The prolific Sheed (Baseball and Lesser Sports, 1991, and many others) on his childhood love of baseball, pitched with typical Sheedian wit and warmth. As a kid, Sheed had the baseball bug bad. This makes him no different from any American sandlot Johnny—except that Sheed was a British boy, tossed across the Atlantic at the age of nine in the initial throes of WW II. Moreover, any sports interest at all was a decided oddity in his ``egghead'' family. So when, in 1941, he discovered America's pastime, it became something of an obsession, a fetishistic frenzy of statistics and idolatries. His baseball heart grew larger as he aged: At first caught by the miserable Philadelphia Athletics, it expanded to take in the St. Louis Cardinals' Gas House Gang (Dizzy and Daffy Dean, et al.) and then the wacky, benighted Brooklyn Dodgers, rooting for which Sheed likens to taking ``the losing side in the Thirty Years War'' (a cross that Sheed carried until the ``diabolical'' Walter O'Malley heisted the Dodgers to California in 1958). Sheed enthuses about Leo Duroucher (``the name of his game was Uproar''); the ``miracle'' of Ted Williams; the fat bat of Jimmy Foxx. Quirky truths tumble out: that ``the teams that break your heart are the ones that play in funny stadiums'' (Cubs, Red Sox); that the advent of the slider was the ``Great Divide'' between the ancient and modern eras, a Rubicon that Williams and Musial crossed with ease but that ruined DiMaggio; that, truth be told, a 12-year-old understands baseball to its depths, and adult insight adds nothing to the mix. A true fan, with eyes wandering now and then to football (but ``football was work, like plowing snow; baseball was play'') and other sports, yet ever faithful to ``the perfect game, the one they play in heaven.''
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