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Baseball: A Literary Anthology Hardcover – March 4, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Dawidoff, the author of a well-regarded biography of Moe Berg (The Catcher Was a Spy), has assembled this collection of exemplary baseball writing. While acknowledging the literature's formative years with early boosters such as Albert Spalding and other "dead ball" era writers, he concentrates on its mature period, from Ring Lardner through the two Rogers (Kahn and Angell) of the modern era, even Don Delillo and Stephen King. Dawidoff smartly doesn't rule out a great piece of baseball writing merely because it's familiar: classics like Updike's account of Ted Williams's final 1960 game, Gay Talese's Esquire profile of the unknowable Joe DiMaggio, and W.C. Heinz's salute to the recklessly brave Pistol Pete Reiser belong in any anthology worth its pitching rosin. This wonderful introduction belongs alongside past collections such as The Armchair Guide to Baseball.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Like an all-star team, an anthology often falls short of achieving perfection. There's nearly always that lack of cohesion, or the nagging thought that someone crucial was left off the roster. But this collection is so rich, so stuffed with old friends and newly remembered gems, so chock-full of beautiful and shapely writing. Beginning with Thayer's Casey at the Bat and ending with Buster Olney, there are more than 700 pages of prose and poetry, fiction and sportswriting, writers and players. Scanning the table of contents, it almost seems like everybody wrote about baseball: Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, James Weldon Johnson, William Carlos Williams, James Thurber. But so did Paul Gallico, Nelson Algren, Tallulah Bankhead, and Jacques Barzun. Satchel Paige's Rules for Staying Young is right there with Keith Hernandez's Pure Baseball; Roger Angell's prose and Marianne Moore's poetry gleam and glisten; Giamatti's Green Fields of the Mind, perhaps the loveliest short piece ever written on baseball, glows. The food writer Molly O'Neill writes a delicious essay about her little brother, Paul--he just retired from the Yankees--and the editor himself limns a piece in the introduction about his grandfather as perfectly as a strike-three call. Ineffable, indispensable, inimitable--just like baseball. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America
  • Hardcover: 721 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (March 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193108209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082099
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on October 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When Ted Williams died a few months ago, someone described "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," John Updike's chronicle of Williams' final game, as "the most perfect piece of sports writing ever." I looked for it in this collection, and there it was. When the baseball season ended last week (for us Mariners fans, anyway), another friend quoted Bart Giamatti's famous elegy that begins, "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart." Like they say about the spaghetti sauce, "It's in there."
More than any other sport, I think, baseball seems to inspire writing that's lyrical without being cheesy or cloying. That much is apparent in this collection, which also treats us to "Casey at the Bat" (naturally), Owen Johnston, Ring Lardner, Nelson Algren, Jimmy Breslin, Roger Angell, and much more (but, I observe without comment, no George Will). When my lovely bride gave me this collection back in June, I knew it would be a perfect companion for the season. Now I'm finding it an even better companion for the still young off-season. So as we try to figure out how many days are left until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, this great collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and prose will carry us forward, and back, to summer.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Baseball: A Literary Anthology edited by Nicholas Dawidoff and published by The Library of America offers a lively mix of stories, memoirs, poems, news reports, and insider accounts about all aspects of the great American game, from its pastoral nineteenth-century beginnings to its apotheosis as the undisputed national pastime.
Among the contributions are the works of Ring Lardner, Don DeLillo, sportswriters Damon Runyon & Red Smith, and poets William Carlos Williams & Yusef Komunyakaa. Included are essays and player profiles from John Updike, Gay Talese, Roger Angell, and David Remnick.
Baseball: A Literary Anthology is a varied and exuberant display of what baseball has meant to American writers. Among the highlights: Philip Roth considers the terrible thrill of the adolescent centerfielder; Richard Ford listens to minor league baseball on the radio while driving cross-country; Amiri Baraka remembers the joy of watching the Newark Eagles play Negro League ball; Stephen King follows his son's team on their riveting journey toward a Little League championship.
Bringing together tales of ambition and heartbreak, childlike wonder and implacable disappointment, raw strength and even rawer emotion, Baseball: A Literary Anthology tells a rich and vital story about the sport that has always been more than just a game in the hearts of Americans.
In an age where venal, shorsighted men seem bent on destroying the game, reading this book gives one perspective: Such men have always existed--and failed. This stands, then, as a book of remembrance, reflection and hope. It's just what baseball-and baseball fans-need.
This is a truly great read!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In The Business of America, John Steele Gordon explains that, "Like all great team sports, baseball arose spontaneously from the human race's collective genius for play. Its ultimate origins lie in a game called rounders, played by village boys in England since time immemorial. Variations of rounders were known in both England and America by many other names, and one called baseball is even mentioned by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, written about 1798." Dawidoff has edited a literary anthology which, in my opinion, is the best single collection of writing about baseball as has yet been published. Even for long-time, passionate fans such as I, the fact many of the authors represented are unfamiliar adds even greater value to Dawidoff's 721-page anthology. That is to say, there are adventures of discovery in this superb collection...discoveries of voices perhaps not heard before as well as discoveries of situations previously unknown to most of us.
Appropriately, the first selection is Thayer's "Casey at the Bat." I never weary of reading it or of hearing someone recite it. Corny? Of course. I hasten to add, Dawidoff also includes brilliant commentaries by those sports journalists most closely identified with baseball (e.g. Runyon, Lardner, Rice, Smith, Gallico, and Angell) as well as Satchell Paige's delightful selection, "Rules for Staying Young." As I think about this book, the word "feast" comes to mind; also the word "buffet." The authors offer a wide and deep combination of perspectives on what remains our national pastime. Although I am appalled by so much which is apparently essential to Major League Baseball today (especially greed and the inevitable victim of it, loyalty), I have not as yet lost my faith in the game's essential integrity.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TheHighlander on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Baseball, in the time frame that it happened. This book is an excellent view of events in their time. It is a compilation of articles from writers, players, comentaters and owners. Although the book sometimes seems to jump around this can be expected when you are piecing together articles by so many different people. Where else could you find articles in the same book by Satchel Paige, Stephen King and A. Bartlett Giamatti. Baseball seems timeless and this book presents that. With first hand acounts of people and events that are long gone.
Of particular interest to me was the chapter where Lawrence Ritter talks to Sam Crawford. Sam's views on life and people are engrossing, his assessement of opposing players provocative and his memories of the game eye-opening.
Overall this book should be read by any fan of baseball. It's a unique book and is full (over 700 pages) of interesting reading. The entire history of baseball is covered in this book.
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Baseball: A Literary Anthology
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