The Iowa Writers’ Workshop alum followed the Clinton LumberKings’ 2010 in an attempt to capture whatever stereotype pops into someone’s head when thinking of the lowly Single-A teams in the Midwest and he captures it beautifully. It has all of the checkpoints for a classic baseball story (hardened manager, an up-and-coming star and a player struggling to get playing time), but that is not all Mann focuses on. He also delves deep into the Iowan town’s history and people to engulf us in his world.
The book, however, isn’t a straightforward non-fiction tale of a baseball team. It’s half of that and the other half is a memoir. Mann injects himself into the story and discusses his relationship with the players. At first it seemed only to serve a purpose of revealing who he was and why he was there; and it worked. Later on it became apparent that this was a blended memoir and that his character is just as important as any of the players or fans. This portion took up a lofty amount of the book and was a jarring reminder that this is one man’s view on this minor league town. While he was able to engulf us his world, he failed at times to place the reader into the LumberKings world. The story made me feel like an outsider, much like Mann himself during the season. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t what I expected when I picked the book up.
Class A wasn’t as an enthralling of a read as I hoped for, but it was interesting. The story is there. The setting, the characters, the drama. All there. The execution, while masterful in its own right, was its biggest downfall. The blended genre made it interesting, but it also made it less interesting at times when it should have been engrossing.
It’s a solid read for any baseball fan looking to bite into another book. It’s a nice read for anyone who wants to write to see what it takes to write something fascinating and how to craft a book. It’s a pass for someone who anyone wanting to read Bull Durham in book form.
Verdict: I’m glad I read it and would recommend it to the right person.