Mr. Bowen is a hardy perennial on the baseball border but this time he proves that even an old pro has his bobbles. When a novel for girls this age involves a run of hard luck for the girl and then winds up with boy and girl lip-to-lip and ring-on-finger, it's dismissed as gush. It is only fair then to say that a high school pitcher who pants after the major leagues, runs into tough luck and then winds up with a signed contract and everything coming up shut-outs is, perhaps, bush league gush? And yet, the story has (or could have had) something. On the evening of graduation day, when Johnny Brown is to sign his major league contract, the school boy celebration involves liquor which he does not touch. However, he is splashed and reeks of it. He volunteers to drive for his tippling teammates. When the car crashes (not his fault) two friends are killed. The third bears false witness and Johnny is sentenced to two years of manslaughter, abandoned by his baseball-struck father and seemingly minus a future. Up to here, it is all very possible and then-- two prison years are skipped (and that story potential is struck out). You can guess the rest--release, new name, new town, new job, new team, rediscovery, and a full pardon. This need not have been a baseball book by formula. As the formula goes, Mr. Bowen still tells a fast story.