Tag Archives: Baseball

Wiley Cash. This Dark Road to Mercy. New York: William Morrow, 2014.

dark roadEaster Quillby is twelve, but she has already made up her mind about her dad, Wade: he is the loser that her mom always said he was. Wade was a professional baseball player, a pitcher, but he never made it to the major leagues and he has drifted ever since. Robert Pruitt is an ex-ballplayer too. He’s a hard man–brought up by a sadistic dad, he’s been a drug dealer and now he’s an ex-con who works as a bouncer at the Tomcat bar just outside Gastonia. And he knows what he thinks about Wade: Wade beaned him a ballgame, disfiguring him and ending his baseball career. Wade ruined his life, and Pruitt would do anything to ruin Wade’s. Brady Weller doesn’t know what to think about Wade. Brady is the guardian ad litem for Easter and her little sister Ruby–someone assigned by the courts to watch out for their best interests after their mother died from a drug overdose.

As This Dark Road to Mercy opens, Wade reappears in Easter and Ruby’s lives. He has heard that their mother died, and he thinks that he and the girls can be a family again. But it’s not just his ex-wife’s death that has spurred Wade into action. He has a stash of money–money that he stole from the original thief. With this stake, he thinks he can start anew–with the girls, and in a new place. Wade easily spirits his daughters away from the group home where they’ve been living, but before long both Pruitt and Weller are on his trail.  The action moves from Gastonia to the coast, down to Myrtle Beach, and then on to St. Louis, where a pivotal scene takes place. At times the book reads like a road-trip novel and Easter’s occasional narration adds humor, but this is a novel about serious issues: the ties of family, the darkness of the human heart, and the hope that many people have that they can outrun their past. Cash mixes in references to North Carolina minor league baseball teams, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race of 1998, and echoes of the 1997 armored car robbery that occurred in Gaston County, all of which clearly center his story in time and place. This Dark Road to Mercy is hard to categorize but easy to enjoy.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Cash, Wiley, Gaston, Piedmont

James Bailey. The Greatest Show on Dirt. United States: Publisher unknown, 2012.

The main character in this novel, Lane Hamilton, is a twenty-something escapee from corporate banking.  A high school buddy, Rich, gets Lane a job with the Durham Bulls.  Rich is a bit of a bad boy, and while he shows Lane the ins-and-outs of his new job, he also clues in Lane about the fun to be had at the ballpark.  Readers are introduced to the world of minor league baseball: the stat sheets that are prepared for reporters who cover games, the difficult job of removing the tarp that protects the infield, grooming the pitcher’s mound, who hangs out with whom after the games.  A series of clubhouse thefts add an element of mystery to the novel, but the focus is on Lane–how he balances fun with work, extricates himself from one romance and finds another, learns to work with a variety of people, and figures out what success means for him.  James Bailey has written a book that is rich with insider information on the day-to-day operations of minor league baseball and the quirks and concerns of players and other ballpark employees. Readers who attended games at the Durham Athletic Park, or who lived in Durham before 2000, will particularly enjoy the details and local color that enrich this book.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Bailey, James, Durham, Piedmont