Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Summer Reading List of Baseball Fiction

Summer brings to mind the College World Series in Omaha, major and minor league baseball in parks big or small, and the annual All-Star Game, which really does matter. Opening day of MLB in April signals the start of our summer pursuit of the pennant in October. The game of baseball is filled with intrigue and scandal, heroes and heels. Summer also presents opportunities to catch up on baseball in other formats on those days when the home team is blacked out or rained out.
Blockade Billy, by Stephen King, is a departure from King’s usual tales of horror. George Grantham tells the story of bringing up young William Blakely from the minors to play for the Titans. But the novella offers its own uniquely chilling twist.
Double Play, by Robert B. Parker, imagines life in baseball after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. The story goes beyond this historic event, intertwining baseball with the criminal underworld. The novel focuses on the character of Joseph Burke in the role of Robinson’s bodyguard.
Once upon a Fastball, by Robert L. Mitchell, follows Seth Stein as he searches for his missing grandfather. Unlike the usual search for a missing person, Stein travels through time attending historic baseball games, catching glimpses of his Papa Sol.
Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, fulfills the ultimate baseball fantasy in all of us – watching the famous and infamous play on the fields of our dreams. Kinsella explores myth, fantasy, and tests the limits of our willingness to believe. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy follows in the same tradition of fantasy and faith, with a little mystery.

Other Baseball Books to Consider
The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn
Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, by Eliot Asinof
The End of Baseball, by Peter Schilling
If I Never Get Back, by Darryl Brock
My Father’s Game: Life, Death, Baseball, by Rick Wilber
The Natural, by Bernard Malamud
     posted by Stephanie Maatta Smith