The Last Natural: Bryce Harper’s Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever

Rob Miech. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-00145-0
In 2010, baseball phenom Bryce Harper—with his parents’ blessing—earned his G.E.D. and joined the College of Southern Nevada’s baseball team as a sophomore, using it as a springboard to get drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals). It was a risk, but a calculated one. Aside from displaying his otherworldly talents in a competitive conference, the 17-year-old was managed by Tim Chambers, a longtime family friend, and played with his older brother, Bryan, a pitcher who had transferred from California State University, Northridge. Both helped contribute to a familial, supportive environment. Veteran sportswriter Miech traveled with the college team for the entire 2010 season, and he captures Harper’s maturation by fire and growing celebrity. Those moments don’t come often enough. Clearly guarded, Harper isn’t exactly an eloquent subject (“It’s just incredible playing with your brother and being around your brother”), while Miech’s constant flaunting of his insider status—the pointless on-the-road chronicles, the skin-deep, distracting profiles of Harper’s teammates and coaches—becomes overbearing. Years from now, the book may be useful in viewing a legend before he was submerged by the avalanche of fame, but readers will still leave with a better understanding of a dedicated junior college baseball team than its superstar alumnus. Eight page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. Agent: David Patterson. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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