Putnam, Sep 2002, 24.95, 352 pp.
Though he was one of the reasons the Mets won a hundred games and played in the post season, young fans either never heard of Showtime Charlie Stoddard or think of him as a phenom footnote. However, Charlie, who believed in two things, baseball and partying, hurt his arm in the '88 playoffs and never came back that is until now years later at the age of forty.
After years of boozing, womanizing, and gambling, Charlie meets therapist Chang who provides his aching arm with relief that feels so good the former pitcher makes a comeback with the Red Sox, who as usual are hurting in their run against the Yankees. As he returns to the mound, Charlie also tries to reconcile with his former wife who believes a continent may not be enough landmass between them. Charlie also makes an effort to reconcile with his son who loathes him. While laboring over straightening out his personal life, Charlie works hard on helping the Red Sox overcome the Killer Bs (the curse of the Babe and Buckner's Dent) that haunt New England.
Though the story line is evident from almost the start, sports fans will enjoy this amusing look at baseball, especially in light of the recent settlement. Charlie's injury will remind the boomers of the Bird, but his reaction is so different from Fidrych's contented return to his farm. Mike Lupica provides an entertaining tale that is a walk off home run winner except this reviewer from the Bronx points out that only in fiction could this ending occur.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner