A Pitch for Justice: A Legal Thriller

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This is an admission that may come as a surprise to seasoned Grisham watchers, accustomed as they are to his line about the best moment in his legal career being the day he gave it up. On the other hand I do enjoy watching the law and while the profession may have its problems, I have sold zillions of books out of magnifying them. At 13, Grisham's only ambition was to become a professional baseballer. While he never succeeded, he has left a lasting mark on the sport by peppering his books with baseball references and building his own junior ground.

Cove Creek Park sits in the middle of the Virginia countryside, 20 miles outside Charlottesville, on what used to be cow pasture, but is now six immaculately-mown baseball fields, with matching dugouts and pavilions.

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So whereas most American children have to make do with bumpy dirt pitches and rusting wire fences, the youngsters of Albemarle County play their baseball on smooth grass, behind sturdy netting. And it's not just the facilities that are immaculate, but the behaviour, too. In line with the Grisham books, all swearing is forbidden there's a large sign saying No Profanity , as is bad sportsmanship and tantrums. He believes that playing baseball is a great way for kids to develop character. He maintains they each need to win at least one game per season and lose at least one game, too.

Mind you, Grisham says, coming up with the philosophy was the easy part. The difficult bit was building Cove Creek. A reminder of the blasting work still stands at the park today, in the form of a large boulder with the sculpture of a baseball catcher on top, made out of scrap metal by one of the local parents. Which meant that Grisham had to shift a fair-sized mountain of novels in order to pay for it all.

But even though he financed Cove Creek Park's construction, and continues to subsidise its running today, there's not a mention of him to be found in the entire place. And this in a country where even the humblest Holiday Inn has a brass plaque bigging up the firm's founder. A lot of the time, too, he just comes to watch. Which is how it all began in the first place, since the original idea came out of father Grisham having to drive long distances in order to take his children to play baseball or softball the girls' version, also played at Cove Creek.

You can tell by his proud beam how much satisfaction this brings. Not that baseball is the only cause to which Grisham contributes. He's a big supporter of the post-Hurricane-Katrina fund Rebuild The Coast, he funds a scholarship for southern writers at Mississippi University, and as a lifelong Democrat and a distant fifth cousin of Bill Clinton, he helped Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign, putting on a big fund-raising event for her in Charlottesville.

By and large, though, he is as nonchalant about his philanthropic work as he is of his writing achievements, his general stance being that he is delighted but astonished to have done so well. Dig a bit further, though, and you find that he approaches the job of authorship in consistently businesslike fashion, and has not let himself get too grand to be edited. Someone who can testify to this from personal experience is Oliver Johnson, Grisham's UK editor for the past 20 years. What boosted the rewrite count on this project, says Grisham, was the fact that he'd never before written for this age group nine to 12 year-olds.

Only, my editors said that it was best not even to mention the word 'rape' in a book for kids this age, so I took their advice and removed the reference from the second draft. On the other hand, I was worried about putting anything into the plot whereby Theo might be in danger, or under threat, but my editors said 'Hey, don't worry, kids this age can cope with that'. Hence the presence in the book of one Omar Cheepe, a particularly thuggish private investigator, who takes exception to Theo's meddling.

Two other characters also arrived late in the book's life. The first was Theo's school friend April Finnemore, introduced because, up until then, his closest confidant had been his year-old Uncle Ike. She read through the final draft and said: 'I can't believe you've written a boy who's an only child and you haven't given him a dog! Step forward, tail wagging, Judge the mongrel mutt, who eats breakfast each morning beside Theo they like the same brand of cereal , after Mr and Mrs Boone, workaholic lawyers, have rushed off to the office.

So, far from being polished off in record time, Theodore Boone took the author just as long per page as any of his normal novels, working at the same pace as always. I write straight onto the computer, but it's not connected to the internet, in case I get hacked into," Grisham says. Every morning I wake at 6am or 6. Not something he could have foreseen 40 years ago when, unlike young Theo, all he wanted to be was a professional sportsman. Luckily for thriller readers all over the world, those dreams were snuffed out early, although he still has the odd sporting highlight to remember.

Asked for his best ever moment, he pauses for a second. There wasn't a large crowd there on the day, but the cheerleaders sure saw it. And that was enough. Call or visit books. There is also a website at theodoreboone. It looks so much better. But she does love to make those big, round circles with her red pen. It all started when my UK editor Oliver Johnson took me to a Chelsea match and, as a joke, I started cheering for the opposition, which was Bournemouth.

Somehow it got reported in the papers that I was a big fan of theirs, and when the club got into financial difficulties, I was contacted and asked if I would like to take it over. It was a nice offer, but I declined. Love puzzles? We discuss current events around baseball, and, recently, we explored the many angles of a fight that occurred between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Bluejays.

In light of that, one of the group's longtime members Harold Kasselman let me know that he recently wrote a book titled A Pitch For J I have been a baseball aficionado from practically the time I was born. In light of that, one of the group's longtime members Harold Kasselman let me know that he recently wrote a book titled A Pitch For Justice that he self published on Amazon, which is about what would happen if a baseball player actually was prosecuted for his actions on the field in a court of law.

The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are divisional rivals and have boiling blood between them. In a key three game series, a Mets pitcher hits a Phillies player in the hand, breaking his finger and putting him on the disabled list. The Phillies manager orders retribution; however, his pitchers do not want to face lengthy suspensions and try to get out of throwing at Mets batters.

In the second game of the series, Mets second baseman Ken Leyton slides hard into second to break up a double play. Another Phillies player heads to the disabled list. The Phillies manager orders retribution again, and the next game, rookie pitcher Tim Charles hits Leyton in the head. Even though Charles claims he did not mean to throw at Leyton, in light of the events of the series, both he and his manager are ejected and subsequently handed long suspensions.

The next day, the unthinkable happens: Leyton dies as a result of his injuries. His widow, Theresa, does not have time to process her loss and takes matters into her own hands: she takes her case to the DA's office and will not rest until Charles is behind bars. What ensues is a fast reading law and order thriller. In addition to Charles and his legal team, we meet prosecuting attorney Jaime Brooks, the first officer in the DA's office who is assigned to the case. Brooks is a middle aged bachelor who is due to retire from the office at the end of the year.

This case would be the crowning jewel of his career. In the first portion of the pre trial activities, one of the grand jurists Barbara Jay falls for Brooks. To counter the courtroom drama, Kasselman has Brooks and Jay develop a budding romance, which is a tension relief in the course of a heated trial. I enjoyed the book a great deal. Only one time in the history of baseball has a player died from on field injuries.

Players know they are taking a risk every time they step into the batter's box that a pitched ball of over 90 miles per hour could hit them. Despite these risks, the last on field casualty occurred in Brawls do occur; however, but the suspensions are usually kept to a minimal ten games or less, even if punches are thrown.

Kasselman has the combatants in his scenario suspended for the duration of the season pending outcome of the court case. While this may be extreme, I believe that players should be handed more lengthy suspensions for their actions on the field. This book was a fun baseball read for summer.

It spurred some interesting conversations in my family as to whether or not an athlete's actions on the field should be punishable in a court of law. I was able to read it over the course of a day and recommend it to baseball and legal fans alike. View all 19 comments. Our own Goodreads author, Harold Kasselman, has written an outstanding and intriguing novel "A Pitch for Justice: A Legal Thriller" that keeps the pages turning and your mind working overtime, turning over and over your personal feelings about certain controversial but traditional tactics in professional sports.

In this case it's the "bean ball" in baseball. The story is about a young, 20 year old pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies, Tim Charles, who hits a NY Mets batter, Ken Leyton in the h Our own Goodreads author, Harold Kasselman, has written an outstanding and intriguing novel "A Pitch for Justice: A Legal Thriller" that keeps the pages turning and your mind working overtime, turning over and over your personal feelings about certain controversial but traditional tactics in professional sports. This action culminated in a several year running feud between the 2 teams resulting in retaliations from both sides.

Tradition is it seems, that players take care of their own by "doing unto others before they do you". If you hit my batter on purpose, I'm going to hit yours. The problem is that Ken Leyton died the next day from the "bean ball" thrown by Charles. Fans from both teams were up in arms and the grieving widow wants Charles charged for murder. The clincher is that the coach and teammates were pressuring Charles to retaliate. Kasselman, the author and a lifelong Phillies fan, has been a criminal prosecutor for 30 years and very capably took me through the court battle and the emotional battle as well.

On one hand, Charles, barely out of high school, was looking at a murder charge and maybe life in prison. On the other hand is the young Leyton widow and son who will be without husband and father. The story had me saying to myself, that the batter knows of the risks when he steps up to the plate. Leyton had recently been involved in a "dirty, cleats high slide" into second base injuring the Phillies shortstop. A melee erupted on the field. When Leyton stepped up to bat, he must have been aware of the risk. Charles feeling the pressure, did not want to hurt anyone.

What would your assessment be? Should this action call for settlement in criminal court or should professional baseball authorities take the responsibility for meting out punishment. This is fiction, but in , it really happened to a Cleveland Indians batter, hit by a NY Yankees pitcher. The batter later died from brain hemorrhaging.

In that case, there were no criminal charges. If you love sports and books about sports, this one is for you. View all 3 comments. Mar 09, Marilyn Smith rated it it was amazing. What I didn't know about Baseball. It is an eye opener. I enjoy baseball and have followed both the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves. I will view baseball with a whole new viewpoint from now on. Lookout pitchers i am watching you.

Oct 11, Tim rated it really liked it. Very nice crime novel based on baseball. The plot was well thought out and the characters both the ADA and the pitcher were very easy to relate to. The best part about this novel, however, was the thought-provoking premise.

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How would sports change if acts on the field of play could be prosecuted as crimes? Highly recommend this novel! Feb 19, Mike Rossetti rated it really liked it. A Pitch for Justice, by Harold Kasselman, is a well-told story that weaves the American pastime of baseball into an interesting legal scenario. The matter-of-fact method used to convey the story makes the reader feel as if he or she is watching a live feed of the trial and circumstances surrounding the unfolding legal drama.

The surprise ending makes for an unexpected plot twist and provides a compelling conclusion to the book. Some have mentioned in earlier reviews issues with editing and punctu A Pitch for Justice, by Harold Kasselman, is a well-told story that weaves the American pastime of baseball into an interesting legal scenario.

A few instances of dialogue are difficult to follow, but for the most part, the story is well-told and genuine, and it presents a new and innovative storyline. I would look forward to another book from Kasselman and would recommend this to anyone that likes legal thrillers and stories involving baseball.

May 07, Kent rated it liked it. To be honest, I did not exactly read the whole book. I read the beginning, scanned the middle and read the ending. I did not like the documentary style, but I must admit that it was realistic and had me fooled. I started googling the names because I thought it was about real events. Some of the conversations annoyed me. They kept saying each others name in every qoute. I have later learned that sport show host in the US actually talk like that :- The subject is interesting.

What kind of crimes can you get away with on the playing field without being prosecuted for violence, or as in this case, murder? I have seen some acts in sports that could have merited prosecution. Well, there is no doubt that I am biased and have an interest in this book. I wrote it.


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It may not be award winning literary fiction , but I feel confident that you'll enjoy the premise, the evolution of the plot, the legal challenges inspired by the premise, and the courtroom and baseball endings. Thanks for adding it to your to read list. View all 4 comments. May 04, Steve Campbell rated it really liked it Shelves: baseball. I found this book to be quite enjoyable.

I love baseball and enjoy a good courtroom drama, and this delivered satisfaction in both areas. The book explores what might happen if a law court got involved in a case in which a pitcher hit a batter, resulting in the death of that batter. I found the premise plausible and fascinating. The narrative was well paced, and the many twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing until the end. Jul 18, Gerry Claes rated it really liked it. Only one time in the history of major league baseball was a player killed during a game.

Carl Mays, a submarine pitcher for the Yankees hit Ray Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, in the left temple area. Helmets were not worn at that time and the pitch knocked Chapman to the ground. Chapman was able to walk off the field with the help of other players. Chapman died at AM the next mo Only one time in the history of major league baseball was a player killed during a game.

Chapman died at AM the next morning after an unsuccessful operation to stop the bleeding.

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The police questioned Mays and he claimed the act was an accident and he was not throwing at Chapman. The District Attorney took Mays at his word and decided to close the case without filing any charges. The DA felt that it was a tragic accident that was unavoidable in a game that had inherent risks. There are a number of incidents that precede this tragedy, all of them revolving around the "code of honor" players follow to protect their team mates and to deliver payback for a perceived wrong. The remainder of the book is more about the legal issues after the Phillies pitcher is charged with first degree murder.

The book poses some thought provoking questions, ie: Should a pitcher be charged with first degree murder if he intentionally throws at a batters head and kills him? Should the pitcher be charged with manslaughter? Should no charges be made since this is an inherent risk all ball players must accept Should the manager who instructs the pitcher to throw at a batter with the intention of causing injury be charged as an accomplice?

Is a baseball in the hands of a fastball pitcher a lethal weapon? What risks does a batter assume when facing a pitcher who throws an mph fastball? The legal proceedings are right out of a John Grisham novel. The chapters on the grand jury investigation were quite educational for me since I really did not know how a grand jury investigation works. The trial itself presents the issues that must be considered in order to arrive at a just verdict. Even if you aren't a fan of baseball I think you will enjoy this book. Jan 16, Marilou George rated it it was amazing. Author Harold Kasselman has given us a uniquely realistic story of the ramifications that could result from a baseball pitch hitting a batter in the head and ultimately resulting in the death of the batter.

Is this a situation that should be handled by the Commissioner of Baseball or is it one that should be treated as a crime and brought before a Grand Jury? The rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets is palpable and retaliation is the name of the game. Rookie pitcher Tim Charles is embroiled Author Harold Kasselman has given us a uniquely realistic story of the ramifications that could result from a baseball pitch hitting a batter in the head and ultimately resulting in the death of the batter.

Rookie pitcher Tim Charles is embroiled in a conspiracy endorsed by manager Buck Sawyer to throw a pitch to intimidate and hit second baseman for the Mets Kenny Leyton. The pitch hits Leyton in the head and he drops to the ground. He suffers a concussion and against doctor's orders goes home to rest.

The next day he is having great difficulty and is rushed to the emergency room where he subsequently dies from his injuries. Leyton's Widow Theresa masks her grief behind anger and vengeance and is determined to get justice for her husband's death no matter what the cost. This book brings to the surface the competitive nature of baseball and the lengths that players are expected to go to in order to be competitive and support the players on their team. Does the fact that this type of retaliation has always been part of the game make it acceptable? This is not just a book about baseball; it is also about the morals and values of those in the game and the inner workings of the legal system in their quest for justice.

The process of the Grand Jury deciding to prosecute and the inner workings of this process as well as the trial that ensues are riveting and informative. You have a glimpse into the inner workings of the legal system and the compromises and deals that are made before a case gets to trial. The characters of Tim Charles the pitcher, Buck Sawyer the team manager and Jamie Brooks the prosecutor and an avid baseball fan are extremely well-developed. They successfully draw you into their lives as the drama and intensity of the legal issues bring them together.

This is a very realistic story written with knowledge and depth. The Author's background as an attorney is evident as he leads the reader through the court system with intelligence and ease. The style of writing is easy to follow, filled with interesting characters and portrays the inner working of the legal system with great fascination. View 2 comments. Feb 08, Janet rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Baseball fans and law enthusiasists. I recently read this novel while on a day, guided vacation tour.

As I got deeper into the book, I couldn't wait for the guide to stop talking so that I could continue reading. I felt a little guilty not watching out the window all the time, but not guilty enough to make me stop reading entirely. Kasselman also provided some interesting side stories on several of the characters in order Baseball fans and law enthusiasts, I highly recommend that you read A Pitch for Justice by Harold Kasselman. Kasselman also provided some interesting side stories on several of the characters in order to break up the legalese and baseball jargon.

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These stories helped make me care more about the individuals involved rather than just viewing the book as a documentary. Overall this book was a great first novel! I look forward to reading his future books. Now on to the more documentary portions of the novel: The concept of considering a pitched ball a lethal weapon put a new spin on how baseball might be played in the future. It also made me think about the other high-contact sports like football, ice hockey, and rugby.

Will we start having the police on the sidelines waiting to arrest any player that gets too rough? I don't think reasonable sports fans would ever want the laws to go in that direction. Roughness is all part of the game, in my opinion. Professional players get paid huge salaries to take the risk that they might have a career-ending injury at any time.

They have access to all kinds of training and protective equipment, if used properly, to minimize their odds of severe injuries.


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  • Having said this, I still wish that everyone would remember that these sports are still just games. No one should ever die because of playing a game. Feb 04, R. A Pitch for Justice is a novel that combines the great sport of baseball with a good old-fashioned legal trial that kept me guessing throughout.

    The book started with an excellent premise, although it was one I thought was a little more speculative and hypothetical than realistic There was one line in particular, and I'm going to paraphrase it, which stated that committing a murder or manslaughter during a sporting event doesn't mean you automatically get A Pitch for Justice is a novel that combines the great sport of baseball with a good old-fashioned legal trial that kept me guessing throughout. There was one line in particular, and I'm going to paraphrase it, which stated that committing a murder or manslaughter during a sporting event doesn't mean you automatically get away with it.

    So true and I have no doubt that if a player were killed by a beaning they might well end up on trial and that Pitch for Justice would be a rationale. The book is an overall good story, too as there is a love interest which develops over time, a few surprises that come out of the woodwork and are likely derived from the authors's plus year career in the law.

    I learned a lot about the real workings of a legal case from this book--I especially enjoyed the grand jury process and the way the jurors impacted the charges.

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    This was a book I picked up on a Friday and finished by Sunday. Definitely put me in the mood for baseball season. I truly was not sure which way the verdict would come out and I'm not sure if I would have voted the same way if I was on the jury. Kasselman's book does an effective job of creating sympathy for characters who are on opposite sides of the issue which means there's not any cliche of good guy-bad guys but instead a realistic depiction where each side does their best in making their "pitch" for what they believe to be justice.

    Jan 03, Jason Stanley rated it it was amazing. A Pitch For Justice is a great book and you have found a new author to follow. This book will delight you all the way from the realism of the set-up, the characters that build the story, and the twists and turns bringing this story to some unexpected places.

    Is it murder? That is the question that many people try to figure out — and I found myself wondering the same thing. Given that I knew exactly what happened it is a testament to the excellence of the writing that I was wondering if a legal murder or manslaughter had happened. This is a suspense sports psychology novel of the best type.

    You will learn a lot about baseball — the nitty-gritty insider stuff that only real players or die-hard fans understand. My only hope is that Mr. Kasselman publishes his next novel soon. Mar 04, John Pearce rated it really liked it.

    Harold Kasselman's "A Pitch for Justice" is not the sort of book I'd normally stay up late reading, but I found its combination of baseball and a tense courtroom drama absorbing. At one level it's a straightforward story of a young man pushed across a bright line by a mentor he admires, to the point that he will throw a fatal beanball to avenge perceived slights and injuries inflicted by the other team.

    In other words, it's schoolyard bullying brought to the major leagues. There are interesting s Harold Kasselman's "A Pitch for Justice" is not the sort of book I'd normally stay up late reading, but I found its combination of baseball and a tense courtroom drama absorbing. There are interesting subplots aplenty. The victim's widow, who morphs from faithful wife to vindictive harridan and then abandons any pretense of self-control; the DA who gets rid of the case so it won't endanger her re-election; the coach who zealously manipulates a year-old pitcher after a more experienced one turns him down ; and a nice romantic subplot between the prosecutor and a night-club singer who was a member of the grand jury.

    Given Kellerman's background as a prosecutor I suspect the assistant DA Jaime is an autobiographical figure; he publicly credits his wife Robin as the model for the singer. The book would benefit from a strong editor, both for the story line and basic grammar and punctuation, which is why I gave it four stars rather than five, but it was a good read that I enjoyed. Jan 08, Laura DeBruce rated it it was amazing. A Pitch for Justice is based on a nightmare scenario that takes place during a baseball game in front of a stadium of fans and a national television audience.

    What follows is a well-written, detailed and fascinating account of the prosecution of a young pitcher who throws a fatal pitch. This is a work of fiction, and even though I was aware of the fact, the book is so well-researched and true-to-life that I found myself double-checking the dates and the last note from the author just to be sure. I'm not a big baseball fan, but you don't have to be a fan of the sport to be intrigued by A Pitch for Justice. Kasselman deftly draws his reader into the story and the drama that leads up to the tense and exciting moments of the trial.

    Kasselman does a great job of showing all sides of the controversy from the devastated widow to the cynical but hardworking lawyers and the young man on trial. I found myself looking into the early case referred to in the book of a real-life instance when a batter was killed by a pitch.