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It's a hit as play touches 'Home'

There's fantasy baseball, and then there's the baseball fantasy being replayed over and over again in the mind of Tony Tucker, for whom it is always 1955.

Tucker is one of three characters in "Home Games," the surprisingly touching play that opened Friday at Rochester Civic Theatre . "Home Games," written by Tom Ziegler and directed by Greg Miller, leads off like a frantic romantic comedy, but, in the bottom of the ninth, takes a swing at something much, much more — a meditation on family, love, hopes and dreams.

And it connects, which is more than Tony Tucker did in 1955. He never got into the lineup for his beloved Yankees that season. And at the end of the year, his life was altered dramatically by a personal tragedy.

Now, 30 years later, suffering from a brain injury, Tony relives that last fine time over and over again. He's living with his daughter, Mert, who struggles with a dead-end job and the burdens of caring for her dad. Then, out of the blue, she finds romance with Frank, a slick, suave rich kid who has some father issues of his own.

There is so much to enjoy about this show, starting with the cast. Mallory McKay is endearing as Mert, showing us the tough exterior of a woman who has been losing hope for anything other than a life of drudgery.  Angus Russell is smooth as Frank, a guy for whom family has been both a burden and an easy way out. And Mike Tri is marvelous as Tony, griping like an old ballplayer and trying to cheer up "Casey" and "Mickey" by telling them there's always next year.

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For three actors to carry the entire load of a play that stretches for over two hours is a major challenge. But McKay, Russell and Tri rarely stumble.

True, at times, they seem to search for a calm center — there is too often too much caterwauling going on — but once they find it, as in the final scene, they knock this one, if not out of the park, at least for extra bases. Everyone goes home a winner.

Everyone, that is, except the Yankees, who lost that 1955 World Series in seven games. They should have put Tony Tucker in the lineup.

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