The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream Hardcover – Feb 25 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The Cape Cod Baseball League, which began in the 19th century as local entertainment for summer residents, has evolved into the jewel of American amateur baseball. Sanctioned by the NCAA, the league invites the best college players to come to breezy seaside communities to work on their game during what amounts to their off-seasonâ"late June through mid-Augustâ"without sacrificing their amateur status. And come they do, to one of the 10 teams sponsored by small towns and New England businesses, staffed by volunteers, the players hosted by local families and given day jobs as clerks, seafood haulers and day-camp counselors. Collins, a former editor of Yankee magazine and once a Dartmouth second baseman with dreams of the big leagues, brings a local historian's eye and the heart of a fan to a chronicle of one Cape Cod League team, the Chatham A's, during the 2002 season. He has produced a book that will be a treat to casual fans who might not know the process by which college players are courted by agentsâ"graded as to character, body type and bat speed, and then tagged with a price. Collins wisely focuses his story on a handful of the most promising Chatham players, most memorably Wake Forest's slugging third baseman Jamie D'Antona, an extremely likable nutcase, for whom readers will find themselves rooting hard. There is also the undersized Blake Hanan, the brainy Princeton righty Tom Pauly and the sphinxlike load of a pitcher, Tim Stauffer. Their crusty manager, John Schiffner, adds a little spice and tobacco juice to the mix. Along the way, readers will gain an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball, as it once was, in the heart of local communities.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Cape Cod Baseball League is not well known except to New Englanders and professional baseball scouts (one of every six major-league players competes in it). The summer league, which attracts many of the best collegiate and amateur players from around the country, provides young players an opportunity to play in a competitive environment while functioning as adults in a community. The players typically room with local families, hold jobs with local businesses, and become part of the fabric of local life. Despite the small-town atmosphere, there can be a great deal at stake. Collins, former editor of Yankee magazine and a former college player with major-league dreams, understands the league, the game, and the odd dynamic that exists when teammates are vying for a ticket on the first leg of the journey to the major leagues. His profiles of the players, coaches, and local citizens who come together in the Cape Cod League offers a captivating, timeless brew of scuffed baseballs, white sand, and pristine dreams. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
The writing is exceptional, the enthusiasm of the fans authentically represented, ... and the dreams, emotions and antics of 20 year olds during a summer on Cape Cod... well you will have to read it for yourself.
Jim Collins does a fabulous job bringing it all together -- the beauty of the Cape, the showcase of these outstanding college ball players, the presence of the scouts, the local volunteer power and commitment behind the league, and the best of baseball before many future stars become celebrities. We have always felt that the Cape Cod Baseball League is the "best" of baseball, but Mr. Collins adds so much more as to why it truly is the "last best league."
Hanan's experience is probably a descriptor of the entire league, for Cape Cod is where dreams and reality intersect. Many in the league will go on to the professional game, some even signing for huge bonuses with major league clubs, while others, such as Hanan, will find their hopes for the professional game dashed through a summer of intense competition.
As we learn more about each of these individuals, Collins paints an idyllic picture of small towns who bond with their hometown teams, of the crack of the wood bat as opposed to the ping of aluminum heard in the college game, and the purity of a game that is played for joy rather than for money and endorsements.
Enjoy The Last Best League! It is a true reading pleasure for any fan of the game!
But as the years have past, the memories have dimmed, until I read Jim Collin's book "The Last Best League"
I have to admit that I personally know many of the key characters, which alone would indicate that I should enjoy reading the story, but Jim's easy flow writing style invited me in and I didn't want to leave.
As bizarre as it may seem, as the story developed, I found myself totally absorbed as if I was actually there being a part of the scene. Whether it was in the dugout, at coach Schiffner's house discussing strategy or just walking around Chatham.
If you are a baseball fan this book is a must. It clearly takes the reader for a ride as the best college baseball players in the country begin to feel the pressure, as the competition mounts, and their dreams of playing major league baseball may either be achieved or shattered based on their summer's performance in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Thanks for the memories Jim - I enjoyed the ride
Most recent customer reviews
I love baseball and read a lot of books on the subject so don't tap me as a hater of baseball lit, but this book is beyond dull. Read morePublished on June 5 2006 by Brian Maitland
I worked for several years in baseball operations for two Major League Baseball franchises, and to this day, one of my greatest experiences was spending three weeks scouting at the... Read morePublished on July 13 2004
The author clearly loves his subjects: athletes with their chance to make it to the bigs. In particular, he loves baseball at its purist. Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by B. Jacobsen
Once in a very great while, someone sends baseball a great big valentine in book form (David Lamb's Stolen Season comes immediately to mind). Such it is with Collins' book. Read morePublished on May 28 2004 by D. Schubert
Jim Collin's book is THE most enjoyable sports book I have read in over a decade. Maybe it's the ephemeral beauty of a single Cape Cod summer, maybe it's the timeless coming of... Read morePublished on March 26 2004 by Christopher Daniell