In irreverent, laugh-out-loud style, Where Triples Go to Die illuminates the messy intersection of sports, race, and romance in contemporary college life. Black superstar Juke Jackson and white counselor Malcolm Wade, each facing relationship crises at home, forge a bond at school as Wade guides Jackson’s quest to join the legion of African Americans who transformed our national pastime. An array of intervening campus issues—date rape, unplanned pregnancy, revenge porn, academic integrity violations, and the aftershocks of war among them—will keep even readers unfamiliar with The Infield Fly Rule turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Allenby mentioned a news report that Alex Rodriguez might be retiring from the Yankees at the end of the season and giving up his quest to break the home run record.
“Don’t get me started on that,” Wade said. “When he passed Mays on the list, I was hoping Brad Pitt would be there to greet him at home plate with the blade from Inglourious Basterds, carve an asterisk into his forehead.”
Wade was still convinced that the home run breaking Babe Ruth’s historic mark had been hit by the wrong man. He said now, as more than once before, “Put Aaron in a damn wind tunnel for most of his home games instead of those popgun parks in Milwaukee and Atlanta, then subtract sixty or so homers for two years of military service Willie did and Hank didn’t, they probably come out about even. Can you imagine how many homers Mays would have hit if he played his home games where Aaron did?”
“America didn’t love Hank the way we loved Willie,” Allenby conceded. “But if you really want to play the what if game, just imagine if Mays had signed with the Dodgers instead of the Giants.”
Wade stopped his hotdog halfway to his mouth. “Please, I’m trying to eat something here.”
“Unthinkable, I know, but . . . think about it: if Willie signs with the Dodgers, joins that team with Robinson and Campanella and Newcombe, and then later Koufax, Drysdale, Wills, Gilliam, he goes to at least ten World Series: the three he took the Giants to—two of them were tied pennant races that went to playoffs with the Dodgers anyway—plus six the Dodgers went to during his career, not counting the Army years, and one more year when they tied with the Braves—plus however many more his being on that team might have led to.”
As much as it hurt to think about it, it was a good point; Wade had to admit it. “And gets to hang out with Sinatra in Hollywood instead of having rocks tossed at his house in San Francisco.”
Allenby continued: “Giants fans always remember that Marichal got hurt in the World Series in ’62, pitched in only one game, and that cost them the championship. But they forget who else got hurt that year.”
“Koufax.” Wade had not forgotten. “You had to remind me, didn’t you?”
Allenby shrugged. “You think that regular season ends in a tie if Sandy is himself in August and September?”
Wade nodded bitterly. “That was the only World Series Willie got to in San Francisco, and they didn’t win.”
Allenby shrugged again. “You worry too much about what Mays didn’t do. You ought to be satisfied with what he did: I know I don’t have to tell you.”
Wade ran down the list: a pennant at twenty, a championship at twenty-three, 660 home runs, a batting title, league-leader in stolen bases four years in a row, two MVPs more than a decade apart, a dozen straight Gold Gloves dating from the honor’s origin, fifteen wins in his last eighteen appearances in the All-Star Game back when it still meant something, when the AL barely acknowledged the existence of black players. Kept his team in the race pretty much year-in and year-out for twenty years. Made what is still the most iconic catch in the annals of a game going on a hundred and fifty years. And taught multiple generations, of every color, how to play the game with joy. Not a bad resumé.
“He’s got nothing to apologize for,” Allenby said, “and you can stop apologizing for him or wondering what could have been. Forget the what ifs. Celebrate what the man did, who he is, not what he might have done or been.”
And thank God he didn’t sign with the Dodgers. “Of course you’re right,” Wade said. “I just wish he had taken a crack at managing. He could have been the one to break that barrier, too. All that knowledge of the game, all that love for it, he could have passed so much more of himself on.”
“I suspect he found his own ways to pass it on,” Allenby said, “and not just to guys on the Giants. Remember Andruw Jones giving Willie credit for a big jump in his home runs after he spent some time with him?”
Some men spend their lives waiting for the Messiah; Wade had spent most of his waiting for the next Willie Mays. He remembered Andruw Jones, but he couldn’t forget Bobby Bonds, George Foster, Garry Maddox, Gary Matthews, Chili Davis—the whole legion of fast, powerful outfielders the Giants had signed, drafted, and developed in Willie’s image—and then lost in free agency or traded away, usually for next to nothing in return, just as they had traded him. Some hurts would never heal.
Love, race, academia, and baseball converge in the eminently readable Where Triples Go to Die by Phil Hutcheon. Readers will follow the story with the same anticipation and interest as die-hard baseball fans following their favorite teams, knowing there may be a rally in any inning, and that the game—or book—isn't over until every out is called.Seattle Book Review
Phil Hutcheon is a terrific writer and he knows how to surprise readers with intense and dramatic turns in the story. The writing is impeccable, and the dialogue is exceptional, plunging the reader into the worlds and the inner workings of the hearts of the key characters…I couldn’t put it down.Romuald Dzemo, Reader’s Favorite
Where Triples Go to Die pulls the reader on an emotional journey, intertwining two men in different phases of life, but connected through their love of the All-American sport of baseball. Hutcheon masterfully draws even the non-baseball lover into a story that explores the serious topics of race, suicide, alcoholism, abandonment, and unplanned pregnancy, while adding a healthy side of humor and sarcasm and small, interesting doses of relatable quotes and facts. An engaging read!Christi Lyle, Tulsa Book Review
Original, deftly crafted, and a truly memorable read from beginning to end, Desperation Passes is very highly recommended reading and establishes author Phil Hutcheon as an impressively talented novelist who will keep his thoroughly entertained readers looking eagerly toward his next book.Midwest Book Review
You don’t have to love football to get swept up in Desperation Passes. You probably don’t even have to like football, because you’ll quickly come to care deeply about Allenby and Wade, find yourself charmed by their clever repartee, and cheering them both on to come out on top.Manhattan Book Review
Chronicling the battle against a host of life obstacles from bad grammar, drugs, and crime to paralysis-inducing political correctness, fickle lovers, and domestic violence, Nobody Roots for Goliath is a serious-minded, absorbing novel that reads like a true story because it draws so heavily upon harsh reality. Highly recommended.Midwest Book Review