An intriguing character study about Mickey Tussler, a 17 year old young man, trapped on a small farm with his mother and a very abusive father. Mickey exhibits what today would be called autism. Unfortunately, back in the 1940's when this story is set Mickey is viewed much differently.
Enter, completely by accident, Arthur Murphy, the manager of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, a farm team of the Boston Braves. A baseball lifer, Murphy is on a scouting trip to see a young phenom he hopes will be the missing player to ignite his mediocre team.
After watching Mickey toss apples into a basket target, to get them ready for Oscar the pig to eat, Murphy decides to take Mickey back with him and try him out as a pitcher.
This is a fun read, full of old timey baseball cliches, several us vs them subplots and the excitement of a pennant race.
Unfortunately it pales by comparison to other period baseball books. It would be a great YA novel, but it contains some grapic sex and violence that make it inappropriate for younger teens. Some of the plot devices were passable at best, including Murph's ongoing relationships with Mickey's parents. I liked the ending (hokey though it was) mainly because by the time I read it I was expecting a written by the numbers outcome. It was not and provided a surprise twist that I didn't see coming.
So I liked it, but wished it could have been executed a little better.
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