Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review of "Man Versus Ball"

The author of this book wrote to me asking if I would review his book on his "unique, often funny sports exploits."  I was certainly interested and I was glad I took him up on the offer as that was an accurate description of these stories, especially the "often funny."   Here is my review of "Man Versus Ball." 

“Man Versus Ball” by Jon Hart

Memoir, off-field, baseball, tennis, basketball, inline skating

May 31, 2014

184 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent)

When one thinks of a writer who participated in a sport in order to write about, many will think of George Plimpton, who famously took the field and ice with the Detroit Lions and Boston Bruins respectively in order to write about his experiences.   Jon Hart does that and so much more in his very funny and sometimes poignant book “Man Versus Ball.” 

The reference to Plimpton is appropriate here because that is Hart’s nickname in the first story in which he is a member of a semi-pro football team.  While his playing time is sparse, his stories about that season are rich with humor and personal interest stories.   That is a good foundation for the rest of the book, which has more stories of Hart’s time as a ballpark vendor, a mascot, a ball boy at the US Open (which contained the best line in the book – “No, Toto, this isn’t Court 18 anymore!”), and a participant in a game that was a cross between in-line skating and basketball.  I read that chapter twice and I still don’t understand that game.

Having been a vendor at major and minor league ballparks and arenas, Hart’s stories as a vendor at both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium struck a chord with me as I could relate to practically every situation, every interaction with both fans and coworkers and the quirks that make up the profession of the ballpark vendor.  I look back on those days fondly, and Hart’s stories about those adventures brought back some great memories. 

If there is a negative about the book, it was that I just couldn’t get into the inline basketball league, but that too was a funny piece that those who are into in-line skating would really enjoy. It didn’t diminish from the quality of this book, which was excellent.  It is a great book for readers who enjoy sports stories off the field of play and for those who enjoy humor or comedy.  

I wish to thank Mr. Hart for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
It read quickly as the stories were not only entertaining, they were broken up into shorter segments that made the pace of the book much quicker.

Do I recommend? 
This is recommended for not only sports fans, but anyone who likes to read humorous stories or memoirs.

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