BALLS by Gorman Bechard


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 An obvious and silly fable about baseball's first female superstar. Screenwriter and author Bechard (The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, 1991) begins in the year 2000, when Commissioner Dan Quayle rules a game in which many changes have taken hold. None is more unsettling, though, than the Supreme Court's decision allowing 23-year-old Louise ``Balls'' Gehrig to play first base for one of the league's newest franchises, the upstart Manhattan Meteorites. While the court says ``go,'' many fans say ``no''--among them Joey, a loudmouth sports radio call-in show habituÇ, and Arnold Loiten, a cranky Atlanta sports writer. These two merely voice their displeasure, but others use stronger methods--like the crazies who send dismembered dolls and bloodied uniforms as fan mail to the distaff dynamo. Still, the season progresses, and the Meteorites are piling up wins en route to a heavily foreshadowed playoff with the powerhouse Atlanta Braves. Naturally, Louise heads the charge, repeatedly foiling Braves star hurler Rocky Goetz--who, we later discover, has been sending items more dangerous than brush-back pitches Louise's way. As if the author hasn't thrown us enough beanballs, he piles it on with two unbearable romantic subplots, one involving Louise's 40ish mother, Maragaret, and veteran Meteorites slugger Bob Dixon, and the other pairing Louise with ace Yankees hurler Cole Robinson. Forget about the utter implausibility of any 5'6'-tall person, woman or man, excelling in a position requiring Bunyonesque size and strength, or an expansion team going all the way. This story's real fault lies in the author's inability to hold back from such cutesy-poo shenanigans as locker-room crushes and constant barrages of egregious name-dropping (Dave Winfield as Yankees manager?). Bechard pitches some okay stuff but lacks control.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-452-27294-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Plume
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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