Pitching to Giraffes

Fiction - Sports
296 Pages
Reviewed on 06/08/2024
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Author Biography

Tom Puszykowski has lived his entire life in mid-Michigan. He pitched on a college baseball team from 1969 through 1972. He enthusiastically engaged in the ideas, excitement, and turbulence of that time, as well as coming to appreciate the beauty, strength, and heritage embedded in the game of baseball.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Pitching to Giraffes by Tom Puszykowski follows John, a college baseball pitcher navigating the turbulent sociopolitical landscape of the early 1970s. John's journey, from his struggles with self-identity to contending with the societal expectations of his era, is both relatable and introspective. His baseball team wants to win the championship, but John has many distractions, and the coach doesn’t seem to have what it takes to create a winning team. Can John be the inspiration his team needs to win? Set against collegiate life and America’s shifting cultural sentiments, the story intertwines the protagonist's personal growth with historical events. This is notably evident in passages like John's participation in an anti-war rally in Detroit and his interactions with various ideological waves sweeping his college community.

The author's depiction of John's baseball journey is laced with authenticity and meticulous detail, particularly in the scenes portraying the technical nuances of baseball practices and games. The descriptions of John’s pitching mechanics and the dynamics within his team are rendered with an almost loving specificity. This intimate portrayal helps ground the reader in John's world while also illustrating his evolving relationship with the sport—a metaphor for his attempts to find direction and belonging in broader aspects of his life. Pitching to Giraffes is a compelling novel with fascinating social and political commentary. From the earnest yet misguided Coach Fragen to John’s radical friend, Vince, each character is a vessel through which Tom Puszykowski explores divergent viewpoints. John's ideological conversations, especially with Vince, provide rich commentary on the conflict between institutional values and emerging countercultural ideals. These moments also provide a raw and unfiltered insight into John’s psyche, making them crucial to understanding his character arc. I enjoyed the perfectly rendered first-person narrative voice, the beautiful prose, and the complex setting.