Monday, February 22, 2010

After A False Spring, The Sundown

The failure of Pat Jordan's career as a professional baseball pitcher gave us one of the best baseball books ever written. A False Spring, Jordan's affecting account of his abortive pitching career, appeared in 1975 and quickly secured status as a sports classic. A few years ago, Sports Illustrated ranked it 37th among the 100 best sports books.

After the Sundown -- written four years after A False Spring -- is no classic. A minor work by a major player, it is a pleasing diversion. Its the difference between a sunny, Sunday afternoon and a pitcher with the good stuff rather than the great stuff. Yet what's important to remember -- it's still a sunny Sunday afternoon and someone is working carefully and competently for our pleasure.

After the Sundown is a series of profiles of former athletes: a pitcher (naturally), a race car driver, a football player. The game, if you will, has left each of these men behind, but they have not always been ready to leave it. Perhaps no writer is better equipped than Jordan -- a pitcher of great promise who never once stepped to the mound in the major leagues -- to tell these stories with empathy and understanding and grace.


Still reading: The Price of Love and Other Stories by Peter Robinson
Next up: To Hell on a Fast Horse by Mark Lee Gardner

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