An intelligently selected and diverse collection of the best baseball poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, to be published on opening day of the Major League season.
Author, prolific magazine contributor, and former college shortstop Dawidoff (The Catcher Was a Spy, 1994) assembles excellent verse and prose about baseball for this long-overdue Library of America anthology. As he notes in his introduction, baseball has historically touched everyone who grew up in the US, and many of our best authors wrote about it; our national pastime, Dawidoff argues, has become an integral part of our literary landscape and American heritage. He makes a strong case for this idea by including verse by poets from Carl Sandburg and William Carlos Williams to Robert Frost and Marianne Moore. To further demonstrate the sport’s cultural significance, Dawidoff includes prose from such preeminent novelists as Thomas Wolfe, Bernard Malamud, John Updike, and Annie Dillard. Additionally, he uncovers gems from the most unlikely sources: Stephen King produces a heartrending chronicle of his son’s little league team’s quest for the 1987 Main State Championship; Negro League legend Satchel Paige divulges his six rules for staying young. Dawidoff captures our history’s tense and ambiguous racial undercurrents in excerpts from works like Amiri Baraka’s The Autobiography of Leroi Jones. He demonstrates the enduring resonance of baseball fiction by showing that classics like Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey At the Bat” and Ring Lardner’s You Know Me Al hold their own when compared to modern baseball writing like Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Glory” and Don DeLillo’s Underworld. This collection resurrects scintillating fragments of youthful summers and ultimately convinces readers that reflecting on baseball helps us understand our complicated national identity.
Of obvious appeal to baseball fans of all ages, but also a delight for general readers—and worthy of attention from scholars serious about American history and literature.