A Chance to Win (Paperback)

An Ex-Con, a Little League Team, and the Quest to Redeem an American City

By Jonathan Schuppe, Jonathan Schuppe (Afterword by)

Picador USA, 9781250050090, 288pp.

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


When Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark's rough South Ward, was shot and paralyzed, he vowed to turn his life around. A former high-school pitching ace with a 93 mph fastball, Mason decided to form a Little League team to help boys avoid the street life that had claimed his youth and mobility. In A Chance to Win, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Schuppe follows Mason and his team, both on and off the field. Predictably, the players struggle--they endure poverty, unstable family lives with few positive male role models, failing schools, and dangerous neighborhoods--but through the fists and tears, lopsided losses and rare victories, this bunch of misfits becomes a team, and in doing so gives the community something to root for. Jonathan Schuppe's book is both a penetrating, true-to-life portrait of what's at stake for kids growing up poor in America's inner cities and a portrait of Newark itself, a struggling city that has recently known great hope as well as failure.

About the Author

Jonathan Schuppe is an award-winning journalist who has shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey's resignation. He won the coveted J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize for A Chance to Win. He lives with his wife and daughter in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Praise For A Chance to Win: An Ex-Con, a Little League Team, and the Quest to Redeem an American City

“An extraordinary book of the human spirit.”—Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of A Hope in the Unseen

“[A] deep excavation...told with consummate empathy.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Honest and gritty.”—The Star-Ledger (Newark)

“One of the most powerful books of narrative nonfiction I’ve read in years. [A Chance to Win] is somehow both understated and majestic.”—Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning

“A compelling book.”—The Washington Post

“Sobering yet inspiring, A Chance to Win is an extraordinary journey.”—Alex Kotlowitz

“It may be peculiar to describe a book that looks unflinchingly at urban poverty as wonderful, but in the sense that this account will open eyes and maybe a few minds, wonderful just might apply.”—Booklist (starred review)

“[A Chance to Win] reads like a mix between Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger and Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc—tough acts that Schuppe gracefully follows.”—Bookriot.com“A lively work of literary nonfiction [that] vividly illustrates the often fierce struggles of a small group of people [and] offers a larger truth about the city...Jonathan Schuppe gives dignified, poetic voice to [Newark’s] struggle.”—Inside Jersey “A compelling portrait of inner-city struggles...Schuppe’s punchy journalistic style serves the material well.”—Kirkus

A Chance to Win is a model of intimate reporting, an exemplar of lucid prose, and a demonstration of genuine courage. It will take most readers into a world that they do not know, and they will be rewarded for the venture.”—Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

A Chance to Win will take its rightful place as a classic of American urban life.”—Jonathan Alter