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The Arkansas Connection

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Frank Munro, manager of the New York Mets, leads a turbulent life trying to win with a team of dysfunctional underachievers. Soon after the Mets lose the final game of the season, Frank finds out his mother has died, and he must return to his hometown of Catsville, Arkansas, to arrange her funeral. His attempt to give her remains a grand send-off results in mayhem, and out of pity his mother’s friend Alice invites him to a "tea party” with three other ladies, where the tea is actually moonshine. Frank gives them a play-by-play of that final game, and manages to survive the evening. He returns to New York to find the Mets’ owner has decided to give him one more chance.

Meanwhile, Bobby Sherward, a doctor-turned-right fielder who sustained a concussion from the fly ball and lost the Mets' final season game, decides that his future is in medicine, not baseball. He takes a position at a veteran’s hospital in Arkansas. Upon arrival, he is amazed to find it's within spitting distance of Frank's hometown.

That’s not the only unsettling coincidence Bobby must contend with, for it soon becomes apparent that Broken Arrow Memorial is the medical equivalent of the Mets. Run by a psychotic medical director, the hospital is the home of indifferent or incompetent doctors, electro-convulsed patients, and assorted weird experiments.

Bobby soon has enough, but before he leaves town he encounters a remarkable sandlot baseball player named Jonathon Brown. Besides being a phenomenal player, Jonathon is also a mathematical genius who runs a highly successful investment group in the back room of a local diner.

Bobby manages to convince Jonathon to try out for the Mets, and his incredible skills both on the field and in finance bring him and the team fame and prosperity. But Jonathon also raises the ire of the brokerage firm losing customers to his sound investment advice. As a result, the company's CEO makes plans to “eliminate” the new competition. Will Jonathon survive his trip to the big league, and complete the Arkansas Connection?

175 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2013

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David Evans

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73 reviews
July 23, 2016
I found this book entertaining and subtle in the messages it provided and style of writing. It has a softer touch than say the book Moneyball but it addresses the same type of narrative. It’s a humorous journey behind the scenes of a losing baseball team, and the people involved in the franchise. I found the character of Bobby Sherward extremely authentic in his decisions about playing baseball, and the way the protagonist Frank Munro and he meet again was thoughtfully written.

The author juxtaposes the chaos of the baseball team with that of a hospital- both having issues, both failing at the basics and trying to sort out the purpose to both in this world.
It’s a character driven novel rather than plot based, so perhaps those who like the basic “this is what happens next” kind of book might not like this, but those who like learning about human nature and our reactions to situations will certainly enjoy this book. This is a more introspective look at too very stressful types of careers, and yes, those who enjoy baseball will certainly enjoy this look into a world they know a great deal about, but I enjoyed those he met in the small town, and it really brought out that small town feeling.

This isn’t a ‘light’ book, it’s a little more layered than that, and you will bounce back and forth with the likeability of the characters. But that’s what I liked about it. In real life, no one is 100% likeable, but you do enjoy hearing their stories. So I would say this give this one a shot. It’s not for everyone, but it was interesting.
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