The Lord of The Infield Flies

Non-Fiction - Memoir
126 Pages
Reviewed on 12/31/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Lord of the Infield Flies is a non-fiction sports memoir written by Steve Reilly. This volume is a prequel to the author's previously published memoir entitled The Fat Lady Never Sings, which tells the story of the Derby High School State Championship team in 1992. When that memoir was published, several of his former players wondered why he had not written about Derby's 1977 team. This book focuses in particular on the games played in the summer of 1977 by the Derby Senior Babe Ruth Team. Reilly introduces the reader to each of his players from that season, giving details of their strengths and weaknesses on the field as well as insights into their personalities and interactions with teammates. Their 1977 summer was a challenging one, with their efforts against rival Torrington not the easy victory some had counted upon. Coach Reilly wanted the team’s summer experience to be a special one, both for the graduates who would be attending college in the fall and those still in high school. His first arrangement, for them to play in Cape Cod, fell through to universal disappointment, but then another opportunity came their way. The coach of the Maine Senior Babe Ruth state champs wanted some tune-up games before the championship tournament. He arranged a cabin for the team to stay in for the weekend. Some players turned it down, still smarting over losing Cape Cod, but those players who did take the drive up to Waterboro, ME had a weekend they wouldn't forget.

Steve Reilly's non-fiction sports memoir, The Lord of the Infield Flies, is a treat for anyone who's ever enjoyed a game of baseball or found themselves glued to the television when a game is aired. There's a lot of solid baseball action going on in this memoir. We see behind the scenes planning for batting lineups and watch as the players psych each other and the opposing team out. It's grand fun to read and, for a few hours, I was happily lost in two suspenseful games begun with a riotous road trip, broken by a confusion with lost players in Old Orchard Beach, and, yes, a lobster dinner. Reilly is a consummate story-teller. He had me laughing out loud when he refused to make a rest stop on the trip up north and cheering as the team strutted their stuff on the field. I haven't yet read Reilly's memoir for the 1992 season; however, after reading this book, I'm planning on diving into that one as well. The Lord of the Infield Flies is most highly recommended.

Marta Tandori

The Lord of the Infield Flies by Steve Reilly is a memoir that is sure to leave readers who came of age during the late seventies pining just a bit for the ‘good old days’ of their lost youth. It’s the summer of seventy-seven and the author is twenty-one years old and in his second year as head coach of Derby’s summer Senior Babe Ruth baseball team. By day, he’s an accountant-trainee for a major corporation in Bridgeport, and to make the weekday home and away games, he has to take his allotted two weeks of vacation time in hours and fractions of an hour. Derby is the smallest city in Connecticut where the only sport that mattered throughout the author’s high school years was football; where the Derby high school football team became state champions and remained undefeated for a number of years. Like most of the players on his team, the author had also played baseball at Derby High School. As coach to a team of spirited teenage boys, Reilly wears many hats; that of father figure, cop, and babysitter, as we soon learn.

It’s during this summer that Reilly and his team are invited to Maine to play some tune up games against the Maine Senior Babe Ruth state champions before that team heads to the New England Regional Championship tournament the following month. With some of the players refusing to go, Reilly must scramble to find alternate players as well as accommodations and transportation on a practically non-existent budget. The coach on the other team offers them the use of a cabin by the lake for twenty-five dollars a night and they are offered the use of a truck with a camper as transportation, in addition to Reilly’s vehicle, which is driven by one of the players on the team. Among the expected hi-jinks typical of teenage boys that include drinking, urinating outside a moving vehicle, partying, topless bars and very little sleep – all of which probably aged the author more than he cared to admit – there is some great baseball played that weekend, leaving everyone who went with the fondest of memories and those who didn’t more than a little envious.

What The Lord of the Infield Flies lacks in literary finesse, it more than makes up with heart and prose that resonates with considerable pride. Reilly’s book underscores the fact that sometimes it’s an event such as the one they had that summer in Maine that becomes a life-changing catalyst for some. In the case of the author, he turned his back on being an accountant and instead went on to study law. Reilly’s book also reminds us that sometimes tragedies serve to rekindle some wonderful old memories of days gone by. Whether you’re a baseball lover or simply someone longing for a taste of nostalgia or in search of one’s lost youth, The Lord of the Infield Flies promises to deliver on all fronts.

Romuald Dzemo

The Lord of the Infield Flies by Steven M. Reilly is a hilarious, true-life account of a crazy adventure, a story that will infinitely appeal to baseball fans. At the start of his coaching career, a baseball coach, barely twenty, sets out with his team on a weekend trip to Cape Cod where they planned to play against a Massachusetts all-star team. But things do not go as planned, so the coach decides, against what many of his players want, to change direction and instead go to Maine where they could play an all-star team. A small incident on the way creates an adventure that none could have imagined and, just because of a few drinks, part of the team gets separated from the rest, traveling in a different direction. The question is: Can this team get to play the match most desired for the weekend and can they be reunited in time to do so?

Told in the first person narrative, The Lord of the Infield Flies is a candid tale of courage and adventure and the narrator's voice comes across powerfully. The narrative is nothing but excellent, the prose polished and ringing with music. I enjoyed the dialogue and the intoxicating hilarity of the tale. One of the things I enjoyed is how the author presents the common problems inherent to a team and it is interesting to see how the young coach deals with them. There is a lot of fun in this story and there is a lot to learn about baseball as well. Steven M. Reilly offers beautiful insights and tips that can help any team to succeed. This is a story that is both entertaining and informative, a really good read.