Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Legend of Mickey Tussler - Frank Nappi

Set in 1948, minor league Milwaukee Brewers have a poor record. Arthur 'Murph' Murphy is charged with finding a way to improve and rejuvenate the flagging team. Scouring the countryside, he has a car accident and as he searches for a phone he spots Mickey Tussler, a strapping 17 year old farm boy pitching apples into an empty barrel.

Murph's feeling is that Mickey can and will save the team. Everyone else, including owner Dennison, is not so sure. Dealing with autism, Mickey is often in a place that few people understand. With an honest, childlike point of view and a simple introduction of "...Mickey here is going to do some pitching for us." a world of possibility is opened up and the whole team, including Murph learn that behind the beautiful game of baseball there can be a lot of ugliness.

This is a story more about baseball and its characters rather than a young boy's struggle with autism and fitting into 'everyday' life, but it is simply and beautifully told. The characters met are rich, vibrant and Nappi conveys each personality with an emotion and depth that you soon find yourself cheering for some and hoping others will get their comeuppance!

Despite only having a little understanding of baseball, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. With his background in teaching English and creative writing for over twenty years, it will be of no surprise to find beautifully descriptive prose. The eloquence of sentences made me feel the exhilaration of a baseball game as if I was there watching in the stands, it made me simmer with annoyance at Mickey's father and his lack of compassion for his son. However, I was a bit disappointed that the story didn't focus more on Mickey and how 1940s America dealt with autism and I think Nappi missed a trick here. In short, it's still a great novel especially if you love baseball. A recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive review. 


  1. Thanks for the comment Charles - I've just finished reading 'Sophomore Campaign' - just as good. Review to follow..