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For the Love of the Game    by Michael Shaara order for
For the Love of the Game
by Michael Shaara
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 1999 (1991)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

I've pulled from my bookshelf a novel to honor Michael Shaara, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Killer Angels, about the Battle of Gettysburg. For the Love of the Game was his last novel, published posthumously, and made into a movie starring Kevin Costner. Michael's son, Jeff Shaara, discovered the baseball manuscript after his father's untimely death in 1988.

This is a lyrical novella, the moving account of a baseball player's career. For seventeen-years, pitcher Billy Chapel has been loyal to one team in the majors - the Hawks. The night before the last of two games for the season, Billy waits in his hotel room for his friend of four years, Carol Grey. Carol does not show up, unusual for her, and Billy is concerned. The front desk calls Billy's room about a visitor, sportscaster D.B. Ross, who needs to see the pitcher urgently. Ross has learned from a source that Billy is being traded. A betrayal - after so many years of loyalty. The next day, Billy pitches the entire game, a shutout, while shuffling back and forth in his memories of days gone by, and reflecting on the decision that he will be 'going home' versus accepting the trade.

Jeff Shaara wrote the Introduction to For the Love of the Game. Michael Shaara published seventy short stories, award-winning science fiction, and novels including The Broken Place, The Herald, The Noah Conspiracy, and Soldier Boy. Of his father, Jeff says, 'he understood that baseball is a part of all of us, and will always be. He understood the purity of the game, the simple and the complex, and he understood that no matter how often the game changes, or how many records fall, we will still be there, still watching, for the love of the game.'

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