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One Shot at Forever

A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season

One Shot at Forever
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"One Shot at Forever is powerful, inspirational. . . . This isn't merely a book about baseball. It's a book about heart."
--Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won

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 370 teams to represent the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There the Ironmen would play against a Chicago powerhouse in a dramatic game that would change their lives forever.

In this gripping, cinematic narrative, 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 the ragtag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Together they embarked on an improbable postseason run that buoyed a small town in desperate need of something to celebrate.

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 that among a coach, a team, and a town.

"Macon's run at the title reminds us why sports matter and why sportswriting has such great power to inspire. . . . [It's] one hell of a good story, and Ballard has written one hell of a good book." --Jonathan Eig, Chicago Tribune