JON HART has written for the New York Times and an array of outlets that have sadly bitten the dust. He graduated first in his class from mascot school. Then again, he was the only person in his graduating class. As a U.S. Open ball boy, he was runner-up for rookie of the year. He has never been to the Olympics in any capacity, but he has done the Macarena with an Olympic gold medalist. He lives in New York City, which he hopes will not be held against him.

Man versus Ball follows Hart's adventures around the country as he undertakes new missions, often with unexpected results. He becomes a pro wrestler, learning 'fake' moves that all but land him in the hospital after a body slam went awry. He plays an entire season for a championship semipro football team, suits up as a U.S. Open ball boy for three years, and is an 'amateur caddie' for a Professional Golfers' Association tournament. After attending mascot school, he performs in a neon gorilla suit in front of several thousand fans at a minor league hockey game. He works as a vendor at several venues around the country, hawking concessions while fending off drunken fans. He even earns a bit of glory for himself, leading his roller basketball league in rebounds for two consecutive seasons. Feeling confident, he takes part in the World Cup of roller soccer, which is soccer on in-line skates. All this prepares him for his moment of truth: a race up the 1,576 stairs of the Empire State Building.

A George Plimpton-style excursion into the athletic unknown, Man versus Ball will delight and inspire readers who have secretly yearned to cross fun items off their life's to-do list.