If you are a baseball fan, science fiction fan and history buff then “If I Never Get Back” by Darryl Brock is the book for you.
Sam Fowler, a washed up reporter with a failing marriage and a definite liking for adult beverages, is transported from present day San Francisco to post Civil War America of 1869 where he eventually connects with the first great professional baseball team – The Cincinnati Red Stockings. Fowler does have some limited baseball skills that allow him to connect with the team and become part of the roster.
Brock weaves into the story the very real members of the team such as George and Harry Wright, Asa Brainard, Cal McVey and the rest of the players. You will find yourself constantly accessing Baseball Reference to see just who did what. Brock has created a blend of historical fiction that centers around baseball, but is not just about baseball. You get a feel for that age as Brock brings it to life.
I am passionate about old time baseball and Brock displays superb skill at bringing that era to life. The way the game was played, the style of pitching, the fielding, base running and hitting. The Reds travel the nation as a touring team and you are with them as is Fowler as a scrub player.
The book is not just baseball. Even Mark Twain and Jesse James are brought into the plot line as is a love interest for Sam. You have adventure, danger, humor, baseball, time travel, friendships, rivalries, manipulation, and the ever present detail of daily life in this book. Brock , a history teacher, gives you that feeling of being there from riding the rails, taking a buggy ride or experiencing the cities of the time. A travel guide across America of 1869.
As my favorites go in baseball reading this is the one for me. A great read!
P.S. Skip the follow-up.