A diary of the 1990 minor-league season, written by Fireovid, the minor's winningest pitcher in the 1980's, and edited by Winegardner (Prophet of the Sandlots, 1989; Elvis Presley Boulevard, 1987). Despite a good record, Fireovid has enjoyed only a few brief stints in the majors. As 1990 rolls around, the situation looks worse than ever: He is now 33, ``a fossil in my present environment.'' Much of the diary thus consists of laments over his lot as a minor-league pro rather than major-league prospect. But, in Fireovid's case at least, 13 years in pro ball bring with them impressive maturity and insight. His complaints are gentle, his envy muted by an appreciation of how lucky he is to be playing ball at all. This man loves his sport, and most of the pleasure here comes from his notes on the ups and downs of baseball life on and off the diamond—why no pitcher wants to be on the mound the day his teammates receive their new bat shipment (``they swing their toys at any pitch that comes within an area code of the strike zone'') or what it's like to hump around America on a minor-league budget (travel by bus, hotels without air conditioning, etc.). The season crawls along almost unnoticed; it's the sidebars—offers to coach in the Montreal organization or to play ball in Italy, efforts to keep an aging body fit—that sparkle. At season's end, Fireovid winds up with the second-best ERA in the league (2.63) and a losing record (10-12). What does 1991 portend? Another six months playing a young man's game—and some accolades for that rarity, a baseball book unblemished by egomania.

Pub Date: July 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-538381-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991



A new convert to the game of football, Oppenheimer (Private Demons, 1988) decided to observe, record, and analyze the daily activity of her son's 1988 Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School team. Like the team's season, the results are mixed. Toby, senior offensive lineman in only his second year, didn't like the idea: ``What seventeen-year-old wants his mother hanging around a locker room?'' The BCC Barons and head coach Pete White, meanwhile, felt there was reason for optimism despite going 5-5 in 1987, their best record in years. ``Win 8 in '88 and go to state!'' was the battle cry. The talent at this ethnically diverse, affluent suburban school included a 300-lb. center, a 5'-6'' Korean linebacker, a swift Jamaican running back, and an assortment of blacks, Asians, and white kids more inclined toward soccer. It wasn't always a comfortable mix. As Oppenheimer follows their progress, she scrutinizes their attitudes toward one another and the coaches, toward winning and losing, their sex lives, and their use of drugs and alcohol. Fighting off her own anxieties—``Zen and the art of football parenting''—about her son, she rarely inserts herself in the picture but allows the boys to speak in their own, often inarticulate, tiresome way: But I'm, like, okay, so I go, and he goes.... There's a disappointing opening game; a racist coach (``black kids...were more arrogant, tougher, meaner''); a bitter, injury-rife, one-point loss to rival Einstein; the boys' cockiness following the homecoming victory; and, finally, the season-ending trouncing at the hands of ``mammoth, untouchable, abandon-all-hope'' Gaithersburg. The annual banquet, despite the 4-6 record, would toast individual achievements and look toward next year. At times self-conscious and shrill (the locker room, ``a place for the ancient rites of grabass'') and at other times perceptive, but Oppenheimer never quite puts it all together. Rather like missing the point after.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-68754-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991


The slight story of big-girl Reece, the 6'3', 170-lb. model and captain of Nike's Women's Beach Volleyball Team. In chapters that alternate between Reece's first-person account and co-author and novelist Karbo's (Trespassers Welcome Here, 1989) description of one not-too-successful summer on the pro beach volleyball tour, we learn both more and less than we'd like about the stunning athlete. Her mother, a circus dolphin trainer, left her with friends from the age of two until the age of seven. Reclaimed by her newly remarried mother, Reece (already five feet tall) began a somewhat peripatetic existence, moving from Long Island to St. Thomas, back to New York, and then to Florida over the next ten years. Reece began playing volleyball and modeling seriously in college, but she felt her modeling career was on the decline by the time she was 21; she stood out too much in a business that required a more chameleon-like look from its supermodels. And she discovered that volleyball was more satisfying than modeling. The only thing she yearns for in her pro ball career is a first-place finish for her team, something Nike has not yet accomplished. The book is an easy read, although the insights are limited (``Using sex as a tool is a sure way for a woman to fail to command respect'') and the life described not remarkably eventful (Reece is only 26 years old). The sports scenes also leave something to be desired, as in the description of the climactic game against the Paul Mitchell team (Hair vs. Shoes). Two-plus pages of ``NIKE 10 serving 7. NIKE—net violation. Side out. Paul Mitchell 7 serving 10. Point, Paul Mitchell 8-10. Side out'' can get a little tiresome. Not much appeal beyond the hardcore beach volleyball enthusiasts set. (16 pages color photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-517-70835-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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