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For Love of the Game by Michael Shaara

For Love of the Game (original 1991; edition 1992)

by Michael Shaara

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Title:For Love of the Game
Authors:Michael Shaara
Info:Carroll & Graf Publishers (1992), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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For Love of the Game by Michael Shaara (1991)



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Michael Shaara has written a touching story that combines true love with the poetry of baseball. His prose is stirring and beautiful. ( )
  meacoleman | May 1, 2013 |
When I learned that Michael Shaara's last novel,For Love of the Game, was a baseball story, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. The Killer Angels is one of those rare books I rate at 5 stars; I love it. This short (161 pages) baseball story, published after the author's death, is not in the same league (pardon the pun) as his Pulitzer Prize winner about Gettysburg. And it is very different in style. But in the end, I enjoyed most of it.

What goes on in the mind of a gtifted baseball pitcher during the course of a game? Welcome to 24+ hours in the life of aging major league pitcher Billy Chapel. Follow the stream of his thoughts from one evening to the next -- from the visiting team's hotel to the baseball diamond and through the course of an important game and its aftermath.

I liked the parts of this book that focused on baseball. The problem is that the other main storyline, if you want to call it that, was abiyt Billy's relationship with a woman named Carol -- a woman the reader actually meets only briefly, one we get to know mostly from Billy's thoughts. I didn't like Carol -- she seemed two dimensional and not particularly likeable -- and therefore I really didn't enjoy parts of the story dealing with her.

I also found the style -- pretty much Billy's stram of consciousness, and therefore rather abrupt and disjointed -- a bit off-putting at first. But the baseball writing grabbed me in the end, even drawing tears at one point.

The edition I read included a marvelous introduction by Jeff Shaara, who found this manuscript among his father's writings and had it published posthumously. ( )
  tymfos | Mar 25, 2011 |
It was Thanksgiving weekend, 1986, and Mike Shaara and I were crusing the east coast US1 trying to find a restaurant that was open. We drove around for about two hours before we went to his father's house, where he was wrapping things up for an estate sale. He mentioned he had a manuscript he called "Billy Boy" completed, but his timing was off as Malumud had just come out with "The Natural," and both were about a pitcher.
Well, one of the (many) things his son, Jeff, has done is get this ms published, and it shows Mike was still growing as a writer. It is arguably better than "Killer angels" in his use of prose.
Personally, I think Mike's best work was still before him, but as he often said he "cheated death" and was "living on borrowed time" anyway. He'd once been pronounced dead for more than half an hour.
The only "problem" with the book is one has to at least know how baseball is played, and it really helps if you have empathy for a pitcher who is about to pitch a no-hitter is a world series game. ( )
  andyray | Feb 13, 2008 |
"For Love Of The Game" was Michael Shaara's last book before he died. This novel is one hundred and fifty pages of pure quality baseball fiction. The plot spans the last game of Billy Chapel, a legendary pitcher headed for retirement and for the Hall of Fame. Chapel is unwilling to grow up and has seen the game change. He has aged, the owner of his team that had signed him and had recognized his value to the team has left, and he has decided to go out with a bang but without growing up. Chapel struggles to admit his love for a woman and to finally retire from the game of baseball. Shaara reveals to us his innermost thoughts between innings and his interactions with his teammates. This book is a masterful specimen of sports literature, and it's simply exquisite. The book is beautifully and skillfully written, the text so close to the game that one can almost smell the freshly cut grass and hear the pop of the ball in the catcher's glove. An avid baseball fan, I had to cry at the end of Chapel's heartwrenching journey in his quest for a perfect game and, ultimately, for finally growing up.
  Fuego48 | Feb 4, 2008 |
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Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;

Breath's a ware that will not keep.

Up, lad: when the journey's over

There'll be time enough to sleep.

-A.E. Housman
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Chapel checked into the usual hotel just after dark.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345408918, Mass Market Paperback)

Serious sports novels often fall through the literary cracks simply because of the arena they play in. Michael Shaara earned his battle stripes--and a Pulitzer Prize--for The Killer Angels, a fictional resurrection of the Battle of Gettysburg, as serious a subject as a writer can confront. Yet, it's no more profound, in the end, than the personal dilemmas protagonist Billy Chapel faces in this, Shaara's final novel, found stashed in a desk after his death and published posthumously.

A certain Hall of Famer, Chapel is a major-league anomaly, a contemporary throwback to another sporting era. He's pitched 17 stellar seasons for the same club, and his love of the game has remained paramount; neither money nor fame has been his motivation. But on the single day this story takes place, he finds himself in crisis. At the crossroads of his life, his career, and his future, he must make the hard choices that will define the direction of the rest of his life. It's the end of the season, his team's out of contention, there's a rumor he may have been traded, and the woman he can't fully acknowledge that he loves announces she's leaving him. It is, as he tells himself, "Time to grow up, Daydreamer." Still, he dreams, but he also acts. As Billy takes the mound for his final start of the year--and maybe forever--we enter his stream of consciousness, and rush with him over the sometimes treacherous rapids of what has preceded this moment, and what may come. Amazingly, though his mind seems to wander through time, his concentration is fierce. Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, he remains focused, honoring his job and his legacy as he pitches a masterpiece of mythic proportion, ultimately leaving the field more a man than when he took it. Using baseball to sound the depths of human experience, Shaara delivers a masterpiece, as well. --Jeff Silverman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Billy Chapel is a pitcher who has given his life to the game he loves so well; a man who has retained the endearing qualities of youth; the last of the greatcompetitors in his ranks. Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Shaara calls upon hisintimate knowledge of baseball to create this exciting novel about pride, the fear of aging, and the time when a man's character is defined by the choices he makes.… (more)

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