A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist follows an embattled Little League team in inner-city Newark, revealing the complex realities of life in one of America’s most dangerous cities
When Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark’s rough South Ward, was shot and paralyzed, he vowed to turn his life around. A former high-school pitching ace with a 93 mph fastball, Mason decided to form a Little League team to help boys avoid the street life that had claimed his youth and mobility. Predictably, the players struggle—they endure poverty, unstable family lives with few positive male role models, failing schools, and dangerous neighborhoods—but through the fists and tears, lopsided losses and rare victories, this bunch of misfits becomes a team, and in doing so gives the community something to root for. With in-depth reporting, fascinating characters, and vivid prose, Jonathan Schuppe’s book is both a penetrating, true-to-life portrait of what’s at stake for kids growing up poor in America’s inner cities and a portrait of Newark itself, a struggling city that has recently known great hope as well as failure.
Nominee, PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
New Jersey Council for the Humanities NJ350 History & Culture Book Award
J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award (Columbia Journalism School/Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University)
A drive-by gunman's bullet left Rodney Mason a paraplegic more than a decade ago. After a long depression, he emerged from his shell to create and coach a little league baseball team Newark. Now he's a role model to a rag tag bunch of kids.
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