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Slouching Toward Fargo:: A Two-Year Saga Of Sinners And St. Paul Saints At The Bottom Of The Bush Leagues With Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie And Me Paperback – Unabridged, March 7, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038079215X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380792153
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,835,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Any baseball book beginning with a descriptive list of characters that includes a Benedictine nun, the hold-out college player of the year, a woman pitcher, a 300-pound pig, a seemingly washed-up Darryl Strawberry, a blind announcer, comedian Bill Murray, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, and the spirit of Bill Veeck--the game's greatest showman--hovering over it all as the holy ghost, is a book that swings for the fences. Slouching Toward Fargo does go deep, even off the deep end at times. The really amazing thing is that it's all true.

A resourceful veteran writer, Karlen spends the summers of 1996 and 1997 following the mismatched misfits who mold themselves into the St. Paul Saints of the unaffiliated A-level Northern League, one of the strangest clubs in one of the oddest leagues in the history of organized baseball. On one level, his chronicle is a certified hoot; the presence of team owners Murray and Mike Veeck, who inherited his father's gene for baseball theatrics, ensures that Fargo flirts with the unpredictable. But this is also a circumspect tale filled with second chances--not the least of which is Karlen's own redemption as a journalist, which resonates in counterpoint throughout. His adventure begins at a personal crisis point when he accepts an assignment from Wenner, who's had a longstanding grudge against Murray, to follow the comedian and do a hatchet-job on him for Rolling Stone. Karlen needs the check, sure, but he needs a reality check too. "It was time to put my scorecard in order," he admits; after all, this isn't his grudge. Can you hear the bass chord of conscience beginning to thrum? "As I followed the team, I would be searching for some clue to my own battered spirit." By the end of his journey, both the clues and the Saints entertainingly add up to a winning volume and a winning team. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Freelance writer Karlen tells the antic story of how, in order to get back in the good graces of his former boss, Rolling Stone founder Jan Wenner, he agreed to spend a season covering the minor league St. Paul Saints. "Wenner made it clear to my beleaguered editor what he wanted done if I wanted back into Rolling Stone after a long stint as a prodigal: Bill Murray, a co-owner of the St. Paul Saints, and Darryl Strawberry, he of the notable rap sheet, had to be carved." But though he set out with the intention to write a hatchet job, Karlen was won over by Murray (who was hiding from fame), Strawberry (who was on his way back to the majors after drug and tax problems) and the Saints. His book is about how baseball can redeem the human spirit. In fact, just about everyone associated with the teamAfrom owner Mike Veeck (son of the legendary baseball owner and showman Bill Veeck) to the author himselfAfinds redemption. Karlen documents numerous team subplots (the travails of famous has-beens and anonymous hopefuls), comes across high-profile stories (e.g., those of former pro pitcher Jack Morris and Ila Borders, the first professional female pitcher) and re-creates a host of colorful characters, some charming (minor league fans), some despicable (TV and magazine people from the big cities). Readers not acquainted with the independent leagues will appreciate the portrayal of life on baseball's back roads. Unfortunately, Karlen reveals his own redemption within the first few pages, rendering later personal epiphanies anticlimactic. Plenty of rich anecdotes shine through the moralizing, but Karlen's entertaining book would have been even better had he trusted readers to draw their own conclusions about the beauty of baseball.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Karlen writes well.
Kenneth Heard
If you followed the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League in 1996 and 1997, you probably remember that your team included several memorable characters.
G. Anderson
If you love the game of baseball, then this book is a must read.
Theo Logos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Neal Karlen was a writer for Rolling Stone, sent to St. Paul, Minnesota to "get the dirt" on Bill Murray, iconoclastic actor and part owner of the St. Paul Saints. The Saints are a minor league baseball team, part of the independent Northern League, and operated by Mike Veeck, son of the legendary Hall of Famer Bill Veeck. (Casual baseball fans will most likely recall the senior Veeck for having sent midget Eddie Gaedel up to bat as a pinch hitter. It was only one of many colorful stunts by the games' most creative promoter ever).
Karlen sticks around for a couple of years; the story for Rolling Stone never materializes, but along the way this book emerges, as much about Karlen's crisis of spirit as it is about the Saints and the zany cast of characters surrounding them. But along the way we meet many of those who have given the Saints and the Northern League their unique cachet: on the field performers like former Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry, who temporarily redeems his life and career during a two-month stay with the Saints; former pitching star Jack Morris, seeking one more taste of glory, but on his terms only; Ila Borders, the first female to play in a professional game; and Wayne "Twig" Terwillliger, player and coach for 50 seasons and quiet representative of so much that's right with the game.
There are also wonderful portraits of Sister Rosalind. the nun who offers massages at games; a blind radio announcer convinced he's on his way to the big leagues; an employee of one of the Saints' rivals who earns the title "Most Beloved Woman in the Northern League" and others who find solace, healing and a chance to keep dreaming dreams in this strange, wacky, wonderful firmamenent. I really hated to come to the end of this one. The empty feeling was almost as bad as the night the World Series ends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was tremendously fun. It's a tale of redemption and growth and second chances, which reflects the topic of the book. What stands out are the characters Karlen depicts in the book - Darryl Strawberry, coming back despite being blackballed from baseball, and proving to be a good guy. There's Jack Morris, who wanted to come back to the majors but only on his terms. There's Ila Borders, fighting to be a professional woman baseball player in a world where women are seen almost exclusively as sex objects. There's Bill Murray, the man Karlen came to St. Paul to hate but who ended up being a man he admired. Most of all the book is about author Neil Karlen, and how in the improbably story of the Saints he finds happiness again.
If this book were fiction, it would be unbelievable. As fact, it's wonderful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Totally winning, both as a portrait of a team (and town) with heart and of a freelance writer who's struggling with the angel (good, real reporting) and devil (fat Rolling Stone paycheck) on his shoulders. The angel wins, and the reader can't help but cheer. Sex, strong women, kooky characters, fiercely loyal fans, minor-league silliness, bratwurst and the honest-to-God love of baseball, which weirdly enough persists no matter how disillusioning the world gets--this book's for anyone who likes Bull Durham, scrappy writers, or independence of spirit in any form. Ignore the minor editing errors; the book's worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved the new Neal Karlen book "Slouching Toward Fargo". It captured what life is like in the unique Northern League of Baseball. I should know, I was a memeber of the 1996 St. Paul Saints - I was the infielder born without legs - Dave Stevens, and it was a dream of a lifetime to play alongside Darryl Strawberry and Jack Morris - Please read this book for an incredible unprecidented inside look at the oddball life and times of the rennegade league and why that team in St. Paul can outdraw it's ugly step sister - the Twins - just two miles away - on any given summer night
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cecilia Tan on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book has some incredibly intriguing subject matter, from the redemption of Darryl Strawberry in 1996 to a nun who gives backrubs and advice in the stands, and many other enjoyable and colorful characters besides. But the author spends so much time hand-wringing about his own angst (over whether he, as a journalist, will write a "hatchet" piece for Rolling Stone), that he rarely focuses on the actual game. Perhaps that's because he himself was so distracted by his angst that it was all he could really write about. By halfway through the book, I was wishing to hear less about Neal Karlen and more about the game itself. The scenes that take place on the field are few, despite the annoying sense that Karlen gives that a drama is being played out there... we're only seeing glimpses of it. Karlen also repeats himself often--as if he intended different chapters to stand alone as articles?--causing him to tell the same stories and trivial facts repeatedly, and yet often seemingly skip the meat of the story. His editors should have done a more careful job. It's a shame Karlen gets in the way of his own story--maybe Rolling Stone ruined him as a writer.
Nonetheless, I still recommend this book because its subjects are so unique and so worth hearing about! What a wild tale! Every baseball fan should know of some of the unique characters and history associated with the Saints.
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