Cover image for The last best league : one summer, one season, one dream
The last best league : one summer, one season, one dream
Collins, Jim (James C.)
Personal Author:
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxx, 269 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV875.C364 C65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV875.C364 C65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Every summer, in ten small towns across Cape Cod, young college baseball players showcase their talents in hopes of making it to the "show." A vicious filter, the league has produced one out of every six major league players, from Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Helton to Jeff Bagwell and Barry Zito.In this brilliantly crafted narrative, Jim Collins chronicles a season in the life of the Chatham A's, perhaps the most celebrated team in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Set against a seemingly bucolic backdrop--a well-heeled resort town on the bend of the outer Cape--the story charts the changing fortunes of a handful of players, all of whom battle slumps and self-doubt in an effort to impress major league scouts and make the playoffs. Several players go home with career-threatening injuries; one blue-chip prospect fulfills great expectations while another is dubbed "the biggest disappointment on the Cape." A pitcher hides an arm injury while negotiating a minor league contract; another leaves early to tend to his dying father. And nearly all look to the following year's major league draft as a barometer of their worth. Far more than a baseball book, The Last Best League is an engrossing story about dreams fulfilled and dreams destroyed, about Cape Cod and the rites of summer, about coming of age in America.

Author Notes

Jim Collins holds B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University. A visiting professor of business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business, he is a management consultant. He has written several articles for the Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fortune magazine, California Management Review and Stanford Magazine.

He is the co-author of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies; Managing the Small to Mid-Sized Firm: Readings, Cases and Instructor's Manual; Beyond Entrepreneurship; and Great by Choice. He has also worked with Hewlett Packard and McKinsey & Co.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Cape Cod Baseball League is not well known except to New Englanders and professional baseball scouts (one of every six major-league players competes in it). The summer league, which attracts many of the best collegiate and amateur players from around the country, provides young players an opportunity to play in a competitive environment while functioning as adults in a community. The players typically room with local families, hold jobs with local businesses, and become part of the fabric of local life. Despite the small-town atmosphere, there can be a great deal at stake. Collins, former editor of Yankee magazine and a former college player with major-league dreams, understands the league, the game, and the odd dynamic that exists when teammates are vying for a ticket on the first leg of the journey to the major leagues. His profiles of the players, coaches, and local citizens who come together in the Cape Cod League offers a captivating, timeless brew of scuffed baseballs, white sand, and pristine dreams. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Cape Cod Baseball League, which began in the 19th century as local entertainment for summer residents, has evolved into the jewel of American amateur baseball. Sanctioned by the NCAA, the league invites the best college players to come to breezy seaside communities to work on their game during what amounts to their off-season-late June through mid-August-without sacrificing their amateur status. And come they do, to one of the 10 teams sponsored by small towns and New England businesses, staffed by volunteers, the players hosted by local families and given day jobs as clerks, seafood haulers and day-camp counselors. Collins, a former editor of Yankee magazine and once a Dartmouth second baseman with dreams of the big leagues, brings a local historian's eye and the heart of a fan to a chronicle of one Cape Cod League team, the Chatham A's, during the 2002 season. He has produced a book that will be a treat to casual fans who might not know the process by which college players are courted by agents-graded as to character, body type and bat speed, and then tagged with a price. Collins wisely focuses his story on a handful of the most promising Chatham players, most memorably Wake Forest's slugging third baseman Jamie D'Antona, an extremely likable nutcase, for whom readers will find themselves rooting hard. There is also the undersized Blake Hanan, the brainy Princeton righty Tom Pauly and the sphinxlike load of a pitcher, Tim Stauffer. Their crusty manager, John Schiffner, adds a little spice and tobacco juice to the mix. Along the way, readers will gain an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball, as it once was, in the heart of local communities. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. (Apr.) FYI: About a dozen of the players on the Chatham A's were drafted by major league teams, including Tim Stauffer in the first round and D'Antona and Pauly in the second. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sportswriter Collins offers an insightful look at the Cape Cod Baseball League, which brings together many of the NCAA's top players to compete in an abbreviated schedule each summer. The league has served as a steppingstone for several major league stars, including Todd Helton, Nomar Garciaparra, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, and Barry Zito. The author focuses on the Chatham Athletics, led by manager John Schiffner. Collins traces the evolution of the 2002 Chatham A's, a team saddled with injuries, subpar performances, late arrivals, and untimely departures, with oft-injured southpaw pitcher Scott Hindman receiving a $170,000 contract, which, as he acknowledged, amounted to "seventeen thousand dollars for every inning I pitched in college." Slugger Jamie D'Antona battled his own immaturity and the league's wooden bats before returning to Wake Forest, while All-American pitcher Tim Stauffer was drafted in the first round but lost nearly $2 million in signing bonuses after informing the San Diego Padres about his sore arm. On a happier note, Tom Pauly grew during his stint with the Chatham A's, which then led to his stellar performance at Princeton, followed by his inking a lucrative deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Recommended for all public libraries.-Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Prologue: The Callp. xvii
1 Chathamp. 1
2 D'Antona Arrivesp. 21
3 Cold Waterp. 47
4 Legitimate Juicep. 73
5 One, Two, Three, Disgusting!p. 95
6 Fourth of Julyp. 111
7 The Universal Soldierp. 129
8 Something Like a Familyp. 145
9 Waiting for Hindmanp. 161
10 All-Starsp. 185
11 A Hard Ninetyp. 205
12 Homep. 221
Epilogue: The Draftp. 239
Appendix Ap. 259
Appendix Bp. 261
Appendix Cp. 263
Acknowledgmentsp. 267