Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lucky: Maris, Mantle and My Best Summer Ever - Wes Tooke


First things first: I hate that title. I hate it worse than I hate the fact that Will "The Thrill" Clark only played a tiny bit of a season with the St. Louis Cardinals then retired. Yeah, that title smells like it was slapped together by a committee. A committee who hadn’t read the book.

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This is a juvenile novel (told in third person, so why is that first person pronoun in the title?) about a 12-year-old boy named Louis May who is lousy at baseball, but knows (and knows and knows) baseball statistics. Because of a lucky catch at a Yankees game in the summer of 1961 and his statistical inclinations, he gets a chance to be a bat boy for the Yankees.


All is not so rosy for Louis at home, though. Mom ran off to be a beatnik in Greenwich Village (in one scene, she takes him to The Gaslight where one of the performers is a very young Robert Zimmerman). Louis is having trouble getting adjusted to life with his new (unsympathetic) stepmother and new (bratty) stepbrother.


Louis’ story and his obligatory coming-of-age feels a little workmanlike and Tooke's eagerness to have everything turn out hunky-dory feels a little forced, but it’s all worth it for the great scenes at Yankee Stadium with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle teaching Louis (nicknamed “Lucky” by Maris) about life and baseball. Tooke's writing really catches fire as Louis follows the exciting and unforgettable race to Babe Ruth’s record. A quick read and a wonderful way to celebrate the start of the new season.

2 comments:

Sam Sattler said...

I generally feel reborn at the end of spring training when games start to count for real. But Astros ownership has so incompetently let the team slide to Triple A proportions that I'm already depressed about the new season - 4 games, 4 losses, 3 of them by blow-out ratios. I miss the Astros and wish they still played major league baseball in this town.

Bybee said...

Sam,
I feel your pain, except it's Cardinal Pain.