Eighteen year-old Roy Tucker sat slouched on the train, his suitcase with a bat strapped on perched above him on the rack. The train wouldn’t move, nor would his friends on the platform who stood gawking at him from below. It was the spring of 1939 and he was leaving home and the small town of Tomkinsville, Connecticut for the first time in his life, headed for the spring training camps in Florida to try out with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a pitcher. The excitement, the uncertainty, the fear--all of it weighed upon him as he sat for seemingly endless minutes on that hot, dusty train.
So begins the unforgettable story of Roy Tucker, the Kid from Tomkinsville, and his journey into the world of professional baseball. Bewildered, homesick, yet brimming with talent, Roy rides a roller coaster of rookie emotions, the fear and loneliness that eats at his confidence, the crushing disappointment of every failure, and the giddy high of each success. A farm boy who is used to a quieter, simpler life, he is thrown into the fast-paced world of celebrity, big money, swollen egos and hot tempers. The cast of characters he encounters dazzles him: Razzle Nugent, the star pitcher known for his beer-drinking, green suits and practical jokes. Jack MacManus, the Dodgers’ club owner whose explosive temper, staunch loyalty and constant feuds with the Giants’ club owner were famous around the league.
Gabby Spencer, the fiery manager who is the team’s best asset when they are winning and their worst when they are losing. But it is his friendship with Dave Leonard, the quiet, steady veteran catcher, that would be most crucial to his success, and to his ability to pick up the pieces when all seems lost.
More important than the wins and losses of the hapless Brooklyn Dodgers and Roy’s ride to stardom is the story of his own determination to make good in spite of the odds, and his ability to find the courage to come back when he is beaten down and nearly written off. Gutsy, selfless and aggressive on the field, quiet and unassuming off the field, the Kid from Tomkinsville is one of the most likeable and memorable heroes of baseball fiction. The cliff-hanger ending of this book will only leave you thirsting for more, and fortunately the story of Roy Tucker continues on in World Series and The Kid Comes Back . If you love baseball, especially the nostalgic kind played in the 1940’s, I highly recommend that you read all three.