Now that mega-tycoon (and ex-major leaguer) Boss Swaggert has outlawed baseball, it's winter in America all year 'round; he's replaced ballfields with factories (patrolled by hulking police in modified football uniforms) and thrown the ballplayers into cold Candlestick Prison. Into this dreary world is born little Georgie, who throws snowballs that curve around corners amd speaks only banned baseballese (not ""Good morning"" but ""Batter up!""). Nabbed at last, he proposes a contest: if he can throw three pitches past Boss Swaggert, baseball will be restored. If not.... Shannon, whose dark, looming figures strikingly enhanced the drama in Yolen's Encounter (1992), gives this contest, too, an epic feel -- plus a broad streak of comedy; Swaggert, with beetling brows and a huge potato nose, strikes out spectacularly and is last seen ingratiatingly vending peanuts at a game, under blue summer skies. Knowledgeable fans will enjoy the many baseball references cleverly inserted here; Georgie, for instance, recalls Charles (""Old Hoss"") Radbourn, the 19th century's greatest pitcher.