On credentials alone, this book is essential for readers of popular fiction. Bouton is a former Yankee pitcher, permanent enfant terrible, and author of Ball Four plus Ball Five (1981), one of the zaniest true-life adventures in baseball ever written. Asinof is author of Eight Men Out (1963), the definitive account of the Black Sox scandal of 1919. They alternate chapters, and perspectives, on a game that will determine whether the Chicago Cubs will go to the League Championship Series. Bouton tells it from the viewpoint of the pitcher, Sam Ward, the league's oldest rookie. Asinoff tells it from the viewpoint of umpire Ernie Kolacka, a man too honest to succeed in the game; now calling his last game before forced retirement, he is under immense pressure to throw the game. The close-up, inning-by-inning view of the workings of the game will remind true fans of Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings (Ticknor & Fields, 1985). This is a terrific story about two men who love and need baseball as well as a suspenseful story about one important game. Strongly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/94]-Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia.
YA-It's the last game of the season and the Cubs and Phillies are battling it out to decide which team will make the playoffs. Sam Ward, a 32-year-old rookie, takes the mound for the Cubs, his first start in the major leagues. A lot rides on his performance, for this game will determine whether the sacrifices he and his family have made for him to follow his dream have been worth the price. Umpiring the game, his last before forced retirement, is 60-year-old Ernie Kolacka, whose career is the one aspect of his life that he regards with any pride. Kolacka is torn by divided loyalties when a longtime friend pleads with him to call the game in favor of the Phillies. Bouton and Asinof, writing in alternating chapters, give two utterly different viewpoints-pitcher and umpire's-from the hours preceding the big game through its final inning. A thoroughly satisfying book, providing insight into baseball as well as telling an exceedingly good story.-Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA