It Happened in Wisconsin by Ken Moraff
Winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The story is told by an elderly unnamed man who was a pitcher for the minor league baseball team Racine Robins during the Great Depression. The tight-knit team played in cities all around the Great Lakes states and was committed to the cause of helping the poor and laboring class. The team was happy with traveling in their beat-up bus, eating sandwiches on the road, and playing for enthusiastic crowds who received a portion of the money from the gate for soup kitchens and strikers. The narrator had a girlfriend Nancy who ran a café in Binghamton, NY, but the narrator was often on the road with the team so they only could get together in the off season and when the team was in town. Then it happened in Wisconsin during a freak April snowstorm when the team sought shelter at a hotel, and a rich man named Spencer offered to buy the team dinner. Mike, star player and best friend of the narrator, is tempted by Spencer’s talk of Mike playing in the major league and by Spencer’s beautiful daughter, Irene. And that is the essence of the story—good intentions and ideals versus love and money and comfort. You will have to read the book to find out which path the narrator chose and which path Mike chose. It Happened in Wisconsin reminded me of Water for Elephants with the elderly narrator describing life in the Great Depression except that this book is about baseball instead of circuses. This book is a good choice for people who like baseball and who like historical fiction.