drunken improprieties and oh-so-many disciplinary problems of his athletes. That was perhaps one more sign, he thought, of his own inner warping.

Still, he was eager to be here, eager to talk to Domato at greater length, alone. They had just left Wulfmeyer's office, Sharkey's first meeting with the wunderkind. He wasn't sure what to believe. He could scarcely grasp the magnitude of what was unfolding.

"Right here, Fish." Domato hailed him from a corner booth affording the best view of the sinuous dancers. His meaty hand was already wrapped around a shot of Johnnie Walker. Domato's grin was like a kid's at Christmas. "Well, what'd you think? Exudes confidence, don't he?"

"Got plenty of that." Sharkey sat down; he hunched forward as if fearful of being overheard. "You serious about those speeds? Clock him yourself?"

"Swear to God, Fish, he's the fastest pitcher who's ever lived. Hits a hundred and eight miles an hour consistently, and I got him as high as one-eleven. Just twenty-one years old."

Sharkey had heard the stories, the rumors that had swirled within the organization like dust in a whirlwind. That the club had drafted the pitching talent of the ages and secreted him away in the Dominican Republic. It sounded too fantastic to be true, particularly when Kane failed to materialize at spring training. It was like urban legend, talk Sharkey pushed out of his mind, not realizing the hand-wringing that was going on in the front office. Only the depth of the preseason pitching roster had kept Kane from debuting earlier. That had since changed with the trade of Shaun Lee to Minnesota and the rotator-cuff injury to Brian Cooley. Suddenly Kane was here, and Sharkey couldn't hear enough about him.

"It was four years ago? When we drafted him?"

"A total unknown," Domato said. "Wolf, he assigns him to Sarasota, lets him pitch a game at Pawtucket, and, Christ, I'm ready to see this kid in the bigs, but Wolf wants to give him some seasoning, wants to keep the pressure off him, and sends him down to the Dominican. We actually created a league for him down there, just kept him there and worked him. Jesus, you never see the likes of what he can do."

"Haaah -- " Sharkey made a sound that was half laugh, half disbelief. A waitress arrived, wearing nothing but lingerie, and he ordered a Stoli.

Domato was yakking again, saying the years of grooming had more than prepared Kane to pitch in the majors. The kid was going to be the biggest fucking sensation of all time.

"I'll tell you, what a relief he's finally in town." Domato shook his head and grinned." You heard we were expecting him a month ago. I go to Logan, wait there nine fucking hours, and he never shows up. I really thought Wolf would have an embolism. Kid just vanishes. This whole last month -- well, you saw how stressed he looked. Wulfmeyer, I'm talking about. So goddamn paranoid he imagined the Yankees had kidnapped him right off the fuckin' airplane ..."

They laughed. Sharkey had noticed Wulfmeyer's edginess, his hands moving constantly, his laugh too quick and giddy.

"So finally he calls last night," Domato went on. "Kane calls, says, 'I 'm here at the airport.' Just like that. Turns out he'd gotten sick. Some viral thing. Never phoned. Couldn't even reach him. He was staying with some woman."

"Looks healthy now," Sharkey said ...


Excerpted from Screwball by Ferrell, David Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

David Ferrell has been a part of two Pulitzer Prize-winning news teams at the Los Angeles Times. His work has also appeared in The Best American Sports Writing, 1998. He lives in Long Beach, California.

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great book with a ton of baseball action. I recommend this book for 10+ a lot if bad language
Chet_Walker More than 1 year ago
It was a pretty good read. Not bad, I like sports so i thought it looked interesting. and it was a pretty good book. I suggest it to people who like Baseball to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Screwball because I like baseball, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat with a killer stalking around wherever the Red Sox go. When Ron Kane the new young amazing prospect for the Red Sox joins the club he not only makes them win more games, but he causes turmoil within the club. It's also ironic that this book is about the Boston Red Sox winning the world series for the first time since theCusre of the Bambino took place, and the when it was published two months later Boston won the World Series without a Ron Kane though. I gave this book five stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
if you like sports and thriller this is the book for you it keeps you guessing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was great! I am a huge baseball fan, so it kept me interested on that aspect. But it also kept me interested with the mystery of the killer. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is a little wierd at times but overall I give it a strong 4 out of 5.