Michael Sokolove






Warrior Girls

 

 

 

The Ticket Out
Darryl Strawberry and The Boys of Crenshaw

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The year was 1979 and the fifteen teenagers on the Crenshaw High Cougars were the most talented team in the history of high school baseball. They were pure ballplayers, sluggers and sweet fielders who played with unbridled joy and breathtaking skill.

The national press converged on Crenshaw. So many scouts gravitated to their games that they took up most of the seats in the bleachers. Even the Crenshaw ballfield was a sight to behold -- groomed by the players themselves, picked clean of every pebble, it was the finest diamond in all of inner-city Los Angeles. On the outfield fences, the gates to the outside stayed locked against the danger and distraction of the streets. Baseball, for these boys, was hope itself. They had grown up with the notion that it could somehow set things right -- a vague, unexpressed, but persistent hope that even if life was rigged, baseball might be fair.

And for a while it seemed they were right. Incredibly, most of of this team -- even several of the boys who sat on the bench -- were drafted into professional baseball. Two of them, Darryl Strawberry and Chris Brown, would reunite as teammates on a National League All-Star roster. But Michael Sokolove's The Ticket Out is more a story of promise denied than of dreams fulfilled. Because in Sokolove's brilliantly reported poignant and powerful tale, the lives of these gifted athletes intersect with the realities of being poor, urban, and black in America. What happened to these young men is a harsh reminder of the ways inspiration turns to frustration when the bats and balls are stowed and the crowd's applause dies down.

Just as Friday Night Lights portrayed the impact of high school sports on the life of a Texas community, and There Are No Children Here examined the viselike grip of poverty on minority youngsters, The Ticket Out presents an unforgettable tale of families grasping for opportunities, of athletes praying for one chance to make it big, of all of us hoping that the will to succeed can triumph over the demons haunting our city streets.

Reviews
"A terrific read, made to work by Sokolove's insightful reporting and deft writing . . . a sad, powerful, thoughtful, totally engrossing work."
--The Chicago Tribune

"A single bad choice could destroy their dream . . . The Ticket Out raises some serious questions about the meaning of fair play."
--Sports Illustrated

"It's been more than a decade since the publication of Friday Night Lights, a profound work of journalism examining a high school football team and the town that created the team. . . . The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw elevates that genre to a new peak . . . In many ways, this book is classic new journalism as defined by Tom Wolfe -- i.e., lots of 'status details' written in a novel-like format. It's simply journalism at its best . . ."
--Rocky Mountain News

"Michael Sokolove knows a good story when he sees one, and the tale he tells in The Ticket Out about the often sorrowful lives of Darryl Strawberry and his high school baseball teammates is powerful indeed."
--The Washington Post

"Even if it had nothing to do with the game, even if Sokolove had just followed the varied trajectories of nine random friends from the Crenshaw yearbook, The Ticket Out would still make a fine survey of poverty and race in America. But by clinging to a long-shot dream, the Boys Of Crenshaw encountered a humbling reality that's all the more poignant."
--The Onion

"Sokolove has managed the extraordinary feat of writing an inspirational sports book that is neither sentimental nor didactic."
--Philadelphia Inquirer

"Superb investigative interviewing . . . a fascinating narrative."
--The Los Angeles Daily News

"The best baseball books transcend baseball. Last year's Moneyball by Michael Lewis, for example . . . The Ticket Out is such a book. It's as heartbreaking as the game . . ."
--The Montreal Gazette

". . . A story of promise wasted and dreams deferred . . . is the focus of a narrative defined by its compassionate, clear-eyed tone."
--Entertainment Weekly

"[The Ticket Out] is a joy, if such a word can be attached to a bleak story of so much disappointment and squandered potential."
--San Jose Mercury News

"(Sokolove's) protagonists provide rich material for informed speculation about race in America, the role of amateur and professional sports and whether high school roles carry over into the remainder of a person's life."
--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Sokolove is top-notch reporter, as evidenced by his last book that detailed the lies and myths of Pete Rose long before Pete himself finally confirmed them in his own tome."
--New York Daily News

"Sokolove crafts these stories with a casual but insightful grace that will send shivers up the shine of any baseball fan but still touch a read who's never heard of Ted Williams. The Ticket Out is one of the saddest books you'll never want to put down."
--Washingtonian Magazine (Online)

"Sokolove's book is an absorbing look at the 1979 Crenshaw High School team that he calls the greatest collection of high-school talent ever assembled."
--The Portland Oregonian

"[Sokolove] has written a passionate, heartbreaking yet sympathetic look at what happens when schoolyard dreams meet the 'cold business' of professional baseball."
--Publishers Weekly

"More than the sad saga of Darryl Strawberry, The Ticket Out examines and explodes an American myth: that athletic skill offers a magic shortcut to happiness and success. Mike Sokolove is a journalist who finds in sports a window to deeper, more important things. His affectionate but clear-eyed story reaffirms that character (not talent) is destiny, and that even the most amazingly gifted athlete remains a product of his community, his family, and most important, himself."
--Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down

"The Ticket Out is an emotional detective story about baseball, moving and thought-provoking. It is a first-rate book for anyone who seeks to understand the serious human narrative we mistakenly call a game."
--Sally Jenkins, coauthor with Lance Armstrong of It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts


Published by Simon & Schuster
April 2004/Hardcover
$24.95US
ISBN: 0-7432-2673-9
 


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Michael Sokolove
author of The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw
and Warrior Girls
A contributing writer to The New York Times
Copyright 2004-2013 Michael Sokolove

Drama High
to be released September 2013

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