by James A. Landry
Lettra Press LLC

"I hung a knuckle-Curve a little too high for too long against a big hitter."

Art Costello is the epitome of a doting father. When he finally has a son after two daughters who make a sport of going at each other, he fuels Sammy’s passion for baseball with the help of his friends: All-Star pitchers Sam McDowell and Tom Seaver. Sammy, named after McDowell, excels at every position. But it does not take long for Sammy to showcase his unique arm and repertoire of pitches, particularly his ability to pronate (rotate) his hand and forearm to deceive opposing hitters.

From its mentions of prominent knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield to Dodgers’ sensation Hideo Nomo’s whirling delivery, this book will make baseball enthusiasts feel right at home. Baseball history is on full display with references to change-up maestro Stu Miller in the 1950s and 1960s. Many underlying storylines are sure to resonate in today’s 21st-century society—from crossing family boundaries to protecting the age-old conversation of player safety versus the sanctity of the game.

Seeing the progression from a little leaguer on the Kiwanis to the "Show" is enjoyable, but the addition of more dialogue among the characters would have enhanced the story. We still see, though, a brewing, beautiful friendship and on-field partnership between Sammy and his catcher, Jimmy, that sees them dominate little league baseball. As Jimmy and Sammy progress toward the big leagues, Landry provides an in-depth analysis of every nuanced pitch, from the split-finger fastball and the forkball to the screwball and slider. Without seamless communication between a catcher and a pitcher, the game does not take long to unravel. Sammy’s trajectory to stardom—especially his ability to pronate pitches—encounters hurdles, as life is accustomed to provide on the road to success. Nevertheless, Landry’s prose, combined with his ability to simplify complex baseball terms, should allow even a baseball layperson to appreciate the story.

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