From Hard Times to Home Runs

from hardships to championships_hresGood Sports: From Hardships to Championships
By Glenn Stout
(Sandpiper, 2013, Boston, $5.99)

Professional sports have long promised success to talented kids from humble backgrounds. For them, an athletic career means not only wealth and fame, but a chance to build a better life for themselves and their families.

In Good Sports: From Hardships to Championships, Glenn Stout profiles five baseball players who overcame poverty, dysfunctional families, poor choices, and mental illness to join the big leagues. His subjects span much of baseball history, ranging from legend Babe Ruth to contemporary star Torii Hunter. Readers need not know much about baseball to enjoy From Hardships to Championships: Stout’s narratives should engage both ardent fans and those with little interest in the game. Among the book’s most gripping chapters are those that describe Jimmy Piersall’s painful battle with bipolar disorder and Ron LeFlore’s miraculous discovery in a Michigan prison. In all cases, their love of baseball compelled the men to work hard and make good choices.

Both spectators and athletes want their team to win. In From Hardships to Championships, Stout reminds kids – and adults – that hitting a home run or winning the World Series is only one triumph. The biggest victory may be getting to play in the first place.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

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