Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Shadows of Swayne Field: The Search for the Abraham Lincoln Baseball is a sports mystery novel written by Ronald R. Harrington. Punky and the old Lucas County Recreation Center had a history, even beyond the 1860s vintage baseball game he was playing that hot August day in a full Civil-War-era baseball uniform. He was forty now and loved the vintage games which allowed him, even at the advanced age of 40, to experience the thrill and joy of being at bat and racing for first base. For Punky, having his son, Ronson, in the stands added to the thrill as did remembering his own childhood and being there with Grandpa Hash all those years ago.
The magic that is part of every baseball game seems to carry over into just about every novel and memoir that I’ve read about the sport, but some are even more magical than the rest. Ronald R. Harrington’s Shadows of Swayne Field is one of those rare and very special baseball stories that might even sway the most devoted hater of the sport and get them to see for a moment at least what the rest of us experience. Harrington gets it so well in this amazing tale that blends history, magic and fantasy into a synergistic force that is so much bigger than its parts. I loved getting to know the irrepressible Grandpa Hash and seeing the tight bond he and his grandson share is a joy indeed.
And while I read the book, it seemed as though I were part of the magical weekend the two share as well -- and I don’t think I’m the only one who will feel this way. Anyone who begins this singularly good story is bound to have the same nearly mystical experience that the author shares with us. The plot is a corker, for sure, the mystery of the Lincoln ball is tantalizing, and the adventures Hash and Punky embark upon on their baseball weekend are legendary. The characters? Well, some even those who religiously avoid baseball will still recognize and others you’ll love getting to know as much as I did. Shadows of Swayne Field: The Search for the Abraham Lincoln Baseball is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year; it’s most highly recommended.