Baseball: A Literary Anthology share button
Nicholas Dawidoff
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 6.28 (w) x 9.43 (h) x 1.59 (d)
Pages 721
Publisher Library of America
Publication Date February 2002
ISBN 9781931082099
Book ISBN 10 193108209X
About Book

Robert Frost never felt more at home in America than when watching baseball "be it in park or sand lot." Full of heroism and heartbreak, the most beloved of American sports is also the most poetic, and writers have been drawn to this sport as to no other. With Baseball: A Literary Anthology, The Library of America presents the story of the national adventure as revealed through the fascinating lens of the great American game.

Philip Roth considers the terrible thrill of the adolescent centerfielder; Richard Ford listens to minor-league baseball on the radio while driving cross-country; Amiri Baraka remembers the joy of watching the Newark Eagles play in the era before Jackie Robinson shattered the color line. Unforgettable portraits of legendary players who have become icons-Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron-are joined by glimpses of lesser-known characters such as the erudite Moe Berg, who could speak a dozen languages "but couldn't hit in any of them."

Poems in Baseball: A Literary Anthology include indispensable works whose phrases have entered the language-Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" and Franklin P. Adams's "Baseball's Sad Lexicon"-as well as more recent offerings from May Swenson, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Martin Espada. Testimonies from classic oral histories offer insights into the players who helped enshrine the sport in the American imagination. Spot reporting by Heywood Broun and Damon Runyon stands side by side with journalistic profiles that match baseball legends with some of our finest writers: John Updike on Ted Williams, Gay Talese on Joe DiMaggio, Red Smith on Lefty Grove.


From Barnes & Noble

Can we praise this anthology enough? Over the last century, baseball has evoked superb writing from many of our most gifted authors: John Updike; Don DeLillo; Bernard Malamud; Marianne Moore; Thomas Wolfe; William Carlos Williams. Library of America editor Nicholas Davidoff has tracked down the best of these, not neglecting baseball mavens such as Roger Angell, Roger Kahn, Ring Lardner, and James T. Farrell. Digging deep, he's discovered pieces we never knew about, such as Amiri Baraka's joyful reminiscences of watching the Negro Leagues' Newark Eagles and Red Smith's touching tribute to southpaw Lefty Grove.

Library Journal

Dawidoff, the author of a well-regarded biography of Moe Berg (The Catcher Was a Spy), has assembled this collection of exemplary baseball writing. While acknowledging the literature's formative years with early boosters such as Albert Spalding and other "dead ball" era writers, he concentrates on its mature period, from Ring Lardner through the two Rogers (Kahn and Angell) of the modern era, even Don Delillo and Stephen King. Dawidoff smartly doesn't rule out a great piece of baseball writing merely because it's familiar: classics like Updike's account of Ted Williams's final 1960 game, Gay Talese's Esquire profile of the unknowable Joe DiMaggio, and W.C. Heinz's salute to the recklessly brave Pistol Pete Reiser belong in any anthology worth its pitching rosin. This wonderful introduction belongs alongside past collections such as The Armchair Guide to Baseball. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

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 ofyouthful 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.