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Chris Ballard 

When: Wed., May 16, 7 p.m. 2012

As a longtime sports nut and professional sportswriter, Chris Ballard knows the power of a good sports story. So when he happened upon the story of the Macon Ironmen -- a scrappy high-school baseball team from a tiny town in Illinois that, despite all odds, came to be the smallest school in history to make the Illinois state final -- he knew it would make for a great Sports Illustrated piece. What he didn't know is that it would become much more than that, generating what Ballard has been told is one of the largest volumes of feedback mail in the magazine's history. As of this week, it's also a full-length book, One Shot at Forever, which the Berkeley resident will discuss at Books Inc Berkeley (1760 Fourth St.) on Wednesday, May 16. In retrospect, it makes sense: "What's so compelling about this story is that in a way it's not really about sports: It's really about growing up, about the power of a mentor," Ballard said. "Sports is a construct that gives it a narrative arc, but it's universal." 7 p.m., free. 510-525-7777 or

— Ellen Cushing


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