SCREWBALL by David Ferrell


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The Boston Red Sox acquire a fabulous young pitcher who has, as they say, an issue.

The issue is a habit of locating stringy old bald guys and cutting their heads off. But what a pitcher! Boston scout Stu Domato, checking out reports of up-and-coming high-schoolers, happened on Ron Kane at a Catholic league game in bleakest west Texas. Built along the lines of and every bit as ugly as Randy Johnson, Kane checks out, on Domato’s portable radar, to be throwing consistently over 100 mph. And he can hit! Could this be it? Could the reptilian high-schooler finally neutralize the famous curse on Boston from trading Babe Ruth for a handful of Broadway beans back in the ’20s? The fabulous end to 75 years of winter couldn’t come soon enough for the team’s ancient bedridden owner or for good-guy manager Augie “Big Fish” Sharkey. Sharkey’s in his last possible manager spot and plagued with more than the usual number of psychos, babies, and has-beens. His artsy wife has no use for the sporting life, there are expensive tuition bills for his son, and he has never, never taken a team to the playoffs, much less the series. When, after a couple of years in a secret Caribbean minor league, Kane is at last brought up to the Bigs, it looks as if everything might just finally be turning around. The kid’s got it. With a blinding fastball and vicious curves, Kane starts burning through the opposition. Sharkey even takes to using him as a designated hitter. But there’s this weird thing going on. Headless corpses of old guys start turning up in every town the Sox play in. Especially Boston. When a video of Kane lobbing a head into a dumpster arrives on the desk of manager Neville Wulfmeyer, the scrambling begins. Wulfmeyer and the owner’s scheming niece start a cover-up that eventually implicates poor old Sharkey just as the Sox finally make it into the series.

For all who believe the worst about baseball management.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-008741-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2003