Going To Williamsport

Books › Middle Grade



Rich Agnello

Language - English

Publication Date - Nov 01, 2021

Book Description

What would you do if you were the 12 year-old new ace pitcher of a very small town American baseball team, you and your teammates go on in one magical year to represent your roots at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and you were much too embarrassed beyond mere words to see your own mother cheer you on as you take the big stage hundreds of

miles away?

This is Sooner's situation, and his story for the ages is Going to Williamsport, as he faces a mother suffering through acute paranoid psychosis, or just simply really crazy things, in the early years of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill during the Eisenhower administration.

As the awkward moments pile up, the dirty looks and misunderstandings multiply in town, and the psychotropic drugs and Demedication sessions gather endlessly without the option to "just put her away" anymore, the only child Sooner only sees his own embarrassment and severe contempt for a Semper Fi father who will not deny his marriage vows, nor his unbelievable love for his own son.

Going to Williamsport matters more than anything to Sooner, but definitely not at the expense of seeing "her" in those stands. In his own very young words, he takes as much as he possibly can, and then makes incredibly clear in the clearest of places that he alone, with his team is going to Williamsport, and Dad isn't and certainly Mom isn't, either.

Sooner's story plays out as a kid farther away from the far western Oklahoma Panhandle than he's ever been. Sooner rather than later, his decision to be separate and apart from Mom and Dad is rewarded in surprising ways, but to everyone's surprise, Sooner understands very quickly how his family coin truly has two sides that look surprisingly alike. From an early exit at the Little League World Series, Dad, Sooner, and special friends realize that in the thankless world of serious mental illness and the family, both the sick and their caretakers need love, support, and most of all, unrelenting allies.

Sooner's experience echoes that of author Rich Agnello, who saw his own mother suffer this way for thirty-seven years, and yet through the constant presence of family and faith, saw his two sisters and him earn two graduate and three undergraduate degrees, as well as the author's fifteen years as a select youth soccer coach. 

Through endless painful and proud moments, Going to Williamsport makes incredibly clear to a third generation of deinstitutionalization that both the mentally ill and their immediate support system are both dealing with the Loneliest Illness in the World and are both deserving of our unconditional love and friendship.

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