Bull Durham meets Meatballs in this raucous yet meaningful tale of a minor-league club with major-league characters.
The book is set at Midway Stadium, home of the independent Northern League’s St. Paul Saints, an outcast team stocked with outcasts like co-owners Mike Veeck (fired from the Show when his promo turned riot), anti-Hollywood movie star Bill Murray, and Darryl Strawberry, the deadbeat dad and former cocaine abuser who was blackballed from pro ball. All these outsiders, including the author (who hates the poison-pen role he plays for Rolling Stone), are seeking redemption on the wrong side of the Twin Cities. Among the many minor characters who enliven this two-year saga are Bill Veeck (father of Mike and idol of Murray), the legendary and vilified baseball owner who hired a midget and brought in aged Minnie Minoso for comic relief; a ball boy who is a 300-pound pig; a blind announcer; a nun who massages Saints fans behind the third base line; pro ball’s best female pitcher, “Dakota Sadie,” who entertains Fargo fans at the scoreboard with a dance; a teamful of hopeful kids and disgruntled veterans; and Charysse Strawberry, the big-league wife whom all the groupies aspire to be. The team reaches success and then hits bottom, like the many engaging losers who gamble on some beer and a lover at the nearby tavern. Corporate ball be damned, says this classic in the mold of irreverent baseball books; having fun while playing the game counts more than winning. The author’s own character is overplayed—only the thorniest of the Bush Leagues can justify all those quotes from Yeats, Joan Didion, and Murray’s movies—but at least this assignment to the boonies saves his soul just as the Saints successfully launch the Straw to pinstripes.
An anti-establishment book that captures the essence of America’s true pastime.