Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE OLD BALL GAME: Baseball in Folklore and Fiction by Tristram P. Coffin

THE OLD BALL GAME: Baseball in Folklore and Fiction

By Tristram P. Coffin

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Herder & Herder

For the fact of the matter is: in America, baseball is everywhere,"" says folklorist Coffin (Folklore in America, Indian Tales of North America, etc.), who traces the national game's influence on our language, literature, hero concepts, beliefs, and cultural mores. He shows how baseball argot permeates American English (he's still in there pitching, he couldn't get to first base with her, and so on); how exploits of baseball stars like Babe Ruth and Dizzy Dean have served as prototypes for the aspirations of the young; how the game's motifs and legends have pervaded our literature, from the pulp mags and dime novels of the last century to the serious contemporary fiction of Fitzgerald, Wolfe, Farrell, Malamud. There is also a notable chapter on Ring Lardner, whom Coffin credits with having brought a new perspective (skepticism, realism) to sports reporting. Coffin is making the point that a people identify with and are identified by their major sports, and that sport is therefore a productive area of investigation for the behavioral scientist. We agree -- and now, Professor Coffin, what about some big league social research on the new ball game, football, with its bombs, bruises, and helicopters?