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Jim ""Streak"" Roark is looking forward to pitching his high-school team to the county championship, little knowing how rocky the road is going to be. For one thing, he's fascinated by Jennifer Douglas, a self-possessed, athletic sophomore quietly fighting to join the team, but Jim can't shake his conviction that baseball is a man's sport. As the two grow close to each other, they argue furiously over what she calls ""politics."" Then two members of Jim's team develop personal troubles off the field, archrival Hillcrest comes up with a new superstar, and Jim discovers that major-league scouts are interested in him. Balancing these pressures, Jim finds stability in the pleasure of the game: for him, baseball is an intense, sensuous experience built upon the crowd, the field, the players, and the feel of the ball. Klass uses this story to show some of baseball's subtler attractions, as well as to air some of the arguments for and against integrated teams (he also includes a subplot involving the dangers of drunk driving), but the plot keeps moving right along Readers will enjoy the tension as the big game approaches--when, inevitably, Jennifer comes off the bench as a last-minute replacement. But though Jennifer performs well, she is no idealized phenomenon, just a capable player with strengths, weaknesses and desire. Like several other characters here, she shows intriguing depths and shallows. Another thoughtful, expertly crafted story from the author of The Atami Dragons.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1987
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton