Recently I had the chance to check out 2 great baseball books. They center around Mickey Tussler and the minor league Milwaukee Brewers. Manager Arthur “Murph” Murphy is looking for some new additions to his team and he is desperate. He happens to stumble across the home of the Tusslers and sees Mickey tossing applies into a barrel. He knows that he needs Mickey on his team, but his parents aren’t so sure they want him to leave with Murph. Mickey is autistic and while his father thinks he is the “r word” his mother is not sure how he will do on his own and also not sure how she will do on her own alone with Mickey’s father who really isn’t that kind to anyone. However, the two sides work out a deal and Murph takes Mickey to join the team. The team learns to work with him and figure out ways to get him to excel as a pitcher despite his autism. They are able to find ways for him to focus and tell him to just act like he’s tossing the apples in the barrel for his pet pig. Of course, not everyone is happy about the new whiz kid joining the team and Mickey does have to deal with some struggles.
In the second book, Sophomore Campaign, we don’t think that Mickey is
going to go back to playing ball after his first season. Somehow, Murph convinces him to give it another try and he ends up finding an african american player to join the team as a catcher. The books are set in the late 40s, so having african american players is something that is not common. Together, Mickey and his catcher help overcome the struggles that they are both facing since they are diffe
rent than everyone else on the team and rival teams as well.
I enjoyed both of these books. It was nice to read about an underdog that you could really root for and that everyone else (well, almost) was rooting for as well. It is sad that even today – those who are different are not treated the same and others automatically think it is bad or wrong that they are not the same as everyone else. Except that everyone has their own things that they are great at and you should respect them for that. I think the lessons learned in this book – even though it is set the late 40s – are lessons that can still be used and need to be learned today as well.
The book is the basis of a television movie – A Mile In His Shoes which came out in 2011 and stared Dean Cain. I haven’t gotten the chance to check the movie out yet, but I am definitely looking forward to watching it eventually.
I received free copies of these books in order to participate in the blog tour and post my reviews.
About the Books
The Legend of Mickey Tussler Book Summary:
In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.
Sophomore Campaign Book Summary:
It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.
Frank Nappi’s Bio:
Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel,The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story “A Mile in His Shoes” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, includingSophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.