|Book Review: Miracle Ball|
Written by Richard Coreno (Contact & Archive) on July 28, 2009
One photograph tells it all, for those willing to look very closely.
Pafko at the Wall, an iconic shot of Andy Pafko of the Brooklyn Dodgers looking up into the outfield stands at the Polo Grounds after Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants slammed the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" on October 3, 1951, appears to give solid clues to what happened to the baseball. But early conclusions can be very deceiving.
In 1990, his father bought at a thrift store a baseball signed by the 1951 Giants for two dollars. In Spring 2004, he learns that a major sports auction house is offering a $1 million reward for the ball, which he feels he has at home. And it's from this point where Biegel becomes more and more involved in the story, which includes filming a documentary on his search.
There is the unsavory world of sports memorabilia, the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, Thomson's girlfriend and Thomson, the sons of the clubhouse manager for the Giants, forensic science, media outlets, attorneys and enough false leads to thwart even the most tenacious investigator.
But several dangling clues -- a passage in an obscure book written by sportswriter Tommy Holmes and a fan's recollection of a scheme he had to sneak into the Polo Grounds the night before the game -- ultimately leads Biegel to Felician Convents, a church in Hicksville, Long Island, and the connection Saint Rita has to the game...which leads him to "the Holy Grail of Sports."
Although the main plot oftentimes gets bogged down by bulky backstory material, the final piecing together of the clues and the conclusion drawn by Biegel makes an easy ground ball out into a bad hop single that keeps the inning alive.
AHP Rating: 2.5 Balls
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Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book store to get a copy.