Books — Swinging for the Majors

Swinging for the Majors

By Robert Greene

Book scores a triple

Hippo artist, UL pen team up on Swinging for the Majors

Swinging for the Majors: Inside the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Championship Season, by Michael Cousineau, Plaidswede Publishing 2005, 204 pages.

As a rule, I like stories about baseball better than I like baseball itself. I can’t catch, I can’t throw straight and I was way too nearsighted in my formative years to develop much of an eye for the strike zone. Still, growing up, Bernard Malamud’s The Natural was one of my favorite books and I loved Jane Leavy’s 2002 book on Sandy Koufax.

See, I played baseball for a number of years as a kid — right field mostly — and I loved it. I loved the smell of newly mowed grass and the oil I religiously rubbed into my second-hand glove every week. (I may have been a bench warmer, but I had a well-conditioned baseball glove, I tell you what. It was the envy of many a kid.)

If there is a heaven, I bet there is a baseball field there. In that great beyond, our heroes past and present are playing in front of stands filled with smiling families — and no one has heard or remembers the word “steroid” or “players’ strike.”

So, even though Swinging for the Majors was written by a Union Leader guy, sportswriter Michael Cousineau, I was prepared to enjoy it. After all, the book’s cover was illustrated by none other than the Hippo’s own Peter Noonan.

And I did enjoy it. Cousineau is a solid writer and he did what most folks only dream about: hang out with a winning baseball team for an entire season. He went to spring training. He went to the games. He talked to the players, the owners and the fans. Bliss!

Better yet, he caught the F-Cats at their 2004 best, right out of the gate and championship-bound. The Red Sox are great and all, but these guys are our next-door neighbors.

Swinging for the Majors, available at Barnes & Noble, can be dry at times. And it is not the sort of book that baseball buffs in Florida will pick up, but it ought to be in every New Hampshire fan’s bookcase.

- Robert Greene

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH