Strike Zone

Jim Bouton, Author, Eliot Asinof, With
Jim Bouton, Author, Eliot Asinof, With Viking Books $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-85214-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-451-18334-7
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It's the last day of the baseball season at beautiful Wrigley Field. The Phillies and Cubs are all tied up; the final game will determine who makes the playoffs. It's also the last game for 60-year-old umpire Ernie Kolacka, who is due to retire. But an old friend has just pleaded with Kolacka to repay a debt of honor incurred during the Korean War; by doing so, he will ensure a Cubs loss--and make $200,000 along the way. Kolacka's ``victim'' will be Cub pitcher Sam Ward, a 32-year-old rookie knuckleballer who's as flaky as his favorite pitch. Though opposites in many respects, Ward and Kolacka have a lot in common: their love of the sport; their single-minded pursuit of their major league dream; their fading marriages. Inning by inning, with balks, ejections and called third strikes, Kolacka steadfastly repays his debt, until the game goes to the top of the ninth. The Cubs lead 5-4, but the Phillies have the bases loaded, the count is 3-2 with the most important pitch of the season on the way--and Sam Ward is about to save Ernie Kolacka's soul. This inspired collaboration melds the humor of Bouton's Ball Four and the darkness of Asinof's Eight Men Out . It's an exciting read with an ending that will make fans stand up and cheer. 75,000 first printing; $75,000 marketing campaign; author tour. (June)
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