Writer and musician Dave Bidini has uncovered a story that will make you feel good about being a sports fan again. Bidini, guitarist for the Rheostatics and author of Tropic of Hockey
, spends a season in picturesque Nettuno, Italy, with the local Serie B baseball team, the Peones, and reveals a spirit and attitude about sport long forgotten in North America. These Italian Bad News Bears have nicknames like Golden One, Skunk Bravo, and the Emperor, but the most interesting character is their manager, Pietro Monaco. An Italian baseball legend, Pietro has been infected by the game like a virus. His passion for the sport makes him a demanding taskmaster as he attempts to motivate a group of unpaid players who have little to gain--win or lose. He is the type of inspirational (and imperfect) figure one used to read about in old sports novels, and his story is the essence of Bidini's book.
At moments Bidini acts as travel guide, as he explores his temporary seaside home. At other times, Baseballissimo reads like a memoir of Bidini's own journey. Having spent his youth casting off his Italian roots, Bidini finds himself an outsider in his mother country, but as he rediscovers his love of baseball he also reconnects with his cultural heritage. Reviewing this book requires the kinds of cliches that would be banal in other circumstances but are unavoidable here. Heartwarming, inspirational, and touching, Baseballissimo delivers exactly what you'd expect from a book about young men playing a sport for no reward other than the love of the game. Readers will cheer the Peones because one never has to wonder what motivates them, or their Canadian friend. --Moe Berg
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About the Author
Author and musician Dave Bidini is the only person to have been nominated for a Gemini, Genie and Juno as well CBC's Canada Reads. A founding member of Rheostatics, he has written 10 books, including On a Cold Road, Tropic of Hockey, Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs, and Home and Away. He has made two Gemini Award-nominated documentaries and his play, the Five Hole Stories, was staged by One Yellow Rabbit Performance Company, touring the country in 2008. His third book, Baseballissimo, is being developed for the screen by Jay Baruchel, and, in 2010, he won his third National Magazine Award, for "Travels in Narnia." He writes a weekly column for the Saturday Post and, in 2011, he published his latest book, Writing Gordon Lightfoot.