Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere is Lucas Mann's personal narrative of his experience following the Clinton Lumberkings, a single A minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, through the course of an entire season. It is not a day by day account of the games and players so much as it is the author's observations and perceptions of the players, the fans, and the city of Clinton, Iowa, viewed through the context of the historical and economic history of the city, as well as the author's personal background.
Mann provides an interesting
history of the city's birth, growth and decline into what it is today, a
working class town with a subpar reputation (and about 25 minutes from
my hometown). This city is one in which the current team of young,
unpolished, inexperienced itinerants of professional baseball are
laboring to leave behind in order to move up the developmental ladder.
the way, some players are seen as probably having reached the zenith of
their professional baseball careers and will soon have to pursue
alternative careers outside baseball. Some players are seen as having
an opportunity to advance to the next level or two, but not of making it
to "the show;" too few players are seen as having the most realistic
potential to realize their ultimate goal.
The transitory nature of
minor league baseball, particularly at low level single A level, is set
against the long standing loyalty of a core group of baseball fans who,
despite the economic downturn experienced by the city, stayed and found
some consolation and stability in the team which continued to play in
their city through some rough years. Although the team can and does
change from season to season, even from month to month, these steadfast
fans chronicle the team season to season, year to year, in their own
ways. In doing so, they are able to accept and adapt to the change they
have experienced in their own lives and in their own city.
the book was an interesting read and thought provoking far beyond the
context of minor league baseball. It's an interesting view of a city,
its minor league baseball team, and its fans.