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Steal Away Home


Steal Away Home

Owen Cross has a dream, planted in his heart by his father and nurtured by his own skillful ball-playing abilities: to play in the majors. To stand on that 17-inch home plate in the green field enclosing the baseball diamond, bat in hand, reading the pitch and swinging at just the right moment. And he is finally there, or almost: in a cab headed for Yankee Stadium. He’s been called up from the farm team to play, tonight, for the Baltimore Orioles against the Yankees home team.

Yet this moment --- planned for, hoped for and dreamed of for so long --- tastes not quite right. It’s bittersweet, not the expected perfect mouthful of flavor for the long-awaited feast of the goal fulfilled. Because along the way, Owen has suffered both mystery and loss. The cabbie is talkative, though, and tells him that the Orioles will never beat the Yankees and that he should watch out for the ghosts of the stadium, who come back every October (and apparently help carry the home team to victory).

The cabbie is right, though probably not in the way he meant. The ghosts are waiting to appear, but these particular ones are from Owen’s past: his dad, who had put both ball and bat in the boy’s hand when he was little more than a baby and trained him up with them, and the one girl he thought he’d marry. They should have been here for this moment, yet both are gone, one for years. But Owen has a game to play, so he checks in at the clubhouse and gets an Orioles uniform with his name curved across the back and his dad’s number 19 in the center.

"In STEAL AWAY HOME, Billy Coffey crafts a story that takes us between the current-day realization of a man’s dream and the events in his past that lost him everything."

Welcomed by the other players who christen him “Hillbilly” after hearing him talk, Owen selects a spot in the dugout at the end of the row and gets ready for batting practice. When he steps into the cage wearing his new spikes, Owen senses the rightness of things; he is supposed to be here. His mind carries him through the greats who have stood on this diamond and back home to his dad and the fields there in the Blue Ridge Mountains of home. He almost misses the pitch and hits a foul. He makes up for it, though, with a series of perfect hits that go high into the stands, amazing the team and the fans who have come out early, hoping to catch a stray ball. Owen, the catcher, has always been a great hitter. And while his body is there at the game, his heart and mind wander through the lost days of high school baseball and Micky, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

Owen met Micky on a midsummer day when he was out for a wander in his new hometown. Hoping for arrowheads, he had headed up the hill (said to be cursed by the boys he had met in pickup games of baseball), sat down against the single oak tree and absorbed the view: the edge of town if he looked one way, the countryside on the other, and an unknown girl tramping towards him. In a spot where neither expected anyone else to be, Owen and Micky’s friendship was sealed and grew to be the most important one in both of their lives. She cautioned him that no one could ever know of it, though, as the Shantytown kids and the town kids never, ever mixed. Plus, her dad would skin her if he knew.

But the two met anyway on the hill, every day after Owen’s baseball practice, and ignored each other in school. Love built on the steady rock of friendship grew, as did plans for Owen to save money for an apartment for Micky so that when he headed off to college to play baseball, she could come with him and get away from her abusive dad. But an event, a mystery, is coming one night that will divide the two more surely and perhaps finally than any invisible line between townies and Shanties ever could.

In STEAL AWAY HOME, Billy Coffey crafts a story that takes us between the current-day realization of a man’s dream and the events in his past that lost him everything. Inning by inning, we watch the Orioles against the Yankees and see the plays that advance the score as Owen waits for his time at bat. Yet all the moments that brought him to the Show are told against this current-day backdrop --- the love he felt for Micky, the event that divided them and shattered their relationship, and the mystery beneath it all. The girl he loved and lost seemed gone forever, but maybe (just maybe) he’s going to see her again.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on February 16, 2018

Steal Away Home
by Billy Coffey

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  • ISBN-10: 0718084446
  • ISBN-13: 9780718084448