Official Review: When Everyone Loved the Game by Jim Shawn

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Brendan Donaghy
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Official Review: When Everyone Loved the Game by Jim Shawn

Post by Brendan Donaghy » 29 Dec 2019, 08:43

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "When Everyone Loved the Game" by Jim Shawn.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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When Everyone Loved the Game is a work of fiction about baseball by Jim Shawn. The author describes the book as ‘A simple story, about a complicated game in a simpler time.’ The actual time of the story is never specified. The author wants his tale to exist in the decades when baseball was the top sport in the United States, rather than tying it down to any particular year.

This is a short novel of just over one hundred pages. Major-League baseball team Chicago Cubs are at the tail-end of their season with a real prospect of winning the National League East Division championship for the first time in their history. The story opens during a match against the Cardinals. If the Cubs win this, they are champions, otherwise, they must face the Cincinnati Reds in a winner-takes-all match in two days’ time. The game against the Cardinals is not going well for veteran pitcher Henry ‘Fast Ball’ Harvey. He is eventually removed from play by his coach and good friend Russ Freeman. The Cubs lose the match and head back to Chicago to prepare for their play-off match against the Reds.

Disappointed by the defeat and by the news he receives from Freeman after the game, Harvey decides to hire a car and drive home rather than take the plane with the rest of the team. He is joined in the car by teammates ‘Hooks’ Harrison and ‘Tonic’ Tisdale. The journey home takes a strange turn when they switch on the radio in the car and hear a breaking news story. It is a turn of events that may have serious consequences, not least for the championship aspirations of the Chicago Cubs.

This book’s strongest quality is its ability to evoke a time when baseball was a common bond shared by many. There are several scenes in which families, friends, and neighbors gather in homes or in bars to watch the game. It is a bond that unites both spectators and players. At one point, the three professional baseball players on their way home make a stop to watch a Little-League game. They may have combined incomes in the millions of dollars, the author seems to be saying, but they still get a kick from sitting down to eat hot dogs and watch kids in a small town playing baseball. This is something that goes beyond a shared interest in a particular sport. The author seems to be lamenting the loss of shared values too. He points out that this is a time when the national anthem before the game is treated as an important event because, he notes, in many communities ‘the lines separating love for country and love for the national pastime were blurred.’ The two elements come together in the Little-League Pledge, with its talk of trust in God, love of country, and respect for the law. Hearing it read out, Fast Ball Harvey wonders ‘when someone would file a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ban the pledge from the game.’

Aside from that aspect, there is little else going on in this novel. The story itself is a very simple one and revolves around a baseball game. The characters in the book are identified not so much by their personality as by their role in the world of baseball: the pitcher, the manager, the play-by-play radio announcer, the owner, the wife, and so on. There is no character development because the characters are not that important; baseball is the hero of this book. At some points, for page after page, the narrative is told through the commentator’s play-by-play account of the game. I suspect that even diehard baseball fans will find this tedious.

I am giving this novel 2 out of 4 stars. I am deducting stars because I think that the book’s appeal is very limited. On a positive note, the story can be read by anyone, as there are no swear words at all, not even of the mild variety. There are also no sexual references. The book has been professionally edited and I found only a couple of minor mistakes.

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When Everyone Loved the Game
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Post by Jaime Lync » 06 Jan 2020, 12:07

I used to love watching baseball in the early 2000s. I am from the Dominican Republic, where it is also seen as a big national sport. However, this does not seem like something I would read...baseball is great, but I think there should have been more character development... baseball is played by a diverse portfolio of players, especially after segregation.

Great review. Thanks for sharing.

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Post by esp1975 » 06 Jan 2020, 15:15

Since I am not a baseball fan, I don't think this would appeal to me in general. But it also bothers me when people write books on the theory that at some time in the past, we were all united around something, that we all had shared value. Because we didn't. It was just easier to hide from the truth and to pretend "we" all shared the same value.

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Post by Miller56 » 06 Jan 2020, 18:09

Thanks for the review. I am not sure this book has enough depth to it for me to enjoy. I think we all dream about what we feel was a simpler time, when baseball was considered America's past time. Things have changed or maybe with modern technology, the world is not so unified.
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Post by Sheila_Jay » 06 Jan 2020, 21:28

I am neither a fan of baseball nor a lover of fiction novels; so for now I will have to pass this one. Nonetheless, thank you for the well-written review.
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Post by kandscreeley » 06 Jan 2020, 21:48

I appreciate that there's no questionable content. However, baseball just isn't one of my passions. I have little interest in reading about it. It's nice that this evokes a simpler time. Thanks.
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Post by kdstrack » 07 Jan 2020, 21:23

I agree that this book would probably appeal to a limited audience. It does sound like a wholesome read, though. You did a great job analyzing the book. Thanks.

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Post by Brendan Donaghy » 13 Jan 2020, 07:58

esp1975 wrote:
06 Jan 2020, 15:15
Since I am not a baseball fan, I don't think this would appeal to me in general. But it also bothers me when people write books on the theory that at some time in the past, we were all united around something, that we all had shared value. Because we didn't. It was just easier to hide from the truth and to pretend "we" all shared the same value.
Jaime Lync wrote:
06 Jan 2020, 12:07
I used to love watching baseball in the early 2000s. I am from the Dominican Republic, where it is also seen as a big national sport. However, this does not seem like something I would read...baseball is great, but I think there should have been more character development... baseball is played by a diverse portfolio of players, especially after segregation.

Great review. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks very much for your comments!

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Brendan Donaghy
Posts: 752
Joined: 18 Jan 2019, 13:14
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Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-brendan-donaghy.html
Latest Review: Payback-Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett

Post by Brendan Donaghy » 13 Jan 2020, 08:00

Sheila_Jay wrote:
06 Jan 2020, 21:28
I am neither a fan of baseball nor a lover of fiction novels; so for now I will have to pass this one. Nonetheless, thank you for the well-written review.
kandscreeley wrote:
06 Jan 2020, 21:48
I appreciate that there's no questionable content. However, baseball just isn't one of my passions. I have little interest in reading about it. It's nice that this evokes a simpler time. Thanks.
Miller56 wrote:
06 Jan 2020, 18:09
Thanks for the review. I am not sure this book has enough depth to it for me to enjoy. I think we all dream about what we feel was a simpler time, when baseball was considered America's past time. Things have changed or maybe with modern technology, the world is not so unified.
Thanks for taking time to comment, much appreciated!

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