A baseball player, a fisherman – young man looking for answers.
Perhaps no pursuits stir the passions of dreamers and poets like baseball and
fly fishing. For Nick Grimes, a small town kid with big dreams, these two pastimes and sports are more than pursuits of the soul, they are means to an end. Or so he thinks.
We first see Grimes as a talented pitcher and a cocksure young man with his sights firmly set on a Major League baseball career. With his blazing fastball he uses to zip past hitters, his destiny as a big league ballplayer seems inevitable. He’s barely out of high school when he signs a professional contract to pitch for the Detroit Tigers organization. But when the minor leagues prove to be tougher than what he bargained for, he finds himself out of baseball and learning life’s hard lessons.
Whether fishing for trout in the mountains of Pennsylvania or learning about love, Grimes is a young man chasing happiness, his place in the world. He’s a man who must live life on his own terms, but does he know what he really wants?
Rejecting conventional jobs, Grimes embarks on a different life, that of a fishing guide. But he’ll find happiness to be an elusive creature, and the people he meets along his remarkable life journey will teach him some of its most valuable lessons.
There’s the woman writer with her own dreams, her own ambitions, who captures Grimes’ heart. His father, who gave up his own dreams to remain a factory worker, and a pitching coach who sees something special in Grimes, urge him to take second chances. But perhaps the most unforgettable character is Sir, Jon, a mysterious fly fisherman leading a Thoreau-like existence in the mountains, who offers him life’s most important lesson. His brief encounters with Sir Jon are wake-up calls for the young man, and will provide readers with some of the most unforgettable moments of this remarkable story.
Nick Grimes will learn all about love and sex, death, despair and dashed dreams, but perhaps most of all, hope and rejuvenation.
With echoes of A River Runs Through It and The Rookie, this short novel by Mike Reuther goes beyond the coming-of-age story and will have have readers cheering, perhaps shedding a tear or two. Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic is the story of a young man chasing the American dream on baseball fields, on trout streams, in bar rooms. More than just another baseball book, it’s a fishing tale, a love story – a romance of the soul.
Usually, recollections of one’s first Major League Baseball game start with: “I remember the grass. It was so green, spread out like a dream across the vast landscape of the ballpark.” Or something like that.
I’ll always remember the lost drunk in the stands at Shea Stadium, the dazed look in his face, and the laughter of people who watched him wander and stumble around. It was an intrusion on the game, a reminder of how cruel, unfeeling people can be. I just wanted to get lost in the game. And I did.
There was Willie Mays, a boyhood hero, at the end of the line, hamming it up for the spectators in center field before the game. Willie was 41, spending the first of his final two seasons of his career with the Mets – more than a year before he’d fall down in center field in that World Series game trying to catch a fly ball. He wouldn’t play this day. Nor would Mets stars Cleon Jones, Rusty Staub and Bud Harrelson. Instead, I saw a junior varsity squad of Teddy Martinez, Dave Marshall, Lute Barnes and Brett Strom, a rookie right-hander forced to face down the might bats of the Big Red Machine – Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose.
Sure, I remember the big crowd at Shea that Saturday afternoon in August and how the Mets lost 5-0. Bench hit a home run. Of course he did. It was 1972, he was perhaps baseball’s most celebrated player that year. He swatted 40 homers in ’72 and went on to grab the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.
I remember the little things too: The ball rolling through Marshall’s legs in right field, Bench striking out and getting hit by a pitch, Morgan ranging far to his right for a ground ball, Reds third baseman Denis Menke deftly snaring yet another hard-hit groundball, the buzz of the crowd, the colors, the brilliant sunshine of an August day, the long bus ride into New York from central Pennsylvania.
I was fifteen when I saw my first Major League Baseball game.