At first glance, One Shot at Forever, is obviously a book about baseball. Don’t let the title fool you, however, because it’s really about so much more. Set against the backdrop of the 1970 and 1971 baseball seasons, Ballard tells to stories of Lynn Sweet, the Macon High School baseball players, their families, and their town. As a new English teacher, Sweet was already causing a stir in Macon, despite his popularity among his students. What with his long hair, bar patronage, and “dangerous reading assignments”, many parents were concerned. When he reluctantly agreed to coach the baseball team, he further confounded the community. Like his teaching methods, his coaching was profoundly unconventional. Practice became optional, the players worked out their own positions, and they warmed up to the soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar. Still, One Shot at Forever is hardly about Sweet exclusively. Ballard manages to weave the experiences of many people into one compelling story and illuminate the influence people can have over one another.
Fans of the underdog, (think of movies like Friday Night Lights, Miracle, and Mystery, Alaska) will be naturally drawn to the Macon Ironmen.