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THE MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN by Joseph M. Schuster Kirkus Star

THE MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN

By Joseph M. Schuster

Pub Date: March 20th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-345-53026-4
Publisher: Ballantine

An engrossing yarn about a man and his love of baseball.

Edward Everett Yates shows promise as a young ballplayer in the minor leagues. But can he make it to the Major Leagues? Perhaps talent is just one of the factors, although “Edward Everett” might make a marginal big leaguer at best. One day he gets to play for the Saint Louis Cardinals in a rain-soaked game. He’s having a good day until he leaps for a fly ball and changes the direction of his life in an instant. Face it, he is never going to be a Babe Ruth, but God knows he loves the game. For other young men, baseball is a phase of life, a skin they shed before going on to lives as truck drivers, salesmen or lawyers. But Edward Everett can never seem to leave the game for long, and after a brief stint as a flour salesman, he becomes manager of a single-A ball club. He is decent toward women, but his constant travel and assorted shortcomings make stable relationships tough. Nothing about his life’s arc screams “superstar,” but he is a usually considerate man whose character shows through in tough situations, like the suicide of one of his players. Throughout the novel, he tentatively tries to learn about a child—does he have a son?—who stays just barely out of his reach. Schuster paints in vivid detail the crappy ballparks and sometimes desperate wannabes who cannot admit that they should just move on from baseball. This is a terrific story that goes beyond the sport and deals with promise and aspirations, dreams and disappointments. No little boy would fantasize about being the next Edward Everett Yates, but readers will root for him. Like so many of us, he is an ordinary, flawed human being whose life is full of might-have-beens.

Never mind whether you are a baseball fan. This is a damn fine read.