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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 fastball, Mason decided to form a Little League team to help boys avoid the street life that had claimed his youth and mobility. Predictably, the players struggle—they endure poverty, unstable family lives with few positive male role models, failing schools, and dangerous neighborhoods—but through the fists and tears, lopsided losses and rare victories, this bunch of misfits becomes a team, and in doing so gives the community something to root for. With in-depth reporting, fascinating characters, and vivid prose, Jonathan Schuppe’s book is a penetrating, true-to-life portrait of what’s at stake for kids growing up poor in America’s inner cities, as well as a portrait of Newark itself, a struggling city that has recently known great hope as well as failure.
Every day, he parked himself at the far end of the slate-gray platform outside his apartment building, midnight-blue Yankees cap pulled low over his eyes, arms folded across his chest, tensed jaws masked by a thick, black beard. He glared out at Elizabeth Avenue, numb to the block’s clatter and thrum. Young men with hard stares swigged beer outside a bodega, radio growling angry rap. Young mothers tugged kids past the front-door security glass. A procession of medical transport vans and livery cabs idled in the curved driveway, then rattled away. New Jersey
Jonathan Schuppe discusses 'A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City' with Cary Barbor on the BookTalk podcast.
Jonathan Schuppe discusses 'A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City' on the Brian Lehrer Show.