The Long Ball: The Summer of ’75—Spaceman, Catfish, Charlie Hustle, and the Greatest World Series Ever Played

(2003, Little Brown)

This is a non-fiction baseball book written as “Tom Adelman.” This was written after my Camden Joy work. It is the story of the 1975 season, with an emphasis on the players, teams, and communities of Cincinnati and Boston that met in the World Series. I had a fun time writing this. I was living at the time in Quincy MA, on Squantum. I researched the book for a year and a half, shifted the whole tangled plot into present tense, and attempted a novelistic approach. The book appeared in both hard- and softcover editions. Barnes & Noble honored it with a prize and the book became a national bestseller. Much credit is due my editor at Little Brown, Geoff Shandler, and my agent, Richard Abate.

I don’t follow many sports. Baseball is the exception because I grew up with a dad who loved the game and instilled that in his kids. We went to a lot of Dodgers and Angels games when I was growing up, in the years around 1975. When I think about the fact that my Dad drove us such a distance to go to so many games, always insisted we stay until the very end, got us home at one or two a.m., and then rose early the next morning and went to work, I am dumbfounded. I can’t imagine a ball game being worth that. He was remarkable that way. He loved baseball. He followed both teams closely, the Dodgers and the Angels, listening to each of their games every night with an earpiece and a small AM transistor radio. To have a conversation with my dad any night between April and October meant that you would hear him always report the game situation and that he would hear only half of what you were saying, because his other ear was on the game. I definitely wrote this book as a love letter to him, a way of saying thank you, and this is why, as I was writing it, the theme of fathers and sons (or coaches and players) recurred so frequently. He died when I was writing it, though. He would’ve loved to’ve read it, I’m sure.

Reviews

Book Review – The Long Ball

Randolph Giudice, Oahu Island News

“This may be the best book on baseball yet.”

Review: The Long Ball

Publisher’s Weekly

“There’s something about a good baseball yarn that brings out a writer’s childlike enthusiasm.”

In It for the Long Ball

Christopher Cox, Boston Herald

“A colorful tale of baseball’s seminal 1975 season.”

Perfect Game

Mike Miliard, Boston Phoenix

“Majestic…describes complex games crisply, economically, poetically…woven with imagistic gems…”

“Gripping.” —Reader’s Digest

“One of the best baseball books I’ve ever read…. Adelman has an economical yet poetic ear for detail…” —Newsday

“Vivid writing…lovely metaphors… ambitious.” —Washington Post

The Long Ball Book cover

When he looks back on his life, what does Casey Stengel see? Splintered bats, missed signs, force-outs, blurred chalk, smeared lines, and mushy baseballs, black with licorice-spit and tobacco. “I used to chase the balls Babe Ruth hit” is how he summarizes it at his Hall of Fame induction.