The Lost Innings

A Baseball Redemption

Fiction - Sports
458 Pages
Reviewed on 01/28/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Alex Murphy is a lawyer and teacher. He is retired from the U.S. Army JAG Corps, having served throughout the United States, as well as Germany, Panama, Korea and Iraq.
"Anything which will repair losses may be regarded as a blessing" was Walt Whitman's view of baseball. This idea served as a central theme for "The Lost Innings." All of the characters deal with individual challenges. The redemption they craft, in a very human arc, repairs their losses and gives the reader a baseball-themed second chance in life and love.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

The Lost Innings: A Baseball Redemption by Alex Murphy is a powerful and poignant sports fiction novel. Centering on baseball but extending into a character-driven contemporary drama, this story unfolds through lead character Jack Ridley whose whole life has been defined by baseball, from childhood to adulthood. He loved everything about baseball, and it was more than a way of life. It WAS his life. On his way to becoming a legend, destiny threw him a curveball that changed everything in a drastic way. Losing baseball and love in one fell swoop, he thought the game was over until a second chance showed up in his life in the form of a young ballplayer and his mother.

This is a solid debut novel. It has a lot to offer fans of baseball without being cliched, but even more to those who like heartfelt stories of redemption. The author's crafting of Jack Ridley is perfect in that Ridley feels like a walking, breathing man who is at the top of his game and loving every minute of it, but suffers a setback. Murphy seems to have a natural gift for character building, story arcs, and a meaningful plot. While reading through the chapters, you get the feeling you know people like Jack, Duncan, and Danielle, and understand their situations and how they feel. The author writes with emotion, drawing the reader in on a personal level with his finger on the pulse of Americana itself. Besides baseball and relationships, you have themes of music and humor. The inside-baseball information will appeal to avid baseball players and fans, and the book as a whole has a wide appeal. If you like stories such as Field of Dreams or The Natural, you will love The Lost Innings: A Baseball Redemption by Alex Murphy.

Kenneth Salzmann

The devastating tragedy that sent young baseball phenomenon Jack Ridley into “baseball purgatory” and years of personal struggle was none of his own doing. But he paid a huge price for that life-changing moment, losing his place in the major leagues. Such random moments that shape a life are the norm in Alex Murphy’s The Lost Innings, a baseball novel in every sense, but also one that delves deep into the personal stories of its compelling characters, in and out of the game. Five years into his exile from the top reaches of the game he loves, Jack happens upon Duncan, a teen with major league talent but limited opportunity. Acting on both his own unresolved relationship with the game and his kind and generous nature, Jack determines to work with Duncan to prepare him for a shot at “The Show” and a path to get there. That path proves to be littered with obstacles, but it’s also one that is rich in human connection as Jack not only teaches Duncan the nuances of pitching but is learning himself how to fully re-enter into life, a process that illuminates the subtitle of the book, A Baseball Redemption.

In The Lost Innings, Alex Murphy has created a story steeped in the fine points of baseball but has done so with skill and graceful humanity that will hold the interest of readers of all stripes, whether they have—or want to have—a background in baseball or not. Fans of the game will relish his intricate knowledge of pitching mechanics and strategies, but these are rendered so comfortably that anyone can enjoy the interplay between teacher and student. If there’s a flaw in this 450-page book, it might be that it could be tightened in spots, especially where previous scenes are recounted more fully than necessary, or where the same character traits are emphasized again and again, long after the reader has come to know what makes the characters tick. But those are small matters, and ones that are open to discussion. If they can become somewhat repetitive, they can also, for another reader, only deepen our understanding of Jack, Duncan, and the rest. In the end, Alex Murphy has hit a home run with The Lost Innings.

Vincent Dublado

The Lost Innings: A Baseball Redemption is a moving story of one man’s journey and finds meaning through America’s favorite pastime. Alex Murphy brings to the forefront Jack Ridley who embodies the ordinariness of common people but possesses a gift in a field that he can rightfully claim he is good at. In Ridley’s case, it is baseball. Through a series of flashbacks, you come to understand that Ridley is a baseball genius tormented by a dark past. Everything is set for him to join the big leagues, but fate chooses to play a cruel prank on him as baseball and the woman he loves are taken away from him. Redemption comes when he least expects it, as he encounters Duncan James, a young baseball hopeful, and teaches him the finer points of the game.

The Lost Innings provides pleasure for baseball fans, and even if you are not, you will not find any trouble relating to the plot. Alex Murphy is passionate about exploring the character and he finds profound truths in quoting literary figures like Twain, Whitman, and Cather. Duncan’s mother, Danielle, is wonderfully complex. As she herself is finding her way toward healing her own wounds, she exudes a sort of mystery that piques Ridley’s interest—yet another testament to the depth of Murphy’s characters. You will feel sorry for Ridley for not being able to realize his dream, but you will still find in him a fascinating character who continues to move with the game even if it has maimed his spirit. The Lost Innings is a sentimental and arresting story that readers of any age and gender will enjoy.