Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel (Mickey Tussler, #2)

Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel (Mickey Tussler #2) by Frank Nappi

 

A word of warning to readers, this story takes place in 1949 and the author has used certain language, themes and events that may be offensive to some readers. He does state this at the start of his book.

 
After the loss of the Milwaukee Brewers to Chip Mcnally’s Rangers baseball team, Arthur Murphy‘s job as team manager is in jeopardy. He is given the task of getting star pitcher Mickey Tussler back to the pitching mound or he loses his job. After a stay in jail due to his choking of Lefty Rogers, a fellow pitcher with some issues of his own, 18-year-old mildly autistic Mickey Tussler has said that he will not play anymore and his mom Molly backs him completely. Murph‘s whole life has been about baseball and he will do everything he can to get Mickey playing again.

 
Murph has not told Mickey or his mother, Molly, about the ultimatum. He’s worried and while he has talked to them both about Mickey playing again, neither says yes. At the Harvest Fair, Mickey sees the milk bottle throw and wants to play. The crowd gathers as every shot he makes brings the bottles crashing down. First one then another of the crowd recognize Mickey. The crowd starts to chant, Mickey starts to remember how it felt to throw the baseball. When he is finished he tells his mother and Murph he wants to play again. Murph is safe!

 
The team starts coming back for their spring training. Pee Wee, Mickey’s best friend, is back and they pick their friendship up immediately. Danvers,Clem Finster, Ruby Winkler and the rest of the team are happy to be back, glad that Mickey’s back but when Boxcar, team captain and best catcher around, shows up they know somethings wrong. He is a shadow of his former self, tires easily and has lost several pounds. He insists nothings wrong, but they know better.

 
Murph makes a new deal with Dennison, the team owner. Murph wants to get a new backcatcher and knows exactly who he wants. He’s a phenom, works a few towns over and is available but there is one major problem. The owner points out the problem and refuses to allow Murph to hire him. Murph again puts his job on the line offering to quit if Lester Sledge is not all that Murph says he is.

 
The team had a hard enough time last season with Mickey’s oddities. Some of the players are still uncomfortable with him, but they know how valuable to the team he is. When Lester Sledge arrives the team is in shock! Learning to deal with Mickey was bad enough, Lester is a whole other kettle of fish. While they can see that he can play ball, they can also see the color of his skin, and it isn’t white.

 
As if the problems in their own team aren’t bad enough, the Rangers owner McNally and former Brewer pitcher now with the Rangers team, Lefty are hatching a plot to make sure that the Brewers team, specifically Mickey and Murph, don’t make it any where close to the finals. Murph adding Lester Sledge to the roster only adds to their hatred and desire to annihilate the team.

 

 

The baseball scenes are terrific, they make you feel you are right there in the dugout, out on the field or up to bat with the players. Some of true events have been moved around, time wise, but as its a fiction story, it works well. The characters are quite a mix of personalities, with some continuing on from the first novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, and some great new ones. The story is a nice even pace that keeps you turning pages. This novel can be read alone or as the second in the Mickey Tussler series.

 
This was a great character study of people and events in 1949 America, a great baseball story and good example of what can happen if you allow jealousy and hatred to overshadow your life.

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