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The Last Best League : One Summer, One Season, One Dream
Every summer, in ten small towns across Cape Cod, the finest college baseball players in the country gather in hopes of making it to "The Show." The hopes are justifiably high: The Cape Cod Baseball League is the best amateur league in the world, producing one out of every six major league players, from Nomar Garciaparra and Frank Thomas to Jeff Bagwell and Barry Zito. Jim Collins chronicles a season in the life of one team--the Chatham A's, perhaps the most celebrated team in the league. Set against the backdrop of a resort town on the bend of the outer Cape, the story charts the changing fortunes of a handful ?of players battling slumps and self-doubt in their effort to make the league playoffs and, more importantly, impress the major league scouts. We learn about everything from the physics of wooden bats and the physiology of elbows to the psychology of slumps and the lure of drugs. In the course of a single dramatic season, with euphoric wins and devastating losses, we come to know the intricacies of the major league scouting network and the rapidly changing profile of major league baseball. In the tradition of The Boys of Summer, The Last Best League is about dreams fulfilled and dreams denied, about Cape Cod and the rites of summer, and about the way one small town grows to love a group of young men coming of age in America.
The Cape Cod Baseball League, which began in the 19th century as local entertainment for summer residents, has evolved into the jewel of American amateur baseball. Sanctioned by the NCAA, the league invites the best college players to come to breezy seaside communities to work on their game during what amounts to their off-season�"late June through mid-August�"without sacrificing their amateur status. And come they do, to one of the 10 teams sponsored by small towns and New England businesses, staffed by volunteers, the players hosted by local families and given day jobs as clerks, seafood haulers and day-camp counselors. Collins, a former editor of Yankee magazine and once a Dartmouth second baseman with dreams of the big leagues, brings a local historian's eye and the heart of a fan to a chronicle of one Cape Cod League team, the Chatham A's, during the 2002 season. He has produced a book that will be a treat to casual fans who might not know the process by which college players are courted by agents�"graded as to character, body type and bat speed, and then tagged with a price. Collins wisely focuses his story on a handful of the most promising Chatham players, most memorably Wake Forest's slugging third baseman Jamie D'Antona, an extremely likable nutcase, for whom readers will find themselves rooting hard. There is also the undersized Blake Hanan, the brainy Princeton righty Tom Pauly and the sphinxlike load of a pitcher, Tim Stauffer. Their crusty manager, John Schiffner, adds a little spice and tobacco juice to the mix. Along the way, readers will gain an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball, as it once was, in the heart of local communities.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Da Capo Press
March 14, 2005
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