Publication Date: April 27, 2012
In The Ball Player by Clay Snellgrove, a young athlete, who has made a lot of mistakes, feels survivor guilt for his friend’s death and an ever-greater guilt over his attraction to the late friend’s fiancée. The athlete also struggles with the mistakes he’s made in his career and his struggle to go back to playing in the major leagues.
The Amazon description calls forth baseball movies like “For the Love of the Game” and “Field of Dreams.” I found myself while reading this book, coming back to memories of reading Fannie Flagg and other contemporary southern authors. It has been a very long time since I read something of a more literary genre, so to do so was refreshing. This was a not a “who done it” but “why’d he do it” and sometimes there’s no “why other than that’s the way” the cards fall, so it becomes “how do we get back”?
The eponymous Ball Player in this novel is an imperfect being. He is weak and makes mistakes, but he also has a desire to come back. He shows us the great difficulty of success when one is young and trusting and not necessarily imbued with fabulous judgment. The character is very real in that he wants to improve, and he wants improvement for those he loves. He loves his friend, Danny, with whom he competes from the day they meet. The reality of things beyond our control dictates the future; it makes Danny someone we hope will make it to the next level, even though we know he will not.
The settings in this novel were perfectly described and easy to envision. This is not a long story, but the settings don’t suffer for brevity. Snellgrove’s style of writing is very straightforward. We’re sitting with a friend who needs to talk and we listen unwilling so to speak because we know only he can help himself.
There are some unrealistic points that leave the reader a little put off, but in being caught up in the flow, I found myself not really caring about the things that struck wrong. I found myself searching contemporary southern fiction on Google because I want the feeling that this book left me with sometime soon.
Is this review too dramatic? Probably. This is how this book has left me. Thinking about the past, and what I could have done differently and what I can do differently now. This read has it all—nostalgia, romance, sports and redemption.
Do you like those things and a little baseball for local color Then The Ball Player is the one for you. I can’t wait to share this one with my 66-year-old father. I do believe that this will be his book of the year.
You can an excerpt and buy The Ball Player by Clay Snellgrove on