From Publishers Weekly
A baseball seems like a small weapon with which to combat the myriad forces grinding down boys in the inner city. But in Muzikowski's hands, a baseball is mighty indeed. Muzikowski has sponsored four Little Leagues in the grittiest neighborhoods of Chicago and New York, and those leagues have changed perhaps even saved young ball players' lives. (Sound familiar? The movie Hardball, coming out September 14 with Keanu Reeves, is loosely based on Muzikowski's accomplishments.) In this ably written and moving memoir, Muzikowski tells the story of his faith in boys, in baseball diamonds and in God. The first half of the book gives us the pre-baseball Muzikowski, who grew up the Irish Catholic son of a factory worker in New Jersey. As a young adult, he entered business school, spent too much time drinking beer and snorting cocaine, became a born-again Protestant, got sober in AA, and married the lovely Tina. The second half of the book, in which Muzikowski finally recounts his time coaching, flags a bit. One wants to know more about Tina: does Bob's intense devotion to Little League strain their marriage? The eccentric urban characters the earnest ghetto kids and wizened drug dealers border on the caricature. Still, readers will be drawn in enough to cheer when Muzikowski's players graduate from school and tear up when they get gunned down. Muzikowski and coauthor Lewis offer a well-executed testimony to what an ordinary man with ordinary faith can do to change his corner of God's world.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Muzikowski is one of those rare individuals who caught a couple of breaks in life and has made it his business to pass his good fortune along to those less fortunate than himself. After beating booze and cocaine, he formed a successful insurance business and has become a patron saint to underfunded, sports-hungry Chicago youth. From coaching and fund-raising, to organizing bake sales to raise money for football equipment, to providing a temporary home for those in need, he either does it himself or enlists others to help. Muzikowski believes in sports as a learning venue and as a way to open doors for underprivileged kids. His story is genuinely inspiring, all the more so because he infuses it with self-deprecating humor and humility. His message is simple but profound: the world changes gradually through a series of good deeds by kind people. Excellent reading for those who despair of ever making a difference in this world. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved