An excessively cute and labored first novel about a bunch of middle-aged ex-Little Leaguers who decide to relive their glory of 30 years before. In 1954, The New Becton (Maryland) Hot Dogs were 25-0 and all set to play the dreaded Poughkeepsie Pintails in the Williamsport Little League World Series—when the games were canceled because the racist opposing manager of the Pintails objected to the presence of a black player on the Hot Dogs. It's now 1989, however, and promoter Elmer Thumm—wealthy hot-dog king and former manager of the Dogs—has organized "The Little World Series That Should've Been." It seems that all the old players of each team have gathered together for five showdown games to be played in major-league parks all over the country—whoever wins the series gets a bundle of cash. Told from the point of view of Walker "Hooter" Horton—the Hot Dogs' tiresome catcher and a small-time sportswriter—the novel degenerates into quality-lit jock talk of the most spurious kind ("It's hotter than a sauna full of Sumos behind this catcher's mask"). To make matters worse, Horton falls in love with a beautiful Baltimore Sun columnist, a woman by the name of Larry Barnes. The two solve a game-fixing attempt, and the Dogs emerge triumphant after great national publicity—enough, in fact, to encourage Larry to write a book about the whole affair and call it The Bad News Bears. Yet another made-for-TV novel that gives baseball literature a bad name.
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