You are going to browse a long time before you come across a new book as pleasurable to read as Roger Kahn's Good Enough to Dream ( Doubleday, $16.95). And you should read it before it becomes a movie, as it surely will, because you don't have to be a fan to enjoy this true baseball story.
When Kahn took over as a controlling stockholder and president of the Utica (N.Y.) Blue Sox in the New York-Penn Class A league in 1983, this was the situation:
?The Blue Sox players were rejects from major league farm teams—100%. Utica was the only "independent" team of the 12 in the league—indeed, the only one in organized baseball. The others were stocked with real "prospects" and run by parent clubs in the majors.
?Kahn's accountant could make no sense of the team's books, except that he could tell the new prez was knee-deep in debt. He couldn't even turn on the lights—most games were played at night—until he paid the previous year's bill.
?On the road, motelkeepers ducked the Blue Sox for similar reasons, and the team traveled on a school bus designed to seat kids, not 175-pound athletes.
?The team's last lawyer had been murdered, amid rumors of Mafia involvement in the killing.
?The team's home field would become a swamp after even a moderate drizzle, and reliable forecasters were anticipating the wettest summer in years.
This, and much more, made it perfectly reasonable for Blue Sox manager Jim Gattis to tell Kahn that "before this summer ends, one day you're gonna ask yourself what the hell you're doing in Utica. I guarantee it."
On the other hand, there were these pluses:
?Though occasionally out of control, Gattis was baseball-sharp, intelligent, a good teacher and driven to win. Joanne Gerace, Kahn's general manager and one of only two women holding G.M. jobs at the time, was utterly devoted to the Sox and knew her Utica. (When Kahn asked her how good the players he was inheriting were, the answer she gave became the title of this book.)