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Play by Play: Baseball, Radio and Life in the Last Chance League

“When Neal returned home after being captured during the First Gulf War, he said he felt lost, jumpy, and was having nightmares. In other words, he was suffering from PTSD. "I couldn't face another border crossing. I couldn't face covering another war," he told me. So he sought refuge in his beloved sport, baseball, announcing play by play from the safety of a booth high over the field. Then wrote a fine book about it. Perhaps a subtitle might have been: "When things Fall Apart." Every soldier and war correspondent knows that it's hard to come home.” –Gretel Ehrlich


Book Synopsis: Following nearly twenty-five years as a prominent voice at National Public Radio, after being shelled, rocketed, bombed and held captive in the desert as one of their top foreign correspondents, Neal Conan decided to pursue a lifelong dream—to become, of all things, a baseball announcer. And that’s what he did, specifically with the Aberdeen Arsenal, a franchise of the independent Atlantic League. Not the majors, alas, but it afforded him a true opportunity to use the surge of conflicting emotions that we refer to as midlife crisis to rethink what he’d done and what he was doing. It also allowed Neal to marry his two lifelong passions—radio and baseball—and gave him the chance to return to the grassroots of each. Play by Play is Conan’s diary of the 2000 season—Aberdeen’s and his. Through the lens of the minor leagues, Conan captures the soul of a great sport and reveals the ways men face age, come to terms with their limitations and ambitions and look for new challenges when they’re no longer young phenoms. In the end, Conan’s experiences, the things he’s learned, help him refocus his own life and reappreciate the things he has, giving him direction of where he needs to go. 


Although out of print, used copies of “Play by Play” can still be found online here.  

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