Chasing the Big Leagues
139 pages

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139 pages

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Three years after earning a full-ride baseball scholarship to Ohio State, "Golden" Jake Standen has burned out. Working as a furniture mover and bouncing between meaningless relationships, he's convinced that his baseball dreams are over. But after the 1994 Major League Baseball strike prematurely ends the season, the playoffs, and even the World Series, Jake is about to get his lucky break. Strike be damned, the owners will have a team for the '95 season, even if they have to open tryouts and spring training to anyone who can hit or throw the ball.

After scoring contracts for the Toronto Blue Jays, Jake, his best friend Brian Sloan, and an unlikely cast of new teammates have just six weeks to learn how to play like never before, amid a slowly building crescendo of public curiosity, media scrutiny, and a labor dispute that could put them on the field come Opening Day—or dash their dreams at any minute. Based on the true stories of the 1994–95 replacement players, Chasing the Big Leagues is an exciting novel about shared dreams and competing interests, best friends and second chances, growing up and finding love.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 avril 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253038937
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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the Big Leagues
Series editor, Michael Martone
the Big Leagues
Indiana University Press
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2019 by Brett Baker
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Baker, Brett, author.
Title: Chasing the big leagues / Brett Baker.
Description: Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press, [2019] | Series: Break away books
Identifiers: LCCN 2018055194 (print) | LCCN 2019002282 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253038951 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253038920 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Baseball stories.
Classification: LCC PS3602.A58488 (ebook) | LCC PS3602.A58488 C43 2019 (print) | DDC 813/.6-dc23
LC record available at
ISBN 978-0-253-03892-0 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-253-03895-1 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
Rights to Diana Might courtesy of John Schwab and Will Toney.
This novel is dedicated to the
who taught me how to love the game of baseball
even before they taught me how to play it.
Chasing the Big Leagues
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL OF THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE who offered me help and encouragement over the many years I needed to finish this novel, including Matthew Miller, Michael Mejia, and my family, both immediate and extended, for being there in the early years when support was hard to come by; Sandy Huss, Dr. Richard McGraw, Dr. Dwight Eddins and Dr. Ralph Voss for their insistence that there was a novel in this story; Eric McPherson and Mark Brobston for being dedicated readers and decades-long friends; Rick Brown for his generous technical support; Angelique Dunn and Carol McGillivray at Amnet Systems, as well as Ashley Runyon, Peggy Solic, Rachel Rosolina, Michelle Sybert, and Dave Hulsey (and the entire team) at Indiana University Press for their tireless effort and attention; and Melinda Castillo for her typo hunting, her Spanish expertise, and the adventure of a lifetime. Finally, a special thank you to Michael Martone, the kind of friend and mentor every writer should be fortunate enough to find.
the Big Leagues
I HATE THE WORD SCAB -ALWAYS HAVE. IT SOUNDS LIKE THE noise your cleats make when you walk across gravel. A scab is something hard and ugly, something nobody wants, but when you got to have one, you got to have one. I never thought of us as scabs and I wouldn t want you to think that either. I guess that s what got me started going through my old notes, reading what I wrote back then, five years ago now though it feels like maybe a week. I know I didn t get everything down, so I ll try to fill in some of the blanks, stuff I remember but I didn t think was important then or I just didn t have time to put down the first time.
Can t say for sure why I think it still matters. Everyone else has pretty much forgotten. Still, I want to get down on paper what it felt like to be there with all the excitement and confusion. I want you to know how important it all seemed at the time, no matter how dumb it probably sounds now. You know that old saw, The best you can do is the best you can do ? Mostly I just want you to understand that, if this was the best we could do, we made damn certain that it was us at our best.
You might ask how I can still recall so much about things that happened all those years ago but the funny thing is, I ve never tried to remember. I just can t seem to forget. You might also wonder what difference it makes. How can writing about it now change anything from back then? The short answers are: none and it can t. But it might make a difference for you, in how you see and think about us. And maybe writing it down will make a difference for me, too. Or maybe, if it s true what they say-that the older you get, the better you were-then maybe I just want to revisit one more time that glorious season when my best friend and I made it to the very top of the world, that sterling silver spring when the two of us made it all the way to The Show.
One hundred years ago today George Herman Ruth came into this world. If Ty Cobb epitomized the ideal baseball player at the turn of the twentieth century, then Babe Ruth arrived representing everything a ballplayer shouldn t be. He drank and smoked; he was a womanizer, a showboat, a prima donna. And yet people loved him. Newspapers of the time carried special articles on the sports page entitled What the Bambino Did Today right beside the box scores. He single-handedly changed our national pastime from Cobb s small-ball, one-base-at-a-time game into tape measure home runs and victory laps around the field. Ruth hit more dingers, appeared in more movies and advertisements, made more money, ate, drank, cussed, laughed and screwed more than anybody thought a ballplayer should, or even could. He was a media darling before the advent of TV or radio. He was a rock star before there was rock. In short, Babe Ruth was The Shit.
Ninety-nine years, six months and six days after the Bambino s birth, Major League players collectively decided that they too were The Shit. On August 12 last year the players union declared a strike, and they haven t played a Major League game since. The Great Depression, two world wars, even an earthquake weren t enough to stop the World Series but last October they decided to skip it, all because of a labor dispute.
As a result, the suits who own the Major League teams voted last month to start the 95 season with replacements. It seems like a sorry little ploy to get the union players to back down, or maybe make a few bucks back from all the dough they ve lost since the strike started. Whatever the reason, Major League scouts have been crossing the country trying to pull teams together so they can hold spring training like usual this March.
Of course, the union players, along with the media, most of the fans, several coaches and even one owner have all gone on record saying the idea sucks. Replacement baseball, they say, simply cannot be allowed to happen. The Toronto Blue Jays radio network has already announced that they won t broadcast any replacement games. Tom Cheek, who s been calling their games on radio since the Jays broke into the league in 77, told a Toronto newspaper that he ll return to the microphone, and I quote, when Ed Sprague, not some furniture mover from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is playing third base.
Word gets around fast. I only found out myself last Saturday. Chris Buckley, a talent scout for the Jays, called to tell me they liked my tryout. They want me at third when spring camp opens in three weeks. So I guess Tom Cheek was talking about me. And yes, I have been moving furniture the last three years since college. But I m not from Oshkosh, Mr. Cheek. I m from Columbus, Ohio. And I have a name, sir: Jonathan Alders Standen.
Please, call me Jake. Everybody does.
The game has gone to shit, I remember Tall Boy saying one night at his place. And you and I are the toilet paper.
It s your own fault, I reminded him as he carried dirty dishes to where Karen stood at the sink. If you hadn t hit those dingers in the semis, none of this would be necessary.
Senior year our high school team made it to the state tournament. Though we lost by a run in the semifinal to a team from Dayton that we should have crushed, the Minnesota Twins drafted our star shortstop, Brian Tall Boy Sloan, one week after graduation.
Don t start with me. Brian set the dishes in the sink and stood beside his wife. You know who wears the pants in my family.
The Blue Jays called Tall Boy when they first started looking for replacements. Karen was the one who suggested I go along to the tryout. Suggested is maybe the wrong word. Karen is what you d call a strong-willed woman, the kind who, even at seven and a half months pregnant, gets indignant when her dinner guest offers to do the dishes.
You brought the wine, she said, and held up a finger when I tried to protest.
I sipped my drink in silence a moment, watching Brian rub his wife s shoulders. She closed her eyes and leaned into the massage, a dishrag dripping in her hand.
It was also Karen who answered the phone when the Jays first called. In Tall Boy s version of the story, she had already booked a hotel room five blocks from the tryout complex in Cleveland before she got around to telling him about it. In Karen s version, Brian asked about the details four times (What exactly did they say? Did they sound serious?) before he agreed to go.
We ve been down this road before, Karen said, turning back to the sink of dishes. I know it would have eaten at Brian if he didn t at least give it one more chance.
We don t talk about it much anymore: about how Tall Boy had already started dominating double-A ball in the Twins farm system by the time I d used up my eligibility at Ohio State; about how that same summer his little brother went out ridin

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