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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Touching All Bases: Going Home is an interrelated collection of baseball stories written by George Ruszat. Augie Rausch fell in love with baseball from the moment when his dad first started having catch sessions with him when he was a little kid. Augie was a junior in high school now in Wheatfield, Iowa, a small town that was known for its talented baseball players. Augie’s dad played and, when he didn’t make the pros, opened the town’s sporting goods store. Coach Elwood Storr’s budding career with the Red Sox was interrupted by the war, and he’s now coaching the high school and American Legion teams. Augie dreams of being approached by a scout after one of their games and having his own chance at the major leagues. He knows he’s not the best player out there, but he is a strong all-round player who has an uncanny understanding of the complexities of the game. He’d like to be a coach someday too, so he was pleased when Coach Storr asked him to help Coach Pfennig with the junior varsity game.
The opening story in Touching All Bases: Going Home is set in the 1950s when opportunities for kids to play baseball were more limited, and the concept of elite baseball camp had probably not even been dreamed of yet. And while the fictional Augie is somewhat older than I am, his baseball heroes resonated with me as I read, and I remembered opening the countless packs of chewing gum to get those all-important cards, and settling in for Saturday afternoon baseball games on the television. One aspect of baseball literature that makes it my favorite type of sports fiction is the attention spent to strategy, to the contest of minds and wills waged between the opposing teams’ pitchers and the intricate teamwork operating behind what looks to the ill-informed viewer to be a relatively simple game.
Ruszat’s stories have that focus on strategy -- and more. I loved watching the games through Augie’s eyes. Ruszat’s story is one every kid with major league stars in their eyes should read as it highlights how even those who are passed up by the agents can end up with a role in the majors. And anyone who’s ever thrilled at the crack of a hardball hitting solid wood will probably love this book as much as I do. Touching All Bases: Going Home is most highly recommended.