Tooke, C.W. 1976(?)–
Tooke, C.W. 1976(?)–
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and journalist. Former editor for Princeton Alumni Weekly.
Ballpark Blues (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to Salon.com and to periodicals, including New Jersey Monthly.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A second novel.
SIDELIGHTS: C.W. Tooke is a former sports journalist and magazine editor. His first novel, Ballpark Blues, tells the story of a disillusioned reporter, Russ Bryant, and an equally alienated batting phenomenon named Casey Fox as they navigate a world where the purity of the game has been replaced by corporate greed and artifice. "Tooke's vastly entertaining debut is, like all good baseball novels, about more than just baseball," observed a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In an interview for the Beacon Hill Times, Tooke said that he got the idea for the book while watching the movie Hoosiers, which is about a small championship basketball team in Indiana. He wondered what a modern sports story would be like in the current atmosphere of high salaries and fierce competition, where sports stars are identified while still in high school and promising young players can be watched on pay-per-view TV. "I loved baseball when I was a kid," he stated in the interview. "I still love the game but I don't love what we've done to it."
The character Casey is an exceptional hitter who deeply loves baseball, but he despises the inevitable trappings: unscrupulous agents, blithe marketers, and greedy team owners. His conflicting attitudes toward the game fuel his belligerence. Russ is a glum and unhappy sports reporter, miserable in his job and dispirited by what he sees as the poor state of sports journalism. Casey and Russ strike up a friendship, underpinned by their bad attitudes, their sometimes unconscious tendencies toward self-destructiveness, and their shared but unspoken feeling that there has to be something better for each of them, though they do not know what. As Casey rises through the ranks, he disdains other reporters and gives interviews only to Russ, which also boosts Russ's career. The friendship between player and reporter gets more complicated when Casey introduces Russ to his foster sister, Molly, a pragmatic, down-to-earth young woman who wants the best for both men, but who seems unaware of the romantic attraction both feel toward her. When Casey joins the Boston Red Sox, his career soars, and he helps propel the team into a fiercely fought pennant game. Meanwhile, Russ has to decide whether to take a dream job with Sports Illustrated, and Molly keeps urging both men to use their talents to their fullest.
"While Tooke does the contest full justice, he cares about the triangle as much as the diamond," observed the Kirkus Reviews critic. Kenneth Brewer, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, noted that the book's "plot is well-structured, and there is some sharp dialogue" throughout. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Ballpark Blues a "well-turned debut novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Beacon Hill Times (Boston, MA), April 1, 2003, "C.W. Took Talks about His New Novel."
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of Ballpark Blues, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, January 20, 2003, review of Ballpark Blues, p. 54.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2003, Kenneth Brewer, review of Ballpark Blues.
Washington Post Book World, May 18, 2003, Chris King, "Foul Play," review of Ballpark Blues, p. 9.