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Bang the Drum Slowly (Second Edition) Paperback – December 1, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Unless you've got ice water in your veins, this book will touch you deeply. As you read it, ask yourself, "Would I have done the same thing?" The honest answer for most of us, unfortunately, is no.
In the era before free agency rules made millionaires out of very mediocre baseball players, even all-star left-handed pitchers had to find work in the off season. Henry Wiggin, star lefthander for what was probably the best team in baseball during the early 1950s, the New York Mammoths, was no exception. Henry took to selling life insurance and annuities to his fellow ball players and he became quite good at his sales job. One of Henry's customers was Bruce Pearson, a third-string Mammoth catcher who bought an insurance policy covering his life only to later discover that he was dying of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a disease that was incurable in the 1950s.
Bang the Drum Slowly at its base is a realistic baseball novel told in the words (and with the spelling skills) of a small town boy born during the Depression who had the physical skills to become a major league baseball pitcher. It is an honest look at what goes on off the field and in the clubhouse when athletes spend more time on the road, and with each other, than they spend with their wives and children. There are racial tensions, drinking problems, womanizing and personality clashes that have to be dealt with by management, a baseball management generally interested only in the club's bottom line.Read more ›
Harris uses a somewhat strange first person vernacular to tell the story, but after the first couple of pages it seems as if Henry Wiggin is talking directly to you over a beer or a cup of coffee, telling you about that summer of baseball and what happened to his friend, Bruce. I found the technique enormously effective. I also really enjoyed some of Wiggin's observations about life and the unanswered questions he raises about the human condition. (If we all know we're going to die, why don't we go out and live it up more?)
Harris wrote this novel back in the 1950s and it clearly demonstrates how the status of professional athletes and sports in general have changed in the last half century. As someone who has written about sports in the fifties (HOOP CRAZY: COLLEGE BASKETBALL IN THE 1950S), I found this book to be something of a historical document as well as a terrific novel. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sports fiction or anyone who liks well written novels in general.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
everybody knows everybody's dying..that's why people are as good as they arePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is consistent with the nostalgic nature of this series, however, added to this one is a plot of a dying ballplayer and the friendship between the main character and his dying... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very enjoyable read. I read the Southpaw first and glad I did. Always like to read a baseball related book or two around opening day. Funny and touching. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Hurricane Al