The Fireballer by Mark Stevens


The Fireballer is a novel that examines how the game of baseball would react to a pitcher who threw 10-15 MPH faster than any pitcher had ever been recorded throwing. The story is fiction but exists in the real baseball universe. When the book brings up all-time hall of fame pitchers, it’s talking about Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan.

The Fireballer, Frank Ryder, is drafted by and plays for the Baltimore Orioles. While Frank is dealing with tragedy in his past, Major League Baseball is trying to deal with a literal game-changing arm. Will fans come to see ballgames if the pitcher is so good that no player can physically react and see the ball in time to swing? The owners are nervous and it doesn’t take long before they start to talk about changing some rules to keep the games even.

Of course, die-hard baseball fans would love to see a pitcher that could shut out the best players in baseball every time. To know that you could be in the stadium during a no-hitter is an opportunity any fan of the game would jump on.

Note: This book is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

This is a baseball book. If you don’t like baseball, honestly it’s just not going to be for you. There is a lot of jargon that only fans will understand. If you are a lover of the game of Baseball, this is a very good “what if” examination of the game, the culture around the game, and what exactly is the goal of a franchise: winning, or selling tickets?

Each season of baseball exists as a part of the history of the game. This isn’t just the 2023 season we are watching unfold, it’s part of an era of culture and rules that will be defined by the style and nuances of the game. There was a spitball era, a steroid era, and dynasties have risen and fallen. There are legends and superstitions and while it isn’t fair to compare modern athletes to greats like Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner, everyone does it anyway.

An athlete whose talent is significantly beyond the limits of the current standards, baseball teams and fans are all interested in seeing them play. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani of the LA Angels of Anaheim draw baseball fans in every city they visit. In this book, so does Frank Ryder.

The culture of retaliation is also examined in this novel. A hit-by-pitch looks a lot different when the ball is coming at your head at 110 MPH, making just standing in the batters box a possibly fatal or season-ending risk. Frank Ryder is vocal throughout the book about how the best way to retaliate is to get the guy out at the plate, not to knock him out of the game by throwing at him.

For as long as baseball has existed, writers have waxed poetic about the game. How can a game where a guy hits a ball be such a romantic fixation for so many generations? Yet, here we are. My recommendation is that if you love baseball, and you have decent knowledge about the game and its history, you’ll love this book. Read it. And if you aren’t a fan of baseball, go catch a game. The cheap seats are fine, in fact, preferable, if I’m being honest, to most field seats. That’s where the real fans sit, so said my father.

Author’s Summary

I found this summary at Mark Steven’s website.

A poignant story about hopes, dreams, and how far one man’s talent takes him before he realizes it’s about what you do―and how you do it.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Frank Ryder is unstoppable on the baseball field―his pitches arrive faster than a batter can swing, giving his opponents no chance. He’s being heralded as a game-changing pitcher.

But within the maelstrom of press, adulation, and wild speculation, Frank is a man alone. Haunted by a tragic incident from years past, he yearns to be the best but cannot reconcile the guilt he carries with the man everyone believes him to be. Frank’s path to redemption leads him on a journey back to where his life changed forever, to visit his family, his high school coach, and his brother. Through reconnection and reconciliation with those also deeply affected by the devastating event of Frank’s youth, he finds peace and his place in the world both in and outside the game.

The Fireballer is a lyrical, moving story of undeniable talent and the life-changing power of forgiveness and a subtly romantic ode to America’s favorite pastime.

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