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A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  65 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist follows an embattled Little League team in inner-city Newark, New Jersey, revealing the complex realities of urban life in one of America's most dangerous cities
When Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark's rough South Ward, was shot and paralyzed, he vowed to turn his life around. A former high-school pitching ace with a 93 mph
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published April 16th 2013)
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Sam Sattler
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Much to the chagrin of Major League Baseball and baseball coaches at every level, the sport has pretty much been abandoned by the black youth of America's inner cities. This is not a new problem, and Major League executives have thrown a lot of money at the problem in recent years by building youth ballparks and providing equipment to teams willing to give the sport a shot.

But, as Jonathan Schuppe points out in A Chance to Win, largely due to peer pressure, black kids are still reluctant to tak
John Beck
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When is a book about baseball not a baseball book?

When the book is Jonathan Schuppe's brilliantly realized A Chance to Win. What began as a feature article about a Little League team by a crime reporter turned into a tale of the long struggle to rebuild Newark, NJ. It's a story about the permanent underclass build by draconian drug laws, failed schools, and shattered families. It's a story about the shadow economy created by the shortfalls of the welfare s
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

My Take:


Rodney - a former drug dealer and promising pitcher, paralyzed for a decade from a shot fired by his girlfriend's new boyfriend.

Jonathan Schuppe - a reporter for Newark's Star Ledger who wrote an article about the inner city featuring Rodney. Since the printing of the article, they have kept in touch.

Dewan - his mom is a teacher raising two boys by herself while her husband (Dewan's stepfather) ser
Andrew Madden
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Chance To Win by Jonathan Schuppe is an outstanding novel about a young man turning his life around. The main character is Rodney Mason who grew up in the dangerous streets of Newark. The novel takes place in Newark. The main conflict in this novel is that Rodney Mason is a great young baseball player but drugs and drug dealing start taking over his life. This causes something very bad to happen to him and he has to turn his life around now. The clear theme in this novel is to never give up n ...more
Karen & Gerard
A Chance To Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City by Jonathan Schuppe is not a baseball book. It is a book about life in the inner city. Rodney, an ex-con, is left wheelchair bound after a shooting and decides to coach a little league baseball team to give young boys an outlet in an attempt to keep them from his former life of drugs. Most of the book deals with the people with whom Rodney has every day contact. These people have a rough life to say the least, ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very moving and eye opening story which takes place right in our own backyard, Newark, which is minutes and worlds away. Story covers much more than baseball, but really about relationships (or lack of), redemption, recedivism, poverty, and how the system fails the people who are trying to redeem themselves.
Tatiana Gomez
A must-read for fans of "Random Family," "A Chance To Win" is a similar journalist's foray into the poverty stricken urban experience of Newark, NJ with a much happier ending.
It is interesting to compare these two books--Schuppe makes no effort to hide himself in his writing, and clearly points out his influences on and his conversations with the characters, unlike the eerily absent narrator in Random Family. Perhaps because of Schuppe's focus on maleness versus Random Family's focus on femalene
Deborah Yaffe
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Schuppe's book is a moving story about what's been called "the other America": a place where children barely in their teens routinely confront unspeakable loss and grief; where adults feel, with some justice, that the system is stacked against them; and where the public institutions -- especially the schools -- that should offer an escape route too often compound generations of failure. Though framed as a baseball story, it's more a story about parenting -- and growing up -- against the ...more
Mike  Davis
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Author Schuppe is a Pulitzer prize winning writer who spent four years following youths in the ghetto streets of Newark, NJ. It is a novel of hope and despair, chance and failure and about never giving up when life throws a curve ball. There is very little baseball here. It is the vehicle by which one paraplegic black man found a way to try and make a difference with inner city kids. Schuppe tags along with several of the subjects over the years and writes detailed accounts of their struggles, c ...more
Mike OHagerty
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd love to see a follow-up story online checking in on Rodney Mason and other graduates of the Newark Eagles. Mr. Schuppe gave us a little more insight into how Cory Booker is as an executive. A great story of the regular struggles of urban living and the choices young people in these settings have to make on an almost hourly basis and how easily they can be led astray. Well done Mr. Schuppe!
Riley Cooper
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One strength of this book lies in giving the reader a window into living and striving in a rundown and dangerous city. Having baseball be one central theme is a bonus. But the best reason to read this book, in my opinion, is to witness so many people keep hoping for better days despite getting hit with disappointments and letdowns on a regular basis. There is no "happily ever after" here, but there is life.
Helen Harvey
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great clear writing. Having worked in Newark with ex-offenders it was easy for me to understand the frustration of trying to cause positive change in a city where all levels of society are grappling for a piece of whatever they can get. The spirit of the main character was truly inspiring as was the author's need to tell the story. Makes you become a fan of youth baseball too!
Readerly Magazine
Rodney Mason, a former drug dealer paralyzed in a drive-by shooting, wants to help the young men of his Newark community stay off the streets by staying on the baseball diamond. The book is a moving story somewhere between Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family and H. G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights.
Art Delaney
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much more about the life of inner city kids than baseball.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very impressive reporting on real life in a real city. I am rooting for these men and boys; it's not fair, what they have to overcome.
*I won this book in a goodreads first reads giveaway*
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insightful glimpse into inner city living and an inspiring story about working to overcome the struggles of everyday living in that environment.
Martin  Poblete
Really good book , but I do beg to differ on it being inspiring. its more eye opening to the struggles and mentality of the Inner city ghettos.
Jeff Wolfe
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Chance to Win is a story that goes way beyond the game of baseball, telling a gritty story of survival and redemption in Newark, NJ.

Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gritty, inspirational, and (like life) without tidy endings. Oh -- and extremely well written.
Abe Rabinowitz
rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2013
Thomas J.
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Aug 14, 2016
Jim Willse
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May 06, 2013
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Aug 28, 2013
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Jan 08, 2014
Roy Wano
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Feb 01, 2013
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Nov 10, 2014
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I'm a former reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, where I shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Gov. Jim McGreevey's downfall. In 2008, the University of Colorado and the Denver Press Club honored me with the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting. That year, I covered a story that became the book A Chance to Win, which won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize, given by the Columbia Journa ...more
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