KDL Recommends For Teens > Award Winners and "Best of" Lists > Alex Award Winners

KDL Recommends

< Juvenile In Justice | Pure >

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

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

ISBN: 9781401324384

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

Author: Chris Ballard

KDL Description:


Recounts the journey of hippie, dreamer, and intellectual Lynn Sweet, who arrived in Macon, Illinois, in 1966 and became the reluctant coach of the high school baseball team, leading the Macon Ironmen through an improbable season to the state final.

Amazon Description:

  The Inspirational Story of a Coach, a Baseball Team, and the Season They’ll Never Forget

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 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 fiery
star 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

Beginning with Sweet’s arrival, Ballard takes readers 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 that among a
coach, a team, and a town