Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures

Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures

by Jon Hart


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Jon Hart is not a professional athlete. His one major sports victory is a world championship in roller basketball, which is basketball on in-line skates. More than ten years ago, he started pursuing his own bucket list and embarked on a hilarious and insightful journey into the furthest reaches of the sports world.
Man versus Ball follows Hart’s adventures around the country as he undertakes new missions, often with unexpected results. He becomes a pro wrestler, learning “fake” moves that all but land him in the hospital after a body slam went awry. He plays an entire season for a championship semipro football team, suits up as a U.S. Open ball boy for three years, and is an “amateur caddie” for a Professional Golfers’ Association tournament. After attending mascot school, he performs in a neon gorilla suit in front of several thousand fans at a minor league hockey game. He works as a vendor at several venues around the country, hawking concessions while fending off drunken fans. He even earns a bit of glory for himself, leading his roller basketball league in rebounds for two consecutive seasons. Feeling confident, he takes part in the World Cup of roller soccer, which is soccer on in-line skates. All this prepares him for his moment of truth: a race up the 1,576 stairs of the Empire State Building.
A George Plimpton–style excursion into the athletic unknown, Man versus Ball will delight and inspire readers who have secretly yearned to cross fun items off their life’s to-do list.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612344140
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

JON HART has written for the New York Times and an array of outlets that have sadly bitten the dust. He graduated first in his class from mascot school. Then again, he was the only person in his graduating class. As a U.S. Open ball boy, he was runner-up for rookie of the year. He has never been to the Olympics in any capacity, but he has done the Macarena with an Olympic gold medalist. He lives in New York City, which he hopes will not be held against him.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Pre Game 1

1 Plimpton 5

2 Welcome to the Major Leagues 31

3 School of Hard Knocks 51

4 Smells Like Team Spirit 61

5 Invisible at the U.S. Open 75

6 Amateur Caddie 95

7 The Real Rollerball 101

Halftime 113

8 Back to the Majors 115

9 World Cup for Roller Suckers 135

10 Extra Innings 141

11 Racing up the Empire State Building 153

12 Spring Training 159

13 Old-Fashioned Hardball 165

Overtime 169

About the Author 171

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Man Versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Review: When one thinks of a writer who participated in a sport in order to write about, many will think of George Plimpton, who famously took the field and ice with the Detroit Lions and Boston Bruins respectively in order to write about his experiences.   Jon Hart does that and so much more in his very funny and sometimes poignant book “Man Versus Ball.”   The reference to Plimpton is appropriate here because that is Hart’s nickname in the first story in which he is a member of a semi-pro football team.  While his playing time is sparse, his stories about that season are rich with humor and personal interest stories.   That is a good foundation for the rest of the book, which has more stories of Hart’s time as a ballpark vendor, a mascot, a ball boy at the US Open (which contained the best line in the book – “No, Toto, this isn’t Court 18 anymore!”), and a participant in a game that was a cross between in-line skating and basketball.  I read that chapter twice and I still don’t understand that game. Having been a vendor at major and minor league ballparks and arenas, Hart’s stories as a vendor at both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium struck a chord with me as I could relate to practically every situation, every interaction with both fans and coworkers and the quirks that make up the profession of the ballpark vendor.  I look back on those days fondly, and Hart’s stories about those adventures brought back some great memories.   If there is a negative about the book, it was that I just couldn’t get into the inline basketball league, but that too was a funny piece that those who are into in-line skating would really enjoy. It didn’t diminish from the quality of this book, which was excellent.  It is a great book for readers who enjoy sports stories off the field of play and for those who enjoy humor or comedy.   I wish to thank Mr. Hart for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Did I skim? No.   Pace of the book:   It read quickly as the stories were not only entertaining, they were broken up into shorter segments that made the pace of the book much quicker. Do I recommend?   This is recommended for not only sports fans, but anyone who likes to read humorous stories or memoirs.