**Named one of the three best books by a local author in the last 12 months in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2021.**
"Baseball and the blues, two American originals, come together in this striking -- no pun intended -- tale of faith and perseverance. Like baseball and the blues, CURVEBALL AT THE CROSSROADS is enticing and seductive, a story that will stay with you long after the last pitch."
Jay Busbee, author, "Earnhardt Nation"; writer, Yahoo! Sports
“There are few writers who can make baseball as compelling as Michael Lortz, and this book is a swing for the fences.”
Ben Montgomery, author, "A Shot in The Moonlight", "Grandma Gatewood's Walk"; writer, Axios Tampa Bay
"Michael Lortz combines a touch of “The Natural” with a little “Damn Yankees” in “Curveball at the Crossroads”, a fun read for any true baseball fan."
Bill Chastain, sportswriter and author
"The deal-with-the-devil is a favorite story motif. This book puts it in a baseball context. This is a fun read with vivid scenarios which could easily be adapted to video. Loved it."
Patro Mabili, radio host, WMNF 88.5 FM (Tampa, FL):
""Curveball at the Crossroads" appears to be a baseball book, but is a lot more with a character driven story, set against the backdrop of a good and evil universe. JaMark Reliford is on his way to a possible career in the major leagues until an earth-shattering injury topples all of his plans. A while later he is offered by a man wearing black pants, shirt and top hat at a fork in the road, a way in to the game. The agreement has terms to be met or there will be consequences. For a while JaMark is on top of the world but something changes and the bargain takes a new turn. "Curveball at the Crossroads" is a wonderful first novel that is a multi-layered story that moves along at a brisk pace to its final pages with writing and a story that is guaranteed to please."
Gary Roen, senior book reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"Baseball and the Blues. Are there any greater American creations? Nay, I say, and first-time author Michael Lortz has merged these two cultural pillars with his excellent new novel, “Curveball at the Crossroads.”
"People who know me know I love the Blues — it’s my favorite musical genre, especially Delta Blues — making Michael’s book a must-read for me and anyone else whose passions include the Blues and baseball."
Ryan Whirty, writer/historian at The Negro Leagues Up Close; Society of American Baseball Research
"Mr. Lortz has released his first novel, with hopefully many more to come, and it is already finding A+ reviews… for good reason."
"Lortz brings his key characters to life, the humble, conflicted Reliford, the conniving and crafty devil and a slew of others that provide meaning and substance. His chapters are short (66 of them), which works perfectly for those of us with ADHD. They end vividly in well-crafted cliffhangers that make Crossroads difficult to put down because you want to see what happens next, which should be the point of any well-written book."
Chris Humphreys, SportsChump.net
"Such a great story! I love the concept, the characters feel very real and relatable, and the classic "Make a deal with the devil" storyline is given a fresh, intriguing spin in this baseball-centric tale of a young, super promising talent who loses it all in one unfortunate injury, but gets the opportunity to become the biggest thing in baseball from the Devil at the Crossroads. Every deal, however, has a price. I was fully invested in the main character's journey since page 1."
Vale Anoa'i, artist, author, "Growing Up Wrestling", "The View From The Third Eye", and "My Awakening"
"This book was awesome. I enjoyed the way the author wove history, culture, and more into the story line. I found myself hooked and was not able to put the book down. Hoping there's a sequel because I fell in love with the main character's journey! Definitely recommend to anyone who is a sports lover!"
TJ Pittinger, manager: Big3Rollup podcast, host: Peek2Pitt podcast, Double Fries No Slaw podcast, and Bourbon on a Budget podcast
"Enjoyable book about a young baseball pitcher who makes a Faustian deal with the devil. Author Lortz does a good job creating several memorable side characters and shows promise for future work."
John Porter, co-host, Time for the Blues radio show, 89.1 WCVN, 90.1 WMVE, 93.1 and 107.3 VPM-Music (Richmond, VA):
"I am normally not a big fiction guy, but I really did enjoy reading your story. It took a surprising turn late I was not expecting!"
Jason Collette, columnist for Rotowire, podcaster at Fangraphs.com
"A fun and entertaining blend of baseball and fiction. It is a quick and engrossing read that blends sports and fable to create a unique take on making a deal with the Devil. It is very relatable if you're familiar with flash-in-the-pan sports stars who disappear almost as quickly as the burst onto the scene. Except this tale includes a supernatural twist that may make you wonder why those real life stars vanished."
Steven P. Ericson, PhD, Geographer of beer, culture, sports, and urban environments
"Curveball at the Crossroads was a great piece of fiction that is being played through America's past time. The story moves at a decent pace and definitely becomes an instant page-turner for the reader to move throughout the story. Reading about JaMark Reliford make a comeback story from "rock bottom" all the way from his journey through the minor-league system and eventually making it to The Show is something that definitely educates the reader to understand how baseball is endured for every player. The influence of literary devices used to make this a cherished favorite for baseball fans everywhere to pass down to generations in order to preserve, "America's past time." Other elements of the story give homage to blues music and the influence of Doctor Faustus in another form of an American tale. Writer Michael Lortz captures all of those elements and lets the reader's imagination run wild in a baseball adventure that is sure not to be missed."
Matt Estopare, host The EstoBro TV Podcast
"This is a great read. A fun, quick read.... Michael Lortz is a tremendous talent. He is an uncut gem ... a gem in the rough."
"Fun read. The story is led by 2 great characters that keep you moving all the way to the end. Love the baseball in the story."
Eric Prae, co-owner, HP Training Center (Tampa, FL). Volleyball coach. Former stand-up comic.
"Very good book overall. Parts of the book made me think of Tony Saunders, Robert Johnson, Field of Dreams, and even the legend of Toe Nash. For me the book kinda bogged down in the middle but the last 60 pages flew by as loose ends were tied up. Highly recommended for readers of baseball fiction and Tampa Bay fans!"
"Really enjoyed the humor and details woven throughout. The author’s deep love of the sport and homage to Delta legends is clear. There’s some great world building through some of the locations and minor characters (would love to read a companion novella about Uncle Rufus!)"
"What a great story line, and interesting characters, Kept me turning pages to find out what next? Great baseball references and music too! Reminded me of some of Stephen Kings writings but without the gore, just with the unknown and characters! Looking forward to another read..."
"A very enjoyable read, even for this non-baseball enthusiast. I enjoyed the character development of JaMark and of Inga, specifically. It’s a fun read about a dream dissolved, a choice made in desperation and all its repercussions."
"This book kept my attention throughout ... I will admit that I actually had to look up some of the sports 'jargon' so I could fully understand some areas, as I am not versed in all aspect of baseball aside from `Safe, Homerun, and SWING BATTER'. Overall great read, I truly appreciated the spin on the devil, where he could be viewed as either an evil or just mischievous entity. Top marks, look forward to another Lortz book!!"
"I liked it. It was good."
The Author's Dad