Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Book Review: The Greatest Show on Dirt by James Bailey

I do not normally read a lot of baseball fiction, but I wanted to support the efforts of James Bailey, who recently published a baseball novel: The Greatest Show on Dirt.  Mr. Bailey has been writing for Baseball America for many years and I know him from his review of my own self-published book in that publication. I wanted to return the favor, but didn't know what to expect given that it was his first novel.  I hope that it is his first of many novels as it turned out to be an outstanding read.

Before writing for Baseball America, Bailey worked with the minor league Durham Bulls in the 1990s which serves as the backdrop of The Greatest Show on Dirt.  The book gives a behind the scenes look at minor league baseball from a front office perspective.  More than that though, Bailey tells a great story with good humor, colorful characters and interesting plots.  Although it's a work of fiction, it certainly feels as if the characters and events are real.  It is reminiscent of Dirk Hayhurst's books about minor league baseball - Out of My League and Bullpen Gospels.

The main character, Lane Hamilton, was fired from his uninspiring bank job, but then quickly took on a less lucrative but much more exciting job with the Bulls.  Lane had to work long hours, but he loved his work and learned many life lessons along the way.   The book is about his work, his many adventures on the job and his relationships with co-workers.  I found myself rooting for the main characters and eager to see what would happen next.  Thus, I finished it very quickly and am waiting for a sequel.  That's the mark of a great novel. 

The book is centered around the Durham Bulls, but you don't have to be a Bulls fan or minor league fan to enjoy the book.  I would recommend it to any baseball fan and the story line is compelling enough where it could be enjoyed even my a non-baseball fan.

The Greatest Show on Dirt can be purchased in paperback and kindle formats at

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