by Scott Lasser
Baseball — my first love — is the setting that attracted me to this 10-year-old novel, but it’s the people on the team — their dreams, their lives, their loves and their losses — that make “Battle Creek” a winner in the field — the field of literature.
Author Lasser has the inside stuff of the diamond down pat — the thinking of pitchers and hitters, the managerial strategy, the nuts and bolts of the game. But he’s even better at the inside stuff of life, the moral dilemmas that real people face off the field, the decisions that we all have to make and the impact that they have on us and others.
“Battle Creek” walks us through a season in the lives of amateur players and their coaches, a group of once-weres, coulda-beens and wannabees, and a talented group at that. Can they capture that elusive national championship? Can they do it without resorting to spitballs? Can they do it while finding satisfying relationships off the field?
What are they willing to do to get where they want to go — both on the field and off?
It’s a guy’s book, to be sure, a baseball-loving guy’s book. And, if you ever played the game beyond tee-ball, there’s an interesting insight into just why it is we love this game. — bz