If I Never Get Back: A Novel

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If I Never Get Back is the 1990 debut novel of American writer Darryl Brock.

In the novel, a modern-day San Francisco journalist named Sam Fowler steps off an Amtrak train and finds himself in 1869. He joins the Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team, meets Mark Twain, and falls in love with a woman of the times.

The New York Times said the book "takes the reader out to the old ball game with great charm",[1] while the Los Angeles Times called it "the wildest and most satisfying yarn since W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe".[2] Because of its detailed description of nineteenth century baseball rules, the book is said to have inspired many Vintage Base Ball clubs to form throughout the United States. Brock said of these clubs, "They invite me to their conventions because my character does what they all want to do: They want to go back in time."[3]

Brock wrote a sequel in 2002 called Two in the Field.


  1. ^ "Mitgang, Herbert. "Books of The Times; When Baseball Was Young and Play Was Rough". New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Mar 28, 1990. pg. C.19
  2. ^ Tuber, Keith. "Past and Future Meld in a Tale of 1869 Ballists: If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 15, 1990. pg. 13
  3. ^ "My, what changes baseball has seen with time's passing". The San Diego Union-Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: May 13, 2001. pg. C.2