A poignant first novel about an aging baseball player overcoming adversity to make a comeback. In 1960, Bill Mahoney is a 19-year-old California phenom with a hot arm and a contract to pitch for the Chicago Cubs. But it's all downhill from there--he develops bone chips in his elbow before he can even make it to the majors, drifts out of baseball to become a construction worker, and marries a dull young woman named Gloria. The marriage founders in the Sixties (a transformed Gloria grabs the kids and runs off with her lesbian lover), and Mahoney is left to drink and mourn his failed life--eventually ending up in a mental institution, where he gradually begins playing baseball again. In 1981, then, lying about his age, he joins the Lodi Dodgers, a California League Class A team in the L.A. Dodgers farm system. Known now as ""Pops,"" he actually helps pitch Lodi to a division title--while providing advice to his young, impetuous teammates, and even falling love with a beautiful snack-bar waitress. Mahoney will never make the major leagues--but at last he's found himself. No surprises here--but tried, true, and enjoyably sentimental baseball reading.