Another of veteran Manfred's vigorous novels of the American heartland (Eden Prairie, Sons of Adam, etc.), this time starring a small-town baseball star. It's the early 1920's; Sherm Engleking is a German-American farm boy whose dreams of glory with the Cubs run counter to the strict work ethic of his family and church. When Ma Engleking refuses to permit him to play what she sees as a frivolous game, Sherm runs away to work on an older brother's farm. There, he comes into his full growth, earning his own tract of land through hard work and good management--and playing baseball. Gifted with major-league potential, he and his teen-age nephew Free become the stars of a town team competing against nearby communities and a barnstorming black team. At the same time, Sherm courts Allie Pipp, a pretty gift who cannot understand his baseball ambitions. A moral crisis comes when a pro scout asks Sherm to play a Sunday game with a nearby team as a tryout. He plays, despite his mother's appearing in mid-game to scold him for Sabbath-breaking, and is invited to spring training with the Cubs--only to have his hopes ended by a harvesting accident in the next-to-last chapter. A pleasant, always readable evocation of small-town farm life and country baseball--full of nostalgia and authentic detail.