Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gritty Small Town Baseball fiction from the 60s

January 2014, Black Rose Writing
ISBN: 978-1612963068
Print $15.95
E-book $6.99
Buy on Amazon

From the publisher:
From right field of the sparse Ashippun's Fireman's Park to the vacated County Stadium dugout of the Braves final Milwaukee home game in 1965, The Ashippun Trap takes readers on a wild nostalgic ride using a unique blend of baseball fiction and extensively-researched baseball fact. Parlee is an aging town baseball player who's just good enough to be able to hustle the game for his own financial gain during an era where large crowds blur the lines between amateur and pro players. With age and other factors waiting on deck, Parlee contemplates his limited baseball future from his dim and damp vantage point in Ashippun's right field. Forty miles to the east, under the bright Major League lights of Milwaukee's County Stadium, Braves backup catcher Gene Oliver, Parlee's childhood friend from a chance meeting on an Iowa farm years earlier, also considers life without baseball as he and his teammates play in front of thousands of empty seats each day while being forced to endure the Braves' final, lame duck season in Milwaukee. Parlee and his hand-picked crew of talented feral ballplayers jump in Parlee's 1959 Chevy Impala and head off on a 90-mile beer-fueled journey to a weekend tournament in Plymouth where the pay out attracts the best amateur players in Wisconsin. The trip eventually ends with Parlee and Gene Oliver narrating their view of the aftermath of the Brave's final game in Milwaukee from the vacated County Stadium dugout as they search each other's soul for a compass to guide their own baseball futures. Readers ride along but there's no sense in fastening their seatbelts because none exist on this carefree, nostalgic ride that puts the reader in the wooden grandstand's front row for a first-hand look at the dirty, salty side of baseball with a fresh look at the Braves' one-of-a-kind final season in Milwaukee

My review:
What an interesting concept - small town baseball during the height of the 60s craze before television eliminated small town camaraderie and made monsters of us. If you love really gritty baseball stories from the small town team perspective, you'll enjoy Doug Welch's book. An entertaining story, Welch tracks one fictional summer league set among real south central communities in Wisconsin, its ups and downs, during the final home league of the Milwaukee Braves. If you didn't know what it was like back then, you will after reading this book. All the color (and language), ins and dirty little secrets come to life.

Recommended for later high school age and up - told from the manager, Parlee's, perspective throughout. Uses real-time plays from the major league, listened to by the characters while on a road trip.

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