Man Who Once Played Catch with Nellie Fo

John Manderino, Author
John Manderino, Author Academy Chicago Publishers $22.5 (264p) ISBN 978-0-89733-448-8
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-0-89733-771-7
Paperback - 262 pages - 978-0-89733-597-3
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-0-89733-773-1
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-1-306-73260-4
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After chasing his dreams around the minor leagues for years, Hank Lingerman, the aptly named, 40-year-old Chicagoan hero of this winsome, workaday novel, has wound up working in the Sunoco Station his father once owned and living on canned soup and tuna. He also plays for a grocery store-sponsored adult league team. Baseball, for Hank, is the only thing that defines him, but not in the philosophical or mystical sense. Rather, it is playing the game that he loves, actually being part of something that he always aspired to master. When a pop-up comes down and bops him on the head, Hank admits that his life has gone into a slump from which he may never recover. Taking up with Mary, a nose-ringed, teenage disco pick-up, Hank dumps his goodhearted, longtime girlfriend, gets into a fight at his favorite saloon, blows a big game and comes home to discover that Mary has stolen his TV and his Nellie Fox autograph. Things go downhill from there. This rambling account of the middle-aged crazies rarely rises above the mundane. Hank's menopausal angst--which centers on his recollection of one moment of greatness, the day he met and had a brief catch with Fox--hangs over the entire novel like a low-pressure system. Yet even these faults and a predictable ending can't detract from what, like the hapless Chicago Cubs, Manderino's (Sam and His Brother Len) characters possess: miles and miles of heart. (May)
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