CONFESSIONS FROM LEFT FIELD: A Baseball Pilgrimage by Raymond Mungo


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For about two years (circa 1980-82) Mungo gave full-time attention to his passion for baseball--bumming around the country from stadium to stadium, following all the California games (""I went to the fanciest Carmel parties wearing radio headphones tuned to the Giants game""), meeting a few players, fellow-fans, and old acquaintances. So this wispy little book, in 44 teensy chapters, records assorted impressions and anecdotes: a mildly engaging, occasionally self-indulgent ramble--with even less substance than Mungo's previous ventures into hang-loose memoir/journalism (Famous Long Ago, Cosmic Profit, etc.). Mungo drops in on spring training in much-loathed Phoenix (""an annual exercise in sloth for the fans and writers""). He travels to his old hometown stadium, Boston's Fenway Park, then to N.Y. for some Yankee-hating: ""a moneyed industry bloated with pride, ego, nasty innuendo, fans who have been properly called animals. . . . They don't fuck around. They play an angry, aggressive kind of ball, and I felt that I personally (all I 15 pounds of me) was the intended victim."" He revels in Giants fanhood--remembering great seasons past, driving through a rainstorm to meet Vida Blue in person. He spends some time in Seattle--listening to ""the finest play-by-play announcers in the business,"" waging a parody-campaign against Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, next drifting south to Portland (a.k.a. ""Poland. . . the true spiritual home of all the Po people you ever met""). There's an off-season sidetrip to Japan for a weird ""Chreesmasu"" Party and a scary anti-nuke demonstration. Then it's back to N.Y.--for a reunion with the new Jerry Rubin (""still fun. . . but the salon gets only one star from this reviewer""), spacey encounters with the author of The Language of Cats, and a dollop of tepid purple. (""Ah, Manhattan, you son of a bitch. I love you true with a few bucks in my pocket, some food in my stomach, some drugs clouding my mind. . . ."") Plus: passing remarks on the strike, Valenzuela, racism, cocaine, non-custodial parenthood, and the Dodgers' controversial stadium-building plan. Not for most of the Roger Angell audience, then--but a spirited series of doodles for those who share Mungo's '60s-ish mind-set as well as his baseball-mania.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1983
Publisher: Dutton