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Download One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season Audiobook, by Chris Ballard Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (277 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris Ballard Narrator: Mike Chamberlain Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781452680293
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In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of three hundred and seventy teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There, sporting long hair, and warming up to Jesus Christ Superstar, the Ironmen would play a dramatic game against a Chicago powerhouse that would change their lives forever.In a gripping, cinematic narrative, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard tells the story of the team and its coach, Lynn Sweet, a hippie, dreamer and intellectual who arrived in Macon in 1966, bringing progressive ideas to a town stuck in the Eisenhower era. Beloved by students but not administration, Sweet reluctantly took over a rag-tag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by Sweet's unconventional methods and led by fierystar Steve Shartzer and spindly curveball artist John Heneberry, the undersized, undermanned Macon Ironmen embarked on an improbable postseason run that infuriated rival coaches and buoyed an entire town.Beginning with Sweet's arrival, Ballard takes listeners on a journey back to the Ironmen's historic season and then on to the present day, returning to the 1971 Ironmen to explore the effect the game had on their lives' trajectories-and the men they've become because of it. Engaging and poignant, One Shot at Forever is a testament to the power of high school sports to shape the lives of those who play them, and it reminds us that there are few bonds more sacred than those among a coach, a team, and a town. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ballard writes very well and avoids the usual pitfalls of the inspirational story—the cloying platitudes and rah-rah nonsense. These kids were simply good ballplayers coached by a guy with an open mind, a lot of common sense, and a zest for fun.”

    Booklist

  • Ballard writes very well and avoids the usual pitfalls of the inspirational story, the cloying platitudes and rah-rah nonsense. These kids were simply good ballplayers coached by a guy with an open mind, a lot of common sense, and a zest for fun. Booklist
  • “Chamberlain’s reading is smooth, consistent, and never overpowering.”

    Booklist (audio review)

  • An AudioFile Earphones Award winner

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Gorman | 2/9/2014

    " What a great story! Short and (pardon the pun) Sweet. Captivating but not sappy, this true story is unforgettable. Being a sports fan helps but being a people fan is the main criteria for enjoying this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 2/4/2014

    " I don't usually finish a book in three days, but I couldn't stop reading this. Everything is right in this one. Great tale, elegantly told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MaryBeth | 2/1/2014

    " What a great book, and what a great reminder as we enter Little League season that this is a game that is supposed to be fun! I am on season five of coaching Little League, and I know that I'll approach the game a little bit differently this year. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/31/2014

    " While it is a little more microscopically detailed and therefore longer than it needed to be, this is a wonderful true story about an inspirational, if unconventional teacher/coach and his little rural Illinois baseball team. Set in the early 1970s, it was easy for me to relate to the passage from 50s to 60s to 70s small town America. Not scintillating writing, but the story holds its own. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dale Stonehouse | 1/18/2014

    " This story of a small-town high-school baseball team in 1971 benefits from the absence of too much detail and/or history of that part of the world and its people. The peace signs some player's caps featured drew me in immediately. In 1971, on my home field, someone had scratched a large peace sign in the dirt, easy because there was not much grass. I used that peace sign to position myself, depending on the batter and pitcher. Anyone from a small town where in the past high school sports were the main entertainment will identify with the Macon Ironmen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 1/10/2014

    " I thought I'd hate this book, as I'm not into sports - at all. But except for all the baseball lingo which went right over my head, it was a pretty enjoyable read. It's always a joy to root for the underdog, and this small-town ultra-rural baseball team was about as much an underdog as it's possible to be. But thanks to an eccentric coach and some talented and driven players, their little team made it to state. It would have been a more exciting of course if they had won the state title. But the story described how Coach Lynn Sweet put the emphasis on - God forbid - having fun and loyalty and believing in yourself, which made a refreshing read in today's *win-to-win* society. It was also great to see how these nobodys from notown, USA made it so far on a combination of talent, hard work, and luck. You couldn't help but root for this oddball team with a big heart. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 1/5/2014

    " I only gave it three stars because it was a slow read for me. The story itself, however, is amazing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hassanchop | 1/3/2014

    " A nice quick read. I would have loved to play for their coach. He sounds like a great guy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 1/1/2014

    " A light read that is generally well-written for this genre of books. An interesting story about an unlikely coach who was very lucky to have a very talented group of ball-players. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele Bové | 11/29/2013

    " Chris Ballard is one of best sportswriters working today. He has a real talent for bringing underdog stories and unsung athletes to life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan Christian | 11/25/2013

    " Normally not my kind of thing, but inspiring none-the-less! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mindy | 9/20/2013

    " A great small town baseball story about Macon's finest! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 8/26/2013

    " If you like good sports stories, then you should read this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danton | 5/2/2013

    " The story moves along quickly, with strong insight into several of the primary people's lives, before, during and since the magical summer. It's a look back to a time when teachers could engage with students outside of school and truly develop meaningful relationships with them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 4/21/2013

    " One of the best sports books I have ever read period and end of sentence. (And I have read a lot of them.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 4/11/2013

    " If you are not moved by this book, you haven't a heart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen Gripman | 1/6/2013

    " Could not put this down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenn | 12/2/2012

    " I'll be surprised if this doesn't make it into the theaters. Inspirational baseball story that leaves you feeling all good in-side. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Willis | 11/29/2012

    " This was not the typical underdog story that I expected. I enjoyed it despite the blow by blow plays. "

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About the Author

Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he specializes in narrative long-form stories. He is one of five 2012 finalists for a National Magazine Award in profile writing, is a past recipient of a National Headliner Award, and was the 2011 winner of the Joanie Award. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and his work has twice been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing series. Ballard is the author of The Art of a Beautiful Game, The Butterfly Hunter, and Hoops Nation. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, Alexandra, and two daughters, Callie and Eliza.

About the Narrator

Mike Chamberlain is an actor and voice-over performer in Los Angeles whose audiobook narration has won five AudioFile Earphones Awards. His voice credits range from radio commercials and television narration to animation and video game characters. Stage trained at Boston College, he has performed works from Shakespeare and the classics to contemporary drama and comedy.